Loophole closed: Unvaccinated children to be banned from childcare across NSW

Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children will no longer be able to enrol children to childcare, with the state government closing the "conscientious objector" loophole in NSW's 'no jab no play' rules.

On Wednesday night the NSW parliament passed a Bill to amend the Public Health Act to introduce stronger requirements for families enrolling children into early childhood education and care centres.

From January 2018 children who are not fully immunised to their parents' conscientious objection to vaccines will no longer be able to be enrolled in child care.

Under the previous legislation, registering as a conscientious objector was a valid exemption.

Directors of childcare centres who fail to comply and those who forge or falsify vaccinations certificates will be committing an offence under the amended law and face fines of up to $5500.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the new rules will help cut the risk of children contracting potentially deadly diseases such as whooping cough and meningococcal.

"The NSW government and the majority of the NSW community have achieved outstanding vaccination rates but there's no room for complacency," Mr Hazzard said.

"We have spent more than any other state government to protect our community through vaccination because the overwhelming scientific evidence is that vaccination is safe and highly effective in preventing disease.

"However, all it takes is one unvaccinated child and dozens of others could be put at risk of serious illness, so we are being very clear that choices of conscientious objectors, which are not evidence based, will no longer be allowed to impact other families."

The new rules will only apply to newly enrolled children from January 1.

Children on an approved catch-up vaccination schedule or children who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons will still be able to be enrolled.

The changes also give health officers the power to exclude unvaccinated children from high schools - in addition to primary and childcare centres - when there is a disease outbreak.

Over 93 per cent of children in NSW are fully vaccinated at one and five years of age, NSW Health data shows. Only 1.15 per cent of children between zero and seven years old had parents who registered as conscientious objectors.

The move puts NSW in step with Victoria and Queensland's 'No Jab No Play' rules and coincides with the federal government's 'No Jab, No Pay' policy, which strips families of certain childcare and family tax benefits if a child is unvaccinated.

On Thursday Turnbull government introduced new legisltation that would dock

The story Loophole closed: Unvaccinated children to be banned from childcare across NSW first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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