New research from BC Children’s Hospital and the University of British Columbia suggests about a quarter of people in B.C. believe parents should have to pay a fine or tax if their child’s immunizations aren’t up to date. (File)

Should B.C. parents receive money if they make sure their kids are vaccinated?

New survey looks at public opinion around government’s role in forcing immunizations

Should parents get financial compensation for making sure their child is fully vaccinated?

A study, released Wednesday by the BC Children’s Hospital and UBC, suggests nearly 30 per cent of British Columbians agree with the idea of giving parents a tax break if their child has all age-recommended vaccinations. Another 20 per cent agree with an even further idea: Parents receiving some kind of financial reward, and not simply a tax credit.

READ MORE: B.C. launches immunization program at schools to stamp out measles resurgence

Lead researcher Dr. Julie Bettinger mainly examined public opinion as to how far government should go in forcing immunizations. Her study was conducted in 2017, but its results remain relevant because of the recent measles cases throughout B.C.

About 23 per cent of British Columbians agree with parents having to pay a fine or tax if their child’s immunizations aren’t up to date. Another 10 per cent agreed parents who lose their jobs should be denied unemployment benefits if their children aren’t immunized.

“Some other countries have implemented policies that create financial penalties for not vaccinating, but our research indicates such measures would not be acceptable to most British Columbians,” said Bettinger.

“Our research provides a snapshot of popular attitudes towards vaccines and vaccine policy. It is important context for policy makers tackling the growing public health issue of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illness.”

Eighty per cent of survey respondents supported requiring parents to report their child’s vaccination status at school, as well as requiring “anti-vaxxers” to sign a form stating their choice not to comply with medical advice.

READ MORE: Measles vaccine registry likely for B.C. schools this fall

The vast majority of respondents also supported mandatory education sessions for parents who do not vaccinate their children and even banning unvaccinated kids from school, unless they have a medical exemption.

Meanwhile, BC Children’s Hospital said previous research suggests one to three per cent of people cannot be persuaded to vaccinate at all, and that 15 to 20 per cent are unsure and want more information.

The growing number of confirmed cases of measles in B.C., now at 27, has prompted the province to implement at-school clinics for children to get the shot, as well as a plans for a registry for vaccination status this fall.

The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal and funded by the British Columbia Immunization Committee, which makes recommendations to the Ministry of Health on the implementation of a new or revised vaccine program.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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