TODAY |

High profile NZ doctor calls for 'no jab, no pay' policy on this side of Tasman

Prominent New Zealand doctor Lance O'Sullivan wants the Government to follow Australia in cutting welfare payments to parents who do not vaccinate their children.

Lance O'sullivan Source: Breakfast

The policy announced by Australia at the weekend has been dubbed "no jab, no pay" and Dr O'Sullivan says it would help protect the most vulnerable in New Zealand society.

"I think the bottom line for me is we need to have strategies and initiatives that will protect our children, and in particular vulnerable children, and by definition that would be children living in welfare homes," he told the New Zealand Herald.

"This is not and shouldn't be seen as a welfare benefit bashing sort of idea," he said.

"I would see this as a proactive idea to ensure those very vulnerable children are protected by a best practice decision, which is immunising children. We know that if you have children immunised they're going to have reduced disease and burden of disease."

Dr O'Sullivan, who was named New Zealander of the Year 2014, told the Herald all parents, no matter their income, should be compelled to vaccinate their children.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Mr Abbott and his Social Services Minister, Scott Morrison, announced on Sunday that from next year people who claimed to be "conscientious objectors" to vaccination would no longer receive a childcare benefit, childcare rebate and a type of the family tax.

Dr O'Sullivan says he sees worrying, vaccine preventable diseases in his practice and his community. "We see children with pneumonia, and other serious infections that we know should be non-existent, or at least very rare, in our communities and in our country."

Prime Minister John Key has already ruled out following his Australian counterpart with the policy, saying he didn't want to remove the element of personal choice from parents.

But Dr O'Sullivan said he would not be deterred, saying, "I don't know how many deprived children I've dealt with who've been incredibly sick recently."

"I believe a person who's working at the coal-face of the impacts of diseases that are preventable by vaccination on a weekly, if not daily basis, I believe this is a positive step," he added.

He suggested a system where a family benefit would have a monetary base-amount, and parents would receive incentives if they met certain conditions, such as vaccinating their children and enrolling them to early childhood centres.