Why No Jab, No Pay policy is failing on the Northern Rivers
THE No Jab No Pay Policy was failing in the Byron Shire by reinforcing parents' decision to refuse vaccinating children, a study has found.
In the study "It just forces hardship": impacts of government financial penalties on non-vaccinating parents" 31 parents from the Byron Shire community were interviewed between October 2015 and October 2016 on the impacts of the No Jab No Pay legislation.
The Byron Shire was selected for research due to its recorded low rates of vaccination uptake for more than 20 years, with the study stating Mullumbimby had rates of 57 per cent fully vaccinated one-year-old children in 2014-2015.
The study stated the following:
- Parents reported a greater commitment to their decision not to vaccinate and an increased desire to maintain control over health choices for their children including an unprecedented willingness to become involved in protest action.
- Twenty-six participants stated the legislation had minimal financial impact on their families due to their ineligibility based on income, an active choice not to receive government payments for which they were eligible and/or low utilisation of child care services.
- All parents interviewed stated that no government measure would change their minds about vaccinating their children.
- Affected parents offset reduced income by removing children from early childhood, learning, reducing work commitments, moving residence to reduce living costs and accessing informal childcare arrangements.
- Seven parents mentioned the emergence of unregistered childcare providers who they said would accept unvaccinated children.
- Several parents indicated that they would consider moving overseas if necessary to uphold their choice not to vaccinate.
- The most extreme ideas demonstrating parents' commitment to this decision included looking for a health provider who would document a vaccine as given and squirt it down the sink and finding a way to modify a child's record in the government database.
The study was written by University of Sydney academics' Associate Professor Julie Leask and PhD candidate and Byron Shire resident Catherine Helps, and Professor and Director of the Centre for Rural Health in Lismore for Sydney University Lesley Barclay.
The study was recently published in the current issue of The Journal of Public Health Policy.
Interviewees held shared as well as differing reasons for refusing vaccinations, with some recounting stories of unfortunate events following an immunisation, and others telling of "a 'gut' or intuitive sense that it was not the right choice for their child."
Others discussed the pros and cons with health professionals and other parents and read widely to reach their conclusion.
Most participants chose to stay private about their decision while others were outspoken, and some parents made the decision easily and quickly, while others struggled.
The participants of the study consisted of twenty-two mothers and eight fathers with at least one child under 11-years-old and one pregnant woman. Two participants were not in paid employment and one was a full-time student. Some participants were selected some were self-nominated.