SOUTH Australia is risking the health of children by allowing unvaccinated kids to attend childcare.
Labor’s child development spokeswoman, Kate Ellis, has spoken out saying it must “urgently strengthen’’ its laws reports the Advertiser.
In a strongly worded letter to her state Labor colleague Susan Close she said the current South Australian laws left parents “flying blind’’ when trying to ensure their children were protected from preventable diseases such as measles.
Unlike other states, SA childcare centres cannot refuse to enrol children who are not vaccinated and do not have to inform parents of the number of unvaccinated children at their centre.
Ms Ellis said other states had recently introduced new laws and she was “concerned that South Australia is at risk of falling behind” places such as Victoria and Queensland.
She urged the State Government to “urgently strengthen” the law to “increase vaccination rates and give parents the information they need to keep their children safe”.
“Options to achieve this could include allowing early childhood services to insist on vaccination before enrolment and requiring all centres to inform parents if unvaccinated children are present,” she says.
“South Australian parents would be deeply concerned to learn that their child may be spending all day alongside a number of unvaccinated children without them even knowing it.”
Ms Ellis added: “At minimum, I would think parents should know the vaccination rates of their local centre.”
Ms Ellis said that while most SA children were vaccinated, in some areas “almost one in five’’ were not.
She said parents “certainly don’t want their own children exposed to such risk through no fault of their own’’.
“I believe that all parents have a right to make a choice about exposing their children to additional risk.’’
In SA, 92.41 per cent of 141,228 children aged 12-15 months were immunised at the end of last year. The number who weren’t vaccinated because of conscientious objection by their parents was 2237.
Federal Social Services Minister Christian Porter has said immunisation rates must be about 95 per cent to prevent the spread of diseases like measles.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners chairman, Dr Daniel Byrne, told 891 ABC Adelaide the immunisation rate had to be extremely high to protect the community.
“If you get (a rate) up to 95 per cent or more, you protect the unimmunised, but you’re also protecting the immunised,” Dr Byrne said.
“If the vaccination rates are lower the immunised kids can still get disease because immunisation is not 100 per cent effective.”
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