The NSW Parliament has passed a Bill to amend the Public Health Act to strengthen vaccination enrolment requirements in child care.
From 1 January 2018:
- children who are unvaccinated due to their parent’s conscientious objection will no longer be able to be enrolled in child care
- The new requirements do not change other existing provisions. A register of the age appropriate vaccination documentation still needs to be maintained for each child and in the event of specified vaccine preventable disease outbreak in a child care centre the public health officer can exclude children who are not vaccinated for that disease to protect them from infection and prevent them from passing diseases to others
What if a child is enrolled before 1 January 2018?
Children who are enrolled prior to 1 January 2018 will not be affected by the changed requirements, that is, if enrolling a child in 2017 to commence child care in 2018 parents may continue to submit any one of the four existing forms (see Forms here).
What if a parent fails to provide the required documents from January 2018?
Child care centres cannot enrol children if the required documents are not provided.
Are unimmunised children able to enrol in child care after 1 January 2018?
The only unimmunised children who can be enrolled in child care after 1 January 2018 are those who are on a recognised catch-up schedule (provided that the appropriate documentation has been provided), or those who are unimmunised due to medical reasons as described at section 2.1.4 of the Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th ed) (provided that the appropriate documentation has been provided), or children who are too young to be immunised (under 2 months of age).
Children who are unimmunised for a disease may be asked to stay at home if there is an outbreak of that vaccine preventable disease in a child care centre.
Why have these changes been made?
These changes have been made to strengthen vaccination enrolment requirements in child care.
In particular, they will:
- send a strong public health message about the importance of vaccination
- reinforce for the broader community the overwhelming scientific evidence that vaccination is safe and highly effective in preventing disease
- help reduce the transmission of disease in certain geographical areas
The changes will also align with national changes under the Australian Government’s No Jab No Pay initiative that removed the conscientious objection exemption in determining eligibility for child care and family assistance payments.
Do parents still have a choice to vaccinate their children?
Yes. Vaccination is not compulsory and parents will continue to have the choice whether or not to vaccinate their child. However, conscientious objectors will no longer be able to enrol their children in child care and will need to make alternative arrangements.