In 2015, Australia implemented a controversial policy that required parents to vaccinate their children in order to receive a childcare stipend. And it seems to be working: Since then, the Courier-Mail reports, 200,000 children who were not previously vaccinated became immunized in 2016.
As The Washington Post reports, panic in the country over possible side effects of vaccinations began in 1994, when a group called the Australian Vaccination Network praised a paper that linked the MMR vaccine to autism. Since then, the paper has been widely discredited, and the group was forced to change its name to the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network.
Still, its rhetoric stuck around despite the fact that the paper's claims were discredited. Over the years, the rate of children being immunized dropped as low as 73.6% in 1999, and the government subsequently launched a campaign that saw vaccination rates rise to 92.2%. And in 2015, the country launched the "No Jab, No Pay" initiative, which stated that parents who didn't vaccinate their children were not eligible for the customary $11,500 child-care welfare credit.
Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt told the Courier-Mail that the policy was put in place to prevent infants from disease, and that it safeguarded the community's health standards while still allowing parents the option to choose not to vaccinate their children.
"I am delighted to see an increase in parents who are having their children immunised," he told Courier-Mail. "We are doing all that we can to encourage parents to immunise their children. This data shows the policy is working."
The policy took effect on January 1, 2016, and requires children under 20 to get all vaccinations deemed relevant by the country's National Immunization Program in order for parents to receive benefits. Parents are also required to report their children's immunizations to the Australian Childhood Immunization Register.