Everything you need to know about getting your children immunised.
Immunisation is a safe and easy way to protect your children against a wide range of harmful diseases that can cause serious health issues and potentially death. Vaccines are designed to help your child stay healthy and enjoy the best possible start to life, which is something every parent wants.
To help you keep track of the vaccinations your child has been given, the Australian Government established the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). This national register records vaccinations given to Australians of all ages and makes it easy to manage your child’s immunisation schedule.
Features of the AIR include:
- Children and young adults under 20 years of age who are enrolled in Medicare are automatically included on the Immunisation Register.
- Parents of children under 14 years of age can get a copy of their child’s immunisation history at any time for an update on the vaccinations their child has been given or still needs to receive.
- Children and young adults 14 years or older can get a copy of their own immunisation record at any time.
- You can check your child’s (or your own) immunisation history statement at any time by using your Medicare online account through myGov, or the Express Plus Medicare mobile app.
- Vaccination providers can use the AIR to check a patient’s vaccination history.
- Your child’s vaccination history can be used as proof of immunisation for child care and school enrolments.
- Most immunisations are linked to family assistance payments.
- The AIR helps health professionals track immunisation levels in Australia.
What’s my child’s vaccine schedule?
Not sure which vaccinations your child needs to receive and when? The below table outlines the National Immunisation Program Schedule.
If your child misses a vaccination, your doctor or immunisation provider can help you work out a catch-up schedule to get your child back on track. Under the Australian Government’s Immunise Australia Program:
- Kids under 10 years of age can be vaccinated for free
- From 1 January 2016 until the end of 2017, kids 10 or older can be vaccinated for free
Contact your state or territory health department for details on which vaccinations are given at which grade levels.
|Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders|
|12-18 months (in high-risk areas)||Pneumococcal conjugate (13vPCV)|
|12-24 months (in high-risk areas)||Hepatitis A|
|6 months to less than 5 years||Influenza (flu)|
|15 years and over|
|50 years and over||Pneumococcal polysaccharide (23vPPV)|
Is immunisation mandatory?
From 1 January 2016, Australian parents who don't fully immunise their children (up to 19 years of age) won't be eligible for a range of family assistance payments including the Child Care Benefit, Child Care Rebate and the Family Tax Benefit Part A end of year supplement. This so-called “No Jab, No Pay” legislation means that conscientious objection and vaccination objection on non-medical grounds are no longer accepted as valid exemption from immunisation requirements.
However, kids with medical contraindications or natural immunity for certain diseases are still exempt from the immunisation requirements.
How do I pay for vaccinations?
Most essential vaccines are free in Australia and covered by the National Immunisation Program. The National Immunisation Program Schedule lists 16 infectious diseases against which your child can be vaccinated for free.
Free vaccinations are available for the following diseases:
Who might not need to be vaccinated?
There are some specific circumstances where it is unsafe for a person to be vaccinated. These can include:
- If the person has a severe or life-threatening allergy to a component of the vaccine
- If the person is pregnant or nursing a child
- If the person does not meet certain age requirements
- If the person is suffering from vomiting or diarrhoea at the time the vaccination is due to be administered, or is simply not feeling well
- If the person has HIV/AIDS or another disease that affects the immune system
Ask your vaccination provider about the situations and circumstances where it is not safe to get a specific vaccine.
Australian immunisation FAQ
How does immunisation work?
- When a person is given a vaccine, their body produces an immune response to the vaccine just as it would when infected with a disease, but without the person suffering any symptoms of the disease. As a result, if the person comes in contact with the same disease in the future, their immune system will respond quickly enough to prevent them contracting the disease.
Are vaccines safe?
- Yes. All vaccines approved for use in Australia must first undergo stringent safety testing by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Where can I get vaccinated?
- Vaccines included in the National Immunisation Program can be obtained from recognised immunisation providers such as GPs and nurses at local councils and community health clinics.
How long do immunisations last?
- Some immunisations can offer protection against a disease for as long as 30 years. However, the length of effectiveness varies depending on the vaccine. For example, influenza immunisation is needed annually due to the regular changes in the type of flu virus present in the community.
Are there any side effects?
- Some children will experience some very minor side effects after being given a vaccination, such as soreness and swelling at the injection site, mild fever and unsettled behaviour. However, serious reactions are rare – consult your doctor immediately if they occur.
Should parents be immunised?
- Yes. Parents, grandparents and other people who come into contact with young children could be carrying common childhood infections, so they should be vaccinated against these diseases. Ask your doctor or immunisation provider for more information on what you should be immunised for.
What sort of vaccinations do I need to get before I travel overseas?
- If you’re planning an overseas holiday, visit your GP well in advance of your planned travel dates to find out what vaccinations you need to receive before travelling. You can also find out more information about vaccinations and overseas travel in our handy guide.
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