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Physicians call for moratorium on WA No Jab No Play pending independent review

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As many of you would already know, the Western Australia Department of Health is currently conducting a public consultation regarding the government’s proposed No Jab No Play law.

We were pleasantly surprised to see that two options are under consideration.

  • Option A – Fully implement recently introduced regulations requiring the collection and reporting of immunisation information by child care services, community kindergartens and schools at the time of enrolment, and monitor any impact before changing the status quo.
  • Option B – Amend the Public Health Act 2016 (WA) (‘the Act’) to require, with rare exception, children in WA to be fully vaccinated for age as a condition of enrolment into child care services, community kindergartens and schools, before the compulsory education period.

It goes without saying that the AVN will be supporting Option A, because Option B is entirely unnecessary and will harm families and children.

Call for a moratorium and independent review

It was reported in the West Australian today that the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) has called for an independent review into No Jab No Play laws currently operating in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, with respect to equity of access to early childhood education, and urged Western Australia to refrain from implementing a similar law until such a review was conducted.

The RACP is a professional medical college of over 17,000 physicians and 8,000 trainee physicians, which includes specialist paediatricians, from Australia and New Zealand.  In their submission to the 2016 statutory review of the New South Wales Public Health Act 2010, they opposed abolishing conscientious objection. (page 7)

In a letter to the South Australian Communicable Disease Control Branch of the Department of Health, the RACP (2017) expressed concern about children being denied the benefits of early childhood education and that the risks posed by incompletely vaccinated children are often exaggerated.

As paediatricians who advocate for the welfare of children, we are bound to draw attention to the enormous body of research demonstrating the benefits of childhood education before school commencement, especially in disadvantaged households. Denial of this access is a serious matter, with likely long-term adverse consequences for the healthy development of the children involved. In this context, the risk of VPDs to fully vaccinated children from children who are under-vaccinated is often exaggerated. (page 1)

Further, they suggested a ‘No Documentation No Play’ type of law, which Western Australia has recently implemented, as an alternative to a blanket ban on the enrolment of incompletely vaccinated children.

The RACP believes compulsory documentation of immunisation status and allowing prompt exclusion of under-immunised children should a case or outbreak of vaccine-preventable disease occur, provides sufficient protection to all children attending an early child care or early childhood education service.  As explained above, universal exclusion of under-vaccinated children adds little or no further protection. (page 2)

Pushback from the AMA

The Western Australian branch of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), which supports the exclusion of children from childcare and early childhood education, described Option A as “very weak”.

Dr Omar Khorshid, president of the Australian Medical Association WA which supports no-jab no-play, said he was surprised by the report’s status quo option despite it being “very weak”.

Why is the AMA the go-to body for early childhood care and education policy anyway?   Why are early childhood experts being sidelined?  The AMA is effectively a doctor’s union/lobby group, so represents the interests of doctors, not the public interest.  In any case, Medical Republic has reported that in 2016, the AMA represented just 27 percent of Australian doctors, so arguably, is becoming increasingly irrelevant to doctors themselves.

In 2017, Dr Khorshid made a blooper to end all bloopers.  He told Nine News Perth that Whooping Cough (Pertussis) is now rare in our community due to high levels of vaccination.  He is obviously unaware that Whooping Cough is endemic in Australia and that there are significant problems with the effectiveness of the vaccine.

You can view this AMA classic in the video below.

Citizens 4 Health Awareness is hosting an information session about the proposed law and public consultation this coming Tuesday 12 March 2019, commencing at 7.00 pm.  You can book tickets here.

Also see: Lobbying for vaccination exemptions in Western Australia for information to assist you in making a submission to the public consultation as well as lobbying your representatives in Parliament.  We will publish some specific guidance about making a submission to the public consultation early next week.

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