Shire’s vax rate open to scrutiny

Public primary schools in the Hepburn Shire would be among the hardest hit in the state if an opposition policy forcing school vaccination rates to be published was enforced.

The policy launched by Opposition Leader Matthew Guy on Monday would see the percentage of vaccinated children at all public schools placed on an online register which could be accessed by the public. 

Matthew Guy

Matthew Guy

Data from 2015 revealed the Hepburn Shire had the fourth-lowest vaccination rate in the state with just 86 per cent of children fully immunised, well below the 93.2 per cent state average. 

Mr Guy said the government had the responsibility to pass on any information to parents which could affect the health and well-being of their children.  

“I’m very much in support of immunisation and I think it’s incredibly sensible and I think it’s important that parents are provided with that information,” Mr Guy said.  

“I don’t think it punishes anyone but we shouldn’t shy away from giving parents information the government has.” 

While the policy would force the shire’s nine public primary schools to display their vaccination rates, the government does not have the authority to compel independent or Catholic schools to release the data, meaning St Augustine’s in Creswick, St Michael’s in Daylesford and the Daylesford Dharma School would all be exempt. 

Macedon Ranges MP Mary-Anne Thomas described the prospective policy as a “thought bubble” which would not address the issue. 

“Parents are already required to provide a proof of immunisation certificate when they enrol their child in primary school so that schools can take swift action in case of any outbreaks,” Ms Thomas said.  

“Our focus is on increasing vaccination rates in the community and helping schools manage their immunisation records.”  

The call comes after the federal government’s ‘No Jab, No Play’ policy came into effect in Victoria last year which prevented unvaccinated children without a medical exemption from going to kindergarten or daycare. 

While schools are able to provide additional information to parents who choose not to have their children vaccinated, they do not have the power to refuse entry to unvaccinated children. 

Immunisation certificates are not required when students are enrolling in high school.