Australian mother plans to set up anti-vaccination day care centre
by Jenni Ryall
Mashable Australia, 4 September 2015
An Australian mother has announced she is starting her own childcare centre for parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated.
Juanita "Wanda" Halden, who lives in Tabulam, in the northern region of New South Wales, wrote on Facebook she planned on creating the Anti Vaxx Childcare Project to "highlight human rights violations." According to the Daily Mail Australia, the mother-of-two is referring to Australia's "No jab, no play, no pay" policy.
The new vaccination policy by the Australian government will be introduced from Jan. 1, 2016 and will see the "conscientious objection" option removed as an exemption category for childcare payments, making child care benefits not available to parents who do not vaccinate their children by choice. Exemptions will still exist for medical or religious purposes.
"Australia now has childhood vaccination rates over 90 percent, from one to five years of age, but more needs to be done to ensure we protect our children and our community from preventable diseases," the government said in a statement in April.
"The choice made by families not to immunise their children is not supported by public policy or medical research nor should such action be supported by taxpayers in the form of child care payments."
Halden is vocal in her disagreement with this policy, and believes her anti-vaccination daycare centre is necessary to counter the government's policy — despite the new rules not including the banning of children from child care in Australia.
"I am a woman who answers to the creator — not corporation. Therefore I am the highest authority when it comes to making decisions concerned with my body or that of my property 'my child'," she wrote on Facebook. "I also value my ability to discern, research and understand the risks associated with my choices. Do not try to sway me. Or my rights. You will fail."
On her Facebook page, which has now been given tighter privacy settings, it is clear she has the support of other anti-vaccination supporters. But health authorities have warned the move is dangerous, especially because of the low vaccination coverage and higher whopping cough rates in the region where Halden lives.
“If you get a lot of unvaccinated children together, it’s like an incubator, a lot of vulnerable people together which supports the rapid transmission of vaccine-preventable diseases. It’s like throwing fuel on a fire, so it’s not a clever idea," Paul Corben, Director of Public Health for the Northern NSW Local Health District, told the Daily Telegraph.
Dr. Brian Morton, from the Australian Medical Association, believes the daycare centre will not get off the ground and the entire project is based on discredited science, such as the belief autism is caused by vaccinations and a reliance on homeopathic medicine.
"It's misinformed. It puts lives in danger. Not only the other children who will go there — but it's putting other children who they mix with at school or wherever else... at risk," Morton told the Daily Mail.
The number of children aged under seven whose parents have reported "conscientious objection" to a vaccination, as at December 2014, is 39,523 or 1.77% of children under 7, according to government records. This number has more than doubled since 2004, and the new government policy hopes to stop this rate increasing or reduce it.
Halden released a public statement saying she would not be giving further interviews until 2016, when the research and development phase of her project is set to begin.