Wednesday, 9 August 2017
I further want to impress upon the House that this bill is not about parents seeking exemption from immunisation simply because of their views on vaccination formed by reading outlandish online forums or following paleo-hungry celebrities. Some specialist immunisation clinics have approached the Department of Health since the AIR commenced. Just like the medical specialist clinics in my electorate of Ryan, they have continued to advocate the consideration for paediatricians, public health physicians, infectious disease physicians and clinical immunologists to be recognised as being able to assess for medical exemptions. Feedback received from specialist clinics indicates that the current practice sees patients being sent to general practitioners to get a medical exemption. Like many members here today who are parents, we understand and appreciate that this scenario is burdensome for already time-poor mums and dads. Expanding the numbers of those who can assess for medical exemptions will reduce the number of referrals and appointments patients would need. It will also ensure that the most vulnerable and those living with complex illnesses are afforded the best possible care available. This further demonstrates that through smart coalition policy Australian families are benefitting.
With highly infectious but easily preventable diseases like measles, the rate of immunisation required to interrupt disease transmission—also known as herd immunity—is above 95 per cent, a mark that we are still short of. Vaccination is one area of life where it pays to be part of a crowd. I wonder if One Nation Western Australia Senator-elect Peter Georgiou will now advocate for immunisation, given his run-in with the measles which delayed his swearing-in—no doubt much to the embarrassment of his colleagues and Senator Hanson, who was recently attributed with critical comments about Australia's vaccination program. The regularly-quoted this evening Dr Michael Gannon, head of the Australian Medical Association, went as far as to say that he was appalled by Senator Hanson's remarks, emphatically stating that the comments could have a damaging effect on those less-informed Australians who are already marred by the controversial debate by flat-earthers who do not accept science and vaccination.
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