Do Australian financial incentives 'coerce' vaccinations?

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Do Australian Financial Incentives 'Coerce' Vaccinations?

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Sunday his nation will adopt a "no jab, no pay" policy to block parents who refuse to vaccinate their children from accessing some government benefits.

"This is essentially a no jab, no pay policy from this government," said Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

CNN reports that Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children can lose up to $11,000 of welfare benefits a year under a new government policy.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's government is making it harder for parents to opt out of vaccinations for their children.

"No jab, no pay," meaning Australian parents who choose not to have their children vaccinated can lose child care and welfare benefits.

"I'm just very pro-choice. It's a very complex issue," said one woman.

"I'm not sure. I gotta tell you I can see both sides of it," another told Australia's Prime7 News.

Though they've had some time to think about it. The Australian government has been considering financial incentives for years.

A Change.org petition calls the plan coercive and manipulative, saying it puts low income families in particular in the position of not legally consenting to immunizations.

As much as $11,000 in benefits could be at stake - unless parents register as conscientious objectors or have medical or religious reasons for choosing not to vaccinate.

Though Social Services Minister Scott Morrison has noted there are no mainstream religious groups in Australia that officially object to vaccinations.

There is, however, apparently a small religious sect that does - and Morrison wouldn't publicly reveal its name over fears parents would convert to avoid vaccines.

Health experts say vaccines have made diseases like polio and diphtheria rare, and that immunizations are vital for public health. Vaccines work by prompting the body to make antibodies.

By government estimates, 39,000 Australian children haven't been vaccinated. Parents who opt out have varying reasons. Some think shots cause autism - a theory that's been widely discredited in the scientific community.

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Do Australian financial incentives 'coerce' vaccinations?
Vaccinating an infant, Photo essay from a Maternal and Infantile Protection center. 4 month old baby girl. (Photo by: BSIP/UIG via Getty Images)
In this Friday, Sept. 12, 2014 photo, a local health worker administers a vaccine to a baby at a local health center at the financial district of Makati, east of Manila, Philippines. The World Health Organization and the British government are working with the Philippine Department of Health, UNICEF and a host of other partners to help deliver a month-long campaign to immunize children against Measles, Rubella, commonly known as German measles, and Polio which aims to immunize 13 million children nationwide. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
ALEPPO, SYRIA - MAY 5: A health worker gives polio vaccine drops to a Syrian child during the polio vaccination campaign organized by Syrian National Coalitions Assistance Coordination Unit (ACU), Turkey's Health Ministry and Turkish Red Crescent on May 05, 2014 in Aleppo, Syria. (Photo by ACU/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ALEPPO, SYRIA - MAY 5: A health worker gives polio vaccine drops to a Syrian child during the polio vaccination campaign organized by Syrian National Coalitions Assistance Coordination Unit (ACU), Turkey's Health Ministry and Turkish Red Crescent on May 05, 2014 in Aleppo, Syria. (Photo by ACU/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A Pakistani health worker administers polio vaccine drops to a young girl in Quetta on May 12, 2014. Pakistan will set up mandatory immunisation points at airports to help stop its polio outbreak spreading abroad, officials said, though a health minister said the move played into the Taliban's hands. The World Health Organisation warned that the crippling disease has re-emerged as a public health emergency -- with the virus currently affecting 10 countries worldwide and endemic in three including Pakistan -- and urged infected nations to implement vaccine requirements for all international travel. AFP PHOTO/Banaras KHAN (Photo credit should read BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A Pakistan health worker gives polio vaccine drops to a child in Peshawar on September 11, 2012 . Pakistan There have been 30 confirmed cases of polio in Pakistan this year according to the government, 22 of them in the Pashtun tribal areas of the northwest, bordering Afghanistan, where Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants have forged strongholds. Pakistan had a total of 91 polio cases last year, but the battle to convince people in the tribal areas, where education is limited and deeply conservative values hold sway, is a tough one. AFP PHOTO / A. MAJEED (Photo credit should read A. MAJEED/AFP/Getty Images)
An Indian health worker administers polio drops to a child during a vaccination campaign in Amritsar on February 7, 2010. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative has achieved successes since the World Health Assembly launched the project in 1988. Although the number of polio cases in India decreased from 134 in 2004 to 66 in 2005, a dramatic increase occurred in 2006, with a total of 660 cases reported as of January 31, 2007, which accounts for a third of all new polio cases worldwide that year. AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU (Photo credit should read NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)
An infant is given polio vaccine, at a camp in Keraniganj, Dhaka, Bangladesh. About 24 million children through out the country were given polio vaccines to eliminate the disease form the country on March 3, 3007. (Photo by: Majority World/UIG via Getty Images)
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