Children not fully immunised may be excluded from childcare centres in Queensland

Children whose vaccinations are not up-to-date could be denied access to Queensland childcare centres under new laws passed in State Parliament.

From next year, child care and out-of-school services will be given the power to refuse entry to unvaccinated children.

It will be up to the centres to decide if they want to exclude children or not.

The laws passed Parliament on Thursday night with bipartisan support.

Currently 91 per cent of under five-year-olds in Queensland are fully immunised.

But Queensland Health Minister Cameron Dick said that needed to go up to 95 per cent to achieve so-called “herd immunity”.

“Herd immunity will protect the most vulnerable in our community – that is young children who are not fully immunised and those who cannot be vaccinated,” he said.

“It’s essential that the 95 per cent target that we’re reaching for is met, if we are to prevent the transmission of highly contagious diseases such as measles.

“Queensland’s rates of immunisation are high, but could be higher, and I think we can do more.”

Opposition health spokesperson Mark McArdle said he hoped the laws would boost vaccination rates in his Sunshine Coast electorate, which were “well below” average.

“In the age of the internet, misleading and deceptive information about the benefits and risks of vaccination is easily disseminated and can be difficult to correct,” he said.

“However the truth is that vaccinations save lives and is essential for public health.

“Those who choose not to vaccinate their children are placing them at risk of illness and perhaps even death.”

The Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) said it had not expected much change “on the ground” now that centres could refuse entry to unvaccinated children.

ACA chief executive officer Gwynn Bridge said some centres have had that policy for years.

“Most will probably just continue on as they are, but it is comforting I suppose for them now to know that there is no discrimination if they do refuse to take children who aren’t immunised,” he said.

Ms Bridge said she was more interested in the federal implications and whether children would be disadvantaged by their parents’ decision not to vaccinate them.

Back in April, then-prime minister Tony Abbott announced parents who refused to vaccinate their children would miss out on government benefits of up to $15,000 per child.

“The federal [legislation], which hasn’t gone through the Senate yet, is going to override all others in the fact that if people don’t immunise their children, they won’t be able to access any childcare subsidy,” she said.

“So whether the states say ‘you can’t come’ or ‘it’s up to the services’, we’re thinking parents just won’t be able to afford to come if they don’t have their children immunised.”

Source: ABC News