Government closing religion loophole for vaccinations

THE Federal Government has moved to close a loophole which currently allows parents to claim a religious exemption in a bid to avoid vaccinating their children.

The move comes as the government unveiled a $26 million package at the weekend aimed at boosting vaccination rates among Australian children.

The money, which will be made available in next month's budget, will be spent on incentive payments for doctors who vaccinate overdue children, a national vaccination register and a communication campaign.

Under the plan doctors will receive a $6 incentive for prompting parents to catch up on children's immunisations which will be paid on top of the $6 they already receive for delivering the vaccination.

Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley said on Sunday the campaign would focus on increasing awareness but also addressing parents' concerns.

She said at least 166,000 children were recorded as being more than two months overdue for their vaccinations last year with this figure in addition to the 39,000 conscientious objectors.

"I believe most parents have genuine concerns about those who deliberately choose not to vaccinate their children and put the wider community at risk," she said.

"However, it is important parents also understand complacency presents as a much of a threat to immunisation rates and the safety of our children as conscientious objections do.

"Immunisations do not just protect your child, but others as well."

The Federal Government announced its controversial 'No jab, No play, No pay' policy last week which will see parents who do not get their children immunised stripped of their taxpayer-funded family benefit payments.