New Measures to Encourage Childhood Vaccinations

The federal Department of Health (DoH) recently instituted a measure, which withdraws family assistance payments (Child Care Benefit, Child Care Rebate and Family Tax Benefit Part A Supplement) for families whose children have not completed their vaccination schedule unless they are placed on a catch-up schedule, or have an approved medical exemption.

The current National Immunisation Program provides free vaccines for children under 10 on an ongoing basis, and until the end of 2017 the government has announced it will also provide free vaccines for families wishing to immunise their 10 to 19 year old children.

Affected families were contacted about the program by the DoH in December through a postal campaign, which encouraged GP follow-up for catch-up vaccinations.

What does this mean for general practices?

Families may come in to request their children be vaccinated and verified as up-to-date so they can continue to receive assistance payments. If the child’s vaccination status is unknown, the family can check their vaccination status using their Medicare online account through myGov, or the Express Plus Medicare mobile app. Practitioners and vaccination providers can also use the ACIR secure area of the Health Professional Online Service to check an individual’s vaccination status.

Practices should ensure that practitioners understand the latest National Immunisation Program Schedule, and the Department has published information about handling and storing vaccines, managing adverse events following immunisation, and a detailed publication about how to address the immunisation myths that some families may raise.

Practices may also be interested to download or order printed copies of the Department’s resources for families, such as the Your Guide to Understanding Childhood Vaccination booklet or the Fact sheets addressing commonly held concerns regarding vaccination.

There is also a great resource for practices, No Jab, No Pay – New Immunisation Requirements for Family Assistance Payments, which outlines how practitioners can ensure patients are eligible for free catch-up vaccinations and how to report a valid medical exemption to ACIR.

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