PM says he backs immunisation but, unlike in Aust, decision should be up to parents.

Despite overwhelming evidence in favour of immunisation, the Government will not revisit a proposal to make it a condition of the benefit, Prime Minister John Key says.

The Australian Government intends to stop benefit payments to parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.

Such a "no jab, no pay" policy could cost parents more than A$15,000 ($15,255) a year per child.

The New Zealand Government opted against a similar measure in 2012 because it believed immunisation should be the parents' choice.

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Yesterday Mr Key said that decision would not be reviewed.

"Ninety-four per cent of children are vaccinated, the vast bulk of parents take the important step to vaccinate their children, and I applaud them for that.

"But there should be an element of personal choice ... because there is always a risk - it is a very minute risk, and in my view, as a parent, a much greater risk if you actually don't vaccinate your children.

"But if the state forced a child to be vaccinated, and the child had a significant medical reaction and potentially died as a result of that, that would be a huge burden that the state would have put on those parents."

In Australia, parents with un-immunised children have been able to receive welfare payments if they have a philosophical or religious objection to vaccines.

Health officials in some countries have linked a return of preventable childhood diseases such as measles with growing anti-vaccination campaigns.

Hilary Butler said her two grown sons had not been immunised, and targeting families that made the same choice would be a mistake.
Hilary Butler said her two grown sons had not been immunised, and targeting families that made the same choice would be a mistake.

Australia has vaccination rates of over 90 per cent for children aged 1 to 5 years, ABC News reported, with more than 39,000 children aged under 7 not vaccinated because of their parents' objections - an increase of 24,000 over the past decade.

In New Zealand, the Government had considered making immunisation a condition of the benefit when passing the welfare reforms in 2012 after the Welfare Working Group recommended it.

However, then Social Development Minister Paula Bennett opted against it.

In her Cabinet paper on the issue, she stated: "This decision should remain with parents because immunisation is a medical treatment. Removing the right to refuse medical treatment would be an unjustifiable breach of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act."

Immunisation sceptic Hilary Butler said her two grown sons had not been immunised, and targeting families that made the same choice would be a mistake.

"We have the highest rate of vaccination that we have ever had ... why would you suddenly be making criminals of children who aren't vaccinated?"