© Reuters/BeawihartaParents who do not vaccinate their children will miss out on payments of $700 per child under Labor's plan.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has today announced that parents who choose not to have their children vaccinated will miss out on thousands of dollars in government benefits.

Speaking at Westmead Hospital in Sydney, Mr Rudd said that those who do not vaccinate their children will not get the Family Tax Benefit A end-of-year supplement.

The payment is worth $726 per child, per year and is paid when children are vaccinated at one, two and five years of age.

Since last year, parents who have not immunised their children have not received the benefit; however, those registering as so-called conscientious objectors have.

Under Labor's policy, exemptions would only be made on religious or medical grounds.

Labor says it wants to boost immunisation rates and prevent children who are not vaccinated from getting diseases like whooping cough and measles, and putting others at risk.

The Government says the science of immunisation "cannot be disputed".

"Immunisation is the safest and most effective way for parents to protect their children from disease, and one of the most important public health measures at our disposal," a Government statement said.

Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek has told Sky News the plans will boost immunisation rates.

"It is one of the single more effective and cheapest ways of keeping our community healthy," she said.

"We think about 3 million lives are saved a year around the world.

"We're very lucky that in Australia so many of these diseases have almost disappeared that sometimes people become a bit complacent."

Australian Medical Association president Dr Steve Hambleton says the benefits of immunisation far outweigh the risks.

"The strong message here is the Government is rewarding people who do the right thing ... [and] fully immunise their children," he told ABC News 24.

"If we can get the immunisation rates above 90 per cent, we will abolish diseases like measles and can we can attack things like whooping cough."

Sydney's Daily Telegraph newspaper, which is read by thousands of voters in key Western Sydney seats, has been running a campaign critical of parents who do not vaccinate their children.