By Marianne Betts
THE Federal Government will withhold more than $2100 in tax benefits for families who refuse to vaccinate their children.
The move is a drive by the Gillard Government to boost vaccination rates, with one in 10 Australian children not immunised.
It comes as part of a major shake-up of the national immunisation program which includes the introduction of more vaccines.
Children will have to be vaccinated against chicken pox, meningococcal C and pneumococcal from July 1, 2013.
A new combination vaccine will also be added to the program in 2013 to protect children against four different diseases – measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox.
This vaccine will be given to children at 18 months, instead of the age of four when they had their MMR jab to protect against measles, mumps and rubella.
The Government will announce today that from July 1 families will need to have their children fully immunised to receive the family tax benefit part A end-of-year supplement.
The supplement, worth $726 per child each year, will now only be paid once a child is fully immunised at one, two and five years of age, meaning more than $2100 could be withheld.
A new immunisation check will be introduced for one year olds to supplement the existing checks at two and five years of age.
Families are already required to have their child fully vaccinated to receive the childcare rebate and childcare benefit.
The new arrangements will replace the maternity immunisation allowance which provides $129 for families who meet immunisation requirements when their child is two and five.
The Government will also announce a new campaign to advise parents and healthcare providers on what they can do to protect their babies from whooping cough.
New parents will receive letters providing information on immunising against whooping cough, and how to identify the disease and prevent it spreading.