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Little warm on ban on unvaccinated kids

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/03/2017

Australia's move to ban unvaccinated children from childcare centres and pre-schools is worth considering in New Zealand, Labour leader Andrew Little says.

Mr Little says he wants to make sure childrens' health is not being compromised by large numbers of unvaccinated children and the Australian policy is "well worth looking at".

The issue was raised with him on Tuesday after Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull asked his country's state and territory leaders to back a nationwide policy and more consistent laws on vaccinations.

The opposition Labor Party backs the move.

"I think we have to make sure that our vaccination programmes are working and aren't being compromised by large numbers of children who are not being vaccinated," Mr Little said.

"I think it's well worth looking at what we're achieving her and whether the same conditions that obviously exist in Australia apply here."

But the government is opposed to something that might penalise children who have no choice in whether or not they're vaccinated.

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett says while she is personally pro-vaccination there are two groups of people who are not.

"Some are conscientious objectors to it and just fundamentally do not agree with immunising, and then there are some that perhaps don't see or understand the importance of it," she said.

"Banning the second group from access to public education for their young ones seems not something that we would do in New Zealand."

Heath Minister Jonathan Coleman said such a policy would be detrimental to long term outcomes for kids.

"Certainly vaccination is in the child's best interest but in those small proportion of cases where the kids are never going to get vaccinated because the parents are not going to take them to get vaccinated it's still important that those kids tog access to early childhood education," he said.

Australia has already introduced a "no jab, no pay" policy withholding family welfare payments to parents of unvaccinated children.

The new "no jab, no play" plan would supplement that policy.

About 93 per cent of Australian children are said to be vaccinated, but Mr Turnbull wants to take that rate above 95 per cent.

In New Zealand, 87 per cent of all children aged five, and 92.8 per cent of two-year-olds were fully immunised last year, according to the Ministry of Health.

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