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J Public Health Policy. 2018 May;39(2):156-169. doi: 10.1057/s41271-017-0116-6.

"It just forces hardship": impacts of government financial penalties on non-vaccinating parents.

Author information

1
School of Public Health, The University of Sydney, Edward Ford Building A27, The University of Sydney, NSW, 2006, Australia. chel0445@uni.sydney.edu.au.
2
School of Public Health, The University of Sydney, Edward Ford Building A27, The University of Sydney, NSW, 2006, Australia.
3
Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, The University of Sydney, 88 Mallett St, Camperdown, NSW, 2050, Australia.
4
University Centre for Rural Health, The University of Sydney, Lismore, NSW, 2480, Australia.

Abstract

Despite strong evidence confirming vaccination is safe and effective, some parents choose not to vaccinate their children. In 2016, the Australian Government introduced legislation strengthening links between vaccination compliance and some government payments. We interviewed thirty-one non-vaccinating parents about the impacts of this policy. Data analysis produced three key themes: 'questioning policy integrity', 'minimising impact' and 'holding my ground'. Affected parents offset reduced income by removing children from early childhood learning, reducing work commitments, moving residence to reduce living costs and accessing informal childcare arrangements. Parents reported a greater commitment to their decision not to vaccinate and an increased desire to maintain control over health choices for their children including an unprecedented willingness to become involved in protest action. Our study identifies why financial penalties have not been an effective policy measure for this sample of non-vaccinating parents, an understanding which may assist in the development of future legislation.

KEYWORDS:

Childhood vaccination; Compliance; Financial penalties; Herd immunity; Immunisation; Vaccine refusal

PMID:
29358695
DOI:
10.1057/s41271-017-0116-6
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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