Shadow Minister for the Illawarra, Ryan Park, has come out in support of NSW Labor’s strong legislation against anti-vaccination introduced to the Parliament this week.
Mr Park said that the legislation took on a personal dimension in the week that it was introduced to Parliament. Mr Park came into contact with an older gentleman who has spent his life wheelchair bound, after being the victim of polio from the age of sixteen.
The gentleman, Mr Keith Hill, of Tarrawanna, expressed how passionate he was about locals being vaccinated.
The eradication of Polio in Australia is a strong example of how vaccinations can successful rid a country of debilitating diseases. The last reported contraction of polio was reported in 1972, and Australia’s long-standing immunity to the disease is as a direct result of high immunisation levels.
NSW Labor’s legislation to ban the setting up of specialist anti-vaccination child care centres in NSW – to plug a current legal loophole. Under the legislation, the bill will remove the so-called “conscientious objector clause”, however, it will retain a specialist provision for children who cannot be vaccinated due to a medical condition such as cancer treatment.
Furthermore, the bill carries a maximum penalty of $5,500 for a principal or operator of a service enrolling a child without a vaccination certificate or a certificate exempting them on medical grounds. Labor’s legislation will also cover family day care operations.
Mr Park has thrown his support behind the law. The 2517 postcode, within his electorate of Keira, has the second highest vaccination rate in the country. Mr Park has pointed to this as a reason why it is so important that the inroads made in vaccinations are not put at risk, and that this legislation protects the achievements made.
The Member for Keira has pointed to reports in recent months of patients presenting to NSW hospitals with vaccine preventable diseases like tetanus, whooping cough and measles. Mr Park knows that the Illawarra’s high rates of vaccination need to be upheld for the future health of the Illawarra community.
Vaccination rates in the Illawarra are frequently above 90%, with a 2014 report showing that Woonona and Russell Vale had a 98% immunisation rate.
Mr Park said that this high immunisation rate needed to be protected in order to successfully achieve ‘herd’ immunity in the high 90s per cent so that we can provide a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that occurs when a large percentage of a population has become immune.
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for the Illawarra Ryan Park
“The eradication of polio is a crystal clear example of the power of vaccinations to cure a country of a disease. We must never be complacent about the power of vaccinations to change lives.
“I heard of Mr Hill’s passionate plea for people to get immunised against vaccines. A polio vaccine when he was young would have changed the cause of his life. That’s why I’m pleased to stand up for tougher vaccine legislation.
“As a father, raising my children in the Illawarra, I believe that these reforms will help ensure that all children are protected. That gives me peace of mind.
“I thank Mr Hill for being a passionate advocate for vaccinations. While polio isn’t coming back, it is vital that we try and eradicate other diseases in the same way.
“Make no mistake; vaccinations have saved millions of lives in the developed and developing world, and improved the quality of life of millions more.
“We need to be encouraging vaccinations not discouraging them. Vaccinations are the only way to protect against serious diseases like polio, mumps, whooping cough, meningococcal, diphtheria and tetanus.