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Immunisation - childhood

Summary

Immunisation helps to protect babies and children against serious childhood infections. Routine childhood immunisations protect against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis), polio, pneumococcal disease, meningococcal C disease, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), rotavirus, chickenpox (varicella), measles, mumps and rubella (German measles). Serious side effects or allergic reactions to the vaccines are rare.

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Immunisation from an early age is highly recommended for all Australian children. Having your child immunised helps to protect them from the most serious childhood infections, some of which may threaten their lives.

Routine childhood immunisations help to protect your child against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis), polio, pneumococcal disease, meningococcal C disease, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), rotavirus, chickenpox (varicella), measles, mumps and rubella (German measles).

The National Immunisation Program provides the routine childhood immunisations recommended for all children in Australia, free of charge. Some groups are more at risk than others in the community and may need additional vaccinations.

See your doctor or local health clinic to have your child immunised. All Victorian local councils run immunisation sessions.

Immunisation and young children


In the first months of life, a baby might have some protection from a specific infectious disease but only if the mother has had that infectious disease or has been immunised. This is known as passive immunity and occurs when antibodies are transferred from mother to baby during pregnancy. The level of antibody protection for the baby can be low and wears off quickly and this puts them at risk of diseases that can be prevented with vaccination.

Most childhood immunisations are given as an injection in the arm or leg, except rotavirus vaccine, which is administered by mouth. Doses of vaccine may contain vaccine against one specific disease or provide immunity for several diseases if a number of vaccines are combined in the same injection. This helps to reduce the number of injections your child needs.

Immunisation schedule Victoria for babies and young children


The Immunisation schedule Victoria outlines the vaccines that are routinely provided free of charge to all Victorian children under the National Immunisation Program. It also outlines the age at which each vaccination should be given. New vaccines against serious infections continue to be developed and the schedule might be updated in the future.

AgeDiseaseVaccine brandCommon reactions
BirthHepatitis BH-B-Vax II PaediatricMild temperature, pain at the injection site
Two monthsDiphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)Infanrix hexaMild temperature, pain at the injection site, drowsiness, irritability/crying
PneumococcalPrevenar 13Mild temperature, pain at the injection site
Rotavirus RotaTeqMild temperature, vomiting and diarrhoea up to seven days after immunisation
Four monthsDiphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)Infanrix hexaMild temperature, pain at the injection site, drowsiness, irritability/crying
PneumococcalPrevenar 13Mild temperature, pain at the injection site
Rotavirus RotaTeqMild temperature, vomiting and diarrhoea up to seven days after immunisation
Six monthsDiphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)Infanrix hexaMild temperature, pain at the injection site, drowsiness, irritability/crying
PneumococcalPrevenar 13Mild temperature, pain at the injection site
RotavirusRotaTeqMild temperature, vomiting and diarrhoea up to seven days after immunisation
12 monthsMeasles, mumps, rubella (MMR)M-M-R II/PriorixAbout seven to 10 days after vaccination: fever (can be over 39C), faint red non-infectious rash, drowsiness, runny nose, cough or puffy eyes, swollen salivary glands
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), Meningococcal CMenitorixMild temperature, loss of appetite, irritability/crying
18 monthsMeasles, mumps, rubella, varicella (chickenpox) (MMRV)Priorix-TetraAbout seven to 10 days after vaccination: fever (can be over 39 C), faint red non-infectious rash, drowsiness, runny nose, cough or puffy eyes, swollen salivary glands
About five to 26 days after vaccination: mild rash like chickenpox
Four yearsDiphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polioInfanrix IPVMild temperature, irritability/crying, drowsiness
Four yearsMeasles, mumps, rubella (only given if MMRV was not given at 18 months)M-M-R II/PriorixAbout seven to 10 days after vaccination: fever (can be over 39 C), faint red non-infectious rash, drowsiness, runny nose, cough or puffy eyes, swollen salivary glands

Immunising your child is important


All parents must provide a school entry immunisation certificate when they enrol their child in primary school. This is a document that shows your child’s immunisation status. Your child’s immunisation history status is automatically provided to you from the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register when your child turns 18 months of age and five years of age.

You can also request the immunisation history statement at any time using the Medicare Online Services or by contacting the Australian Department of Human Services (DHS) or the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register.

To encourage parents to immunise their children at the appropriate age, the Australian Government also provides a Maternity Immunisation Allowance (MIA) for immunised children (or for those with an approved exemption from immunisation). This payment is not income tested and is paid in two instalments. The first instalment is paid between 18 and 24 months of age and the second instalment is paid after the four-year-old immunisations and before the child turns five.

Preparing for your child’s immunisation


When you take your child for each vaccination, it important to take your child’s My Health and Development Record (the green book introduced in October 2011) or Child Health Record (this earlier version is blue and was used before October 2011) so that the doctor, nurse or health worker can record your child’s visit. These records are an important reminder of when your child’s next immunisations are due and which children in the family are immunised.

There is also the option of setting up an eHealth record for your child and downloading the My Child’s eHealth Record app from the eHealth.gov.au website.

Pre-immunisation checklist


Before the immunisation, you need to tell the doctor or nurse if your child:
  • is unwell (temperature over 38.5 ˚C)
  • has had a severe reaction following any vaccine
  • has any severe allergies to any other medications or substances
  • has had any vaccine in the past month
  • has had an injection of immunoglobulin or received any blood products or a whole blood transfusion within the past year
  • was a pre-term infant born less than 32 weeks gestation, or weighing less than 2000 g at birth
  • as a baby, has had an intussusception (a blockage caused by one portion of the bowel sliding into the next piece of bowel like the pieces of a telescope)
  • has a chronic illness
  • has a bleeding disorder
  • does not have a functioning spleen
  • lives with someone with a disease or who is having treatment that causes lower immunity – examples include leukaemia, cancer or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (aids), oral steroid medications, radiotherapy or chemotherapy
  • has a disease which lowers immunity (such as leukaemia, cancer or HIV/AIDS) or is having treatment that causes low immunity (such as oral steroid medications, radiotherapy or chemotherapy)
  • identifies as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person.

Side effects after immunisation


Immunisations are effective and safe although all medications can have unwanted side effects. Some children may experience a reaction to a vaccine. In virtually all cases, immunisation side effects are not as serious as the symptoms a child would experience if they were to contract the disease.

The mild side effects can include a mild fever and pain at the injection site. For specific information about side effects from different doses of vaccine, ask your doctor or healthcare professional.

Managing fever after immunisation


Common side effects following immunisation are usually mild and temporary (occurring in the first few days after vaccination). Specific treatment is not usually required.

There are a number of treatment options that can reduce the side effects of the vaccine including:
  • giving extra fluids to drink and not overdressing if there is a fever
  • although routine use of paracetamol after vaccination is not recommended, if fever is present, paracetamol can be given – check the label for the correct dose or speak with your pharmacist, (especially when giving paracetamol to children).

Managing injection site discomfort


Many vaccine injections may result in soreness, redness, itching, swelling or burning at the injection site for one to two days. Paracetamol might be required to ease the discomfort.

Concerns about side effects of immunisation


If the side effect following immunisation is unexpected, persistent or severe or if you are worried about yourself or your child’s condition after a vaccination, see your doctor or immunisation nurse as soon as possible or go directly to a hospital. Immunisation side effects may be reported to SAEFVIC, the Victorian vaccine safety and central reporting service.

You can discuss with your immunisation provider how to report adverse events in other states or territories. It is also important to seek medical advice if you (or your child) are unwell, as this may be due to other illness rather than because of the vaccination.

Rare side effects of immunisation


There is a very small risk of a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to any vaccine. This is why you are advised to stay at the clinic or medical surgery for at least 15 minutes following immunisation in case further treatment is required.

If your child misses an immunisation


To fully protect your child and avoid unnecessary costs, it is best to immunise your child at the recommended age. If you have fallen behind or missed a session, the vaccine schedule can be safely continued as if there had been no delay. Ask your doctor or immunisation provider about catch-up doses of vaccine.

There is no need to repeat doses already received before having catch-up doses. However, a significant delay could mean that your child will not be eligible for a free vaccine, as these are generally given for specified age groups.

Immunisation and HALO


The immunisations you may need are decided by your health, age, lifestyle and occupation. Together, these factors are referred to as HALO.

Talk to your doctor or immunisation provider if you think you or someone in your care has health, age, lifestyle or occupation factors that could mean immunisation is necessary. You can check your immunisation HALO using the Immunisation for Life infographic (pdf) downloadable poster.

Where to get help

  • Your doctor
  • In an emergency, always call triple zero (000)
  • Emergency department of your nearest hospital
  • Your local government immunisation service
  • Maternal and Child Health Line (24 hours) Tel. 132 229
  • NURSE-ON-CALL Tel. 1300 60 60 24 – for expert health information and advice (24 hours, 7 days)
  • Immunisation Program, Department of Health, Victorian Government Tel. 1300 882 008
  • National Immunisation Information Line Tel. 1800 671 811
  • Australian Childhood Immunisation Register Tel 1800 653 809
  • Your local pharmacist
  • SAEFVIC Tel. 1300 882 924 – the line is attended between 10 am and 3.30 pm and you can leave a message at all other times

Things to remember

  • Immunisation from an early age is highly recommended for all Australian children to protect them against serious childhood infections.
  • The Immunisation Schedule Victoria outlines the vaccines your child needs and the age at which each should be given.
  • Some groups are more at risk than others in the community and may need additional vaccines.
  • Remain in the clinic with your child for 15 minutes after their immunisation to be sure there are no immediate side effects.
  • Serious side effects or allergic reactions to the vaccines are rare.

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Fact sheet currently being reviewed.
Last reviewed: August 2012

Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.


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Immunisation helps to protect babies and children against serious childhood infections. Routine childhood immunisations protect against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis), polio, pneumococcal disease, meningococcal C disease, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), rotavirus, chickenpox (varicella), measles, mumps and rubella (German measles). Serious side effects or allergic reactions to the vaccines are rare.



Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your qualified health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residence and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a qualified health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

For the latest updates and more information, visit www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au

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