SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- Immunisation describes the process of you becoming protected against harmful diseases.
- Immunisation saves lives. It protects you, your family and your community. And it also helps protect future generations.
- Immunisation is one of the best ways you can protect your child from harmful infectious diseases.
- The other benefit of immunising your child is that you also protect those people in the community who cannot be immunised (usually because they are too young or too sick).
What is immunisation?
Why is immunisation important?
Up until the 1950s, thousands of Australian children died every year from infectious diseases such as diphtheria, smallpox, measles and polio. Immunisation programs have controlled and, in some cases, wiped out these diseases in Australia.
How do vaccines work?
work by using your body’s immune system to build protection to specific diseases before you come into contact with them. If you come into contact with a disease after you’ve been immunised, your body will remember it and respond quickly, preventing the disease from developing. This means that you are safe from many harmful diseases because you have been immunised.
Should I immunise my child?
Yes, where recommended. is one of the best ways you can protect your child from harmful infectious diseases. Some illnesses – like and – can have serious implications (even death) for children. And, if a child passes on their illness to an adult, that adult may suffer even more serious effects.
The other benefit of immunising your child is that you also protect those people in the community who cannot be immunised (usually because they are too young or too sick).
What is the National Immunisation Program (NIP) schedule?
It sets out the vaccines that your child should have and when they should have them. It also gives information on immunisation for teenagers and other at-risk groups in the community. The Victorian Government funds some extra vaccinations for people in special risk categories who need additional protection.
By following the current NIP, you protect your child from a number of infectious diseases:
Where can I get immunised?
There are many recognised , including GPs and immunisation nurses at local councils and community-based clinics. In Victoria, each local government authority runs free immunisation sessions for people eligible to be immunised under the schedule.
How much does it cost to get immunised?
All and Victorian Government supplied vaccinations are provided free of charge for eligible age groups. Sometimes your health care provider (for example, your GP) may charge a consultation fee. It is best to check when you make your appointment.
How do I know when to take my child for a vaccination?
Parents from Victoria can download the free for trusted information matched to the age of your child, at your fingertips! The app can also track your child’s growth, and remind you about upcoming maternal and child health (MCH) appointments or immunisations.
What should I do if my child misses an immunisation on the NIP schedule?
Do I need to be immunised?
Maybe. You should talk to your GP about immunisation if you are:
- A parent, grandparent or carer looking after a baby or young children
- An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
- (or planning to become pregnant)
- Planning to
- Medically at risk due to certain conditions or treatment, or come into contact with people who are
- Have a that may put you at increased risk of a harmful infectious disease
- Have a lifestyle activity that may put you at increased risk of a harmful infectious disease.
Does my teenager need extra immunisations?
Yes. The sets out immunisation requirements for teenagers aged around 12 to 13 years. The Victorian Government funds the meningococcal A,C,W,Y vaccine to teenagers around 15 to 16 years of age. These , so you don't need to remember to take them to the doctor. They are provided free of charge and administered by immunisation nurses on the secondary school premises.
The immunisations administered through the secondary school program protect your teenager from:
- Diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (one injection).
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) (usually a course of two injections a minimum of 6 months apart. An immunocompromised child will need a course of 3 doses over a 6 month period).
- Meningococcal A,C,W,Y (one injection).
Does immunisation have any side effects?
Vaccines, just like any medication, can have . But the side effects are mostly mild and usually clear up after a few days. More serious reactions to immunisation are very rare, but they can happen. If you are having serious reaction to immunisation, see a doctor immediately.
Are vaccines safe?
Yes. All vaccines used in Australia are rigorously tested by the before and after they are approved. And, even once they are being used, they continue to be constantly monitored for safety and effectiveness.
Remember, you are much safer being immunised than not being immunised. Immunisations give you the best protection from harmful infectious diseases.
What is herd immunity?
Herd immunity or community immunity is when enough people in the community are immunised that the spread of a disease slows down or stops completely. Herd immunity protects people who cannot be immunised (mostly because they are too young or too sick).
If immunisation levels fall below a certain level (which varies for each disease), herd immunity can break down and result in an outbreak of the infectious disease.
How do I get a copy of my child’s immunisation history?
A record of your child’s immunisation history is kept on the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). You can obtain a copy by using your Medicare online account through or the Or you can visit your local Medicare office.
Make sure you keep your address updated so you can receive your certificate.
You can also contact AIR by:
How do I meet the immunisation conditions linked to some family assistance payments?
To receive the Family Tax Benefit Part A supplement and Child Care Benefit, your child must:
Can my child attend childcare or kindergarten if they have not been immunised?
Under the (which was introduced in January 2016), to have an enrolment confirmed for a child in long day care, kindergarten, family day care or occasional care, parents/carers have to provide the service with:
- A current Immunisation History Statement from the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR); AND
- The statement must show that the child is up to date with all vaccinations that are due for their age, or that they are able to receive.
The Immunisation History Statement from the AIR lists the vaccines the child has received and, if applicable, which vaccines are due in the future and when. Medical exemption may also be listed, where applicable.
Where can I get more information about immunisation?
Find out more about immunisation by speaking with your health professional. The best place to start is with your GP. You can also ask your maternal and child health nurse and paediatrician.
There is also lots of information online. When looking for immunisation information, stick to reliable information providers, such as: