The Queensland Government has passed “no jab no play” laws that give approved early childhood education and care (ECEC) services the power to exercise discretion regarding enrolment and attendance of children who are not up to date with their immunisations.
Changes to the Public Health Act 2005 legislation will take effect from 1 January 2016, applying to regulated services in long day care, kindergarten, family day care, outside school hours care/vacation care, and limited hours care or occasional care. Unregulated services are not covered by the proposed law. These include nannies, babysitters or playgroups.
This move follows similar legislation in New South Wales and Victoria, and proposed Federal legislation to withdraw some family payments to parents of unvaccinated children.
While the proposed changes will not make immunisation mandatory, Queensland Health says that the changes will “better protect young and vulnerable Queenslanders from vaccine-preventable disease”.
ECEC services can ask parents to provide an immunisation history statement when enrolling their child and/or an updated statement when their child passes the 2, 4, 6, 12, 18 months and 4 years vaccination milestones.
If the child is not up to date, services can choose to refuse enrolment, conditionally accept enrolment and/or attendance, or cancel enrolment or attendance of children currently-attending the facility.
Children who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons (eg medical contraindication) or who are on a recognised vaccination catch-up schedule are considered up to date and cannot be refused enrolment based on their immunisation status.
Children from families who conscientiously object to immunisation will have the immunisation status of “not up to date”, so enrolment or attendance of these children will be at the discretion of each ECEC service.