Unvaccinated children would be banned from childcare centres and preschools under an Australian government plan.

Unvaccinated children would be banned from childcare centres and preschools across the country under a push by the federal government.

Some Australian states already have “no jab, no play” laws, but now PM Malcolm Turnbull is calling for nationwide legislation.

Mr Turnbull said more needed to be done, citing the case of a baby who died from whooping cough.

“This is not a theoretical exercise – this is life and death,” Mr Turnbull said. “If a parent says, ‘I’m not going to vaccinate my child,’ they are not simply putting their child at risk, they are putting everybody else’s children at risk too.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has written to premiers and chief ministers urging them to take a firm stance on the issue.

“Parents must understand that if their child is not vaccinated they will be refused attendance or enrolment.” Turnbull told News Corp: “If you don’t vaccinate your child you are not just putting their own life at risk but you are putting everyone else’s children at risk.”

The federal health minister, Greg Hunt, said the government’s “no jab, no pay” policy of withholding family payments to parents of unvaccinated children was being supplemented by an “equally tough” policy of “no jab, no play”.

“We want to work with all of the states and I’m very confident that they’ll come on board,” he told the Seven Network. “Ultimately it’s about protecting kids against horrendous illnesses that are agonising and potentially in some cases tragic.”

Health groups have supported the push, arguing parents and the community have an obligation to protect children.

An Australian Child Health Poll survey of nearly 2,000 parents showed 5% of children were not fully vaccinated.

Vaccinating children is not a legal requirement in Australia, but failing to do so makes parents ineligible for childcare rebates.

Three Australian states – Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria – already required children to be immunised, or be on an approved catch-up programme, to enrol in childcare centres.

Australian Medical Association president Michael Gannon said children were more susceptible to infections.

“If you, as a parent, expect the community to support you by either welfare payments or access to care, then you need to do your bit to contribute to that community by protecting other children,” he told Fairfax Media.