Last updated August 2, 2019 at 3:41 pm
‘No Jab, No Pay’ is widely supported by parents, but it may be influencing low-income families more than the wealthy.
However, it may also be influencing low-income families more than the wealthy.
The ‘No Jab, No Pay’ legislation, introduced in 2016, removed the option of non-medical exemptions from the vaccination requirements to receive certain family and childcare tax benefits, with the intention of boosting coverage.
Wealthy families can afford to not vaccinate
Kirby Institute researchers conducted an online survey of 400 parents with children under five to understand knowledge, attitudes and opinions in relation to the ‘No Jab, No Pay’ policy.
“82% of parents in our survey supported the policy,” says lead author Mallory Trent. “This mirrors attitudes to vaccination across the country, as the significant majority of Australians support vaccination.”
The survey also found that 40% of parents rely on the financial incentives associated with ‘No Jab, No Pay’ in order to make ends meet.
Participants were asked if they would change their view on vaccinating their children as a result of the policy and the survey found that the parents who were more reliant on the payments, were also more than twice as likely to change their view and support vaccination.
“While it’s possible to view these results as evidence of the policy’s success in changing attitudes, the reality is that the policy has more influence on low income families. Wealthy families who do not wish to vaccinate their children can afford to opt out, while low income families cannot,” says Trent.
“More research is needed to understand whether the increased willingness to vaccinate is due to an actual change in parents’ opinion about vaccination, or whether parents are feeling pressured to vaccinate because of the threat of losing the payments.”
Policy has slightly increased vaccination rates
There has been a slight increase in childhood vaccination since the policy was introduced (currently almost 95% of five-year old children are fully vaccinated), but the researchers caution that punitive measures to improve childhood vaccination also have the potential to erode public trust in vaccination programs.
“Widespread support of ‘No Jab, No Pay’ reflects a healthy relationship between Australian public opinion and vaccines. However, the disproportionate impact of the policy on low-income families suggested by this research should prompt us to consider other options to improve vaccination; such as increasing access to services and education,” says Raina MacIntyre, from the Kirby Institute’s Biosecurity Program.
“We found that most parents whose kids were not fully vaccinated were not anti-vaccination; rather, they had not yet gotten around to vaccinating. Making vaccination easier is more likely to motivate this group.”