By Helen Petousis Harris 03/06/2016

Today is sunny and the measles outbreak is still reigning. I wonder how many tax dollars have now been spent on this little plague thus far.

New Zealand has an estimated 400,000 young people susceptible to measles, mainly the 80s and 90s kids that didn’t get immunised and are still unimmunised. Schools have had to close. I whinged about the misconceptions about MMR vaccine last week  but today I want to mention civil liberty, or the state of being subject to laws established for the good of the community. There is no law that says you have to be vaccinated in NZ but surely choices should have consequences? One person’s civil liberty should not take precedence over the health and safety of others.

I do think we need more open discussion about the accountability when ‘informed choice’ results in pain, suffering and big bucks. Knowingly exposing others to infectious diseases or unnecessary interventions and misery amounts to encroaching on the rights of others does it not? What do you think about these questions on the cost to society when people refuse to vaccinate their kids?:

  • Who pays for the investigation and management of a measles outbreak that originates in an unvaccinated person brining measles to their unvaccinated family and spreading to their unvaccinated friends while dozens of health workers spend thousands of hours trying to prevent the spread? The MMR vaccine costs the taxpayer just a few dollars. Controlling a small outbreak with 100 or so cases is in the millions. [Read more about costs of measles outbreaks here from Tara Haelle]
  • Who breaks the news to the family that their child with leukaemia has measles and there is no treatment?
  • Who pays for the more the $300-600 worth of tetanus immunoglobulin required by the unvaccinated child who fell off their bike onto the dirty gravel?
  • Who has to slowly inject large amounts of thick human derived blood product into the little muscles of the child who fell off their bike while they scream in agony?
  • Who pays the ACC levies that pay the doctor and nurse who clean up the kid after bike accident?
  • Who pays for the weeks to months in intensive care followed by rehabilitation required by the other kid who scratched their leg climbing a tree and developed tetanus? A bed in intensive care costs about $3000 per night and that is before you add up the bells and whistles like ventilation and fancy drugs.

Outbreaks cost us . Now because sex sells I want to give it a mention.

The Australian Sex Party are all about stuff that does not encroach on the civil liberties of others. Issues such as religious institutions paying taxes, preventing the harassment of women seeking abortion, gay rights, voluntary euthanasia and so on. They also support vaccination to protect public health and reduce the spread of preventable issues.

Below is their response to Oz anti vaxxer Meryl Dorey when she requested their position on “both No Jab, No Pay/No Play legislation and the right of Australian citizens to make free and informed health choices for their families without financial penalty or discrimination”

Dear Ms Dorey,

I am pleased to respond on behalf of the Australian Sex Party, to your request for information on our position on vaccination issues. I’d like to request that my response be published in full, and unedited, on both your website and social media. Please do share it widely.

The Australian Sex Party believes in individual liberty, and the freedom to make choices regarding your own life. With this freedom, however, comes responsibility. As members of our community, and beneficiaries of the privileges provided by the community, we have an obligation to ensure that exercising our freedom does not put others at undue risk.

No Jab, No Pay. The Federal Government’s No Jab, No Pay measures aim to reduce the spread of preventable disease. Knowingly and willingly putting one’s own child and others at risk of dangerous and preventable diseases is irresponsible, reckless, and antisocial. The Australian Sex Party does not believe that those who choose not to participate in our collective enterprise of disease prevention should be rewarded with tax benefits or rebates. In Australia, parents are not forced to vaccinate their children. Those who contribute to the broader community’s health by vaccinating their children (or have genuine medical exemptions), receive a contribution from the community in the form of the FTB-A end-of-year supplement, Child Care Benefit, and Child Care Rebate payments. The Australian Sex Party supports this public health measure.

No Jab, No Play. Victoria’s No Jab, No Play laws were introduced to protect public health. The Australian Sex Party believes that if a parent wishes to use our community’s early childhood education and care services, they should be expected to play their part in protecting the community from preventable diseases. Those who choose to endanger the health of others by not vaccinating their children should not be welcome to do so in an early childhood care setting.

The right of Australian citizens to make free and informed health choices for their families without financial penalty or discrimination. The Australian Sex Party supports the right of Australian citizens (and others) to make free and informed health choices for their families. The Party does not, however, believe that going against the best scientific information available, represents an informed health choice. The anti-vaccination movement encourages parents to “do your own research”, however doing “research” by reading web-pages is not comparable to actual research done by scientists who work hard to protect us all from dangerous and debilitating disease. The Australian Sex Party rejects the insinuation that expecting all parents to participate in preventing diseases is a form of discrimination.

The safety and efficacy of vaccination is not an area of scientific controversy. The claim that governments and scientists are all conspiring to mislead us for some nefarious purpose is absurd and irresponsible. The dangers of complications from vaccines are much lower than the dangers posed by childhood diseases such as measles. The claims of the anti-vaccination movement have been thoroughly debunked. Choosing not to vaccinate your children amounts to medical neglect; this is a serious ethical issue. Whilst it can be tempting to imagine that we parents have access to some special kind of knowledge that somehow eludes the scientific community, it’s just not so. We at the Australian Sex Party would like to encourage parents who are questioning what’s right for their children, to follow the advice of the scientific and medical communities, rather than charlatans and conspiracy theorists.


Darren Austin
Senior Policy Advisor
Australian Sex Party