The MMR vaccine is back in the news. Australian parents will lose their welfare benefits if they don't vaccinate their children, while up to 86 per cent of children who caught measles during the 'Disneyland outbreak' in California last December were vaccinated, a new study has revealed.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced that parents who refuse to vaccinate their children will lose up to $11,000 of welfare benefits. Parents can opt out of vaccinations on medical or religious grounds, or because they are "conscientious objectors".
But, from January next year, the conscientious objection opt-out will be removed in Abbott's new "no jab, no pay" policy. Religious exemptions will also be tightened, and will apply only to religious bodies "approved by the government".
The Australian government reckons that 39,000 families could lose their rights to welfare benefits.
US health authorities are also looking to tighten up on exemptions after the measles outbreak last December, in which around 140 children were infected. It is thought to have started at Disneyland in California.
But a new study reckons that up to 86 per cent of the infected children had received all their MMR jabs. "Given the highly contagious nature of measles, vaccination rates of 96 per cent to 99 per cent are necessary to preserve herd immunity and prevent future outbreaks," say the researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
(Sources: CCN, April 13, 2015; JAMA Pediatrics, published online, March 16, 2015)