Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt joins us now from Melbourne. Good morning to you, thanks for being with us Minister.
And good morning.
So talk us through what’s wrong with the State Government’s current approach to vaccinating kids. We have about 93 per cent of kids in Australia vaccinated. What’s wrong with that?
Look, the vaccination rates are high. They’re increasing. We’ve had 200,000 extra children in just over a year be vaccinated which is extremely important.
But the Prime Minister and I met with a mum, Toni McCaffery, on Friday. Her beautiful young, one month old Dana, lost a battle to whooping cough a few years ago.
It’s in all likelihood an illness that was picked up whilst dropping an older child at a childcare centre. Vaccination isn’t just for your child, it’s about protecting every child.
And so therefore we have to aim for 100 per cent. And so a tough policy, No Jab, No Pay, is being supplemented by an equally tough policy of No Jab, No Play.
We want to work with all of the states. And I’m very confident that they’ll come on board. But ultimately it’s about protecting kids against horrendous illnesses that are agonising and potentially in some cases tragic.
Look without getting too technical, Minister. How low does the vaccination rate have to drop before we lose the so-called herd immunity?
Well wherever there are gaps there are risks to what’s called herd immunity, or basically the immunity of the general population.
So the higher the rate, the lower the risk. It’s as simple as that. And I spoke at length yesterday with the Chief Medical Officer, who said our goal is very clear.
It simply has to be to aim for as close to 100 per cent as possible.
And these measures are humane, they’re about protecting lives, they’re about protecting people against lifelong consequences.
And my own wife, her first job in nursing was to nurse tiny babies who had whooping cough and she said you cannot imagine the angst and the agony and of course the potential tragic outcome.
So this is just our job as a Government. And I am very hopeful that the Prime Minister’s initiative will be adopted by all of the Premiers.
Do you think that this will then mean that those people that still don’t want to vaccinate their kids will just decide to keep them home and not send into day care centres at all? Because you’re just talking about the younger years here, it’s not primary school aged kids.
I think the more that we explain that this is about protecting your child, but also protecting everybody else’s child, the higher the rates will go.
And as I say, we’ve seen 200,000 additional vaccinations in just over a year. That’s a sign that the public is on board.
There’s a set of decades and decades of information that this protects and saves lives and that’s our job, vaccinate our kids, protect their lives and protect the lives of all of the other children with whom they play.
Minister, just on the detail of this. Under the current No Jab, No Pay policy, children can be exempted on both medical and religious grounds. There is talk in the paper this morning that those exemptions will now be cut.
Well medical grounds are an absolute exemption. Under No Jab, No Pay, which is what the Federal Government does, what we have is no conscientious objection. Basically it’s medical only.
Okay, so that includes religion.
Alright Minister. Thank you very much for being with us. We appreciate it.
Thanks very much. Take care guys.