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No Jab, No Pay — no planning for migrant children

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Migration should be considered by immunisation policy

The Social Services Legislation Amendment (No Jab, No Pay) Act 2015 (Cwlth) was passed in November 2015, closing the conscientious objection exemption to immunisation requirements for family assistance payments. The intention was to reinforce the importance of immunisation and protect public health, especially for children.1,2 While these aims are sound, there are far-reaching, presumably unintended, consequences for migrant and refugee children.

The legislative changes (which took effect in January 2016) require children and young people under 20 years of age to be up to date for their early childhood immunisations in order to qualify for the Child Care Benefit, Child Care Rebate and Family Tax Benefit Part A supplement (Box).3 These Centrelink payments are available for Australian citizens and people holding a permanent visa (including offshore humanitarian entrants), special category visa or certain temporary visas (including temporary protection visas). Immunisation status is assessed through the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR), which is linked to Medicare.

Medical contraindications (including immunosuppression and anaphylaxis) and natural immunity are still grounds for vaccination…