Summary

  • Certain immunisations are recommended for all Australian secondary school students.
  • You can receive immunisations from your doctor, local health clinic or local council.
  • Side effects to vaccinations are usually mild, occur soon after the injection and last for only a short time.
     

Every day, immunisation saves lives and makes it possible for Victorians to live free from the illness and the disability caused by many infectious diseases. Immunisation not only protects those people who have been immunised, but it also protects those in the community who may be unable to receive immunisation themselves, by reducing the spread of disease.

Many vaccines are routinely provided free of charge to Australian secondary school students under the National Immunisation Program. Immunisation is most commonly given to students through council visits to secondary schools. Parents must return a card to the school providing or refusing their consent.

 

Immunisation for secondary school students is important

Immunisation is a proven and safe way to be protected against diseases that cause serious illness and sometimes death.
The protection provided by some childhood immunisations fades over time and needs to be boosted in adolescence. Secondary school students are at an age when a vaccine will be most effective and provide protection before possible exposure to a disease.

Parental consent for immunisation

In Victoria, a consent booklet is provided by councils to schools. Students are required to take the booklet home and have it completed and signed by their parent or guardian. The completed consent booklet must be returned to the school before the student can receive immunisation.

The consent booklet contains information about the vaccines, the diseases protected against and possible side effects.

Parents can decline the offer of free school-based immunisation for children in their care under the age of 18, however, the consent booklet should still be returned (marked as 'declined') so authorities can collect data on immunisation coverage.

Immunisation nurses provide the vaccines

Local councils work with secondary schools to arrange for immunisation nurses to be at the school on a particular day. Nurses inject the vaccines using a fine needle, usually to the upper part of your non-writing arm.

On the day that students are receiving immunisation, they should eat a good breakfast and wear clothes that provide easy access to their upper arm.
Students can watch 'The jab' video to see how other students feel about getting immunised.

Victorian Immunisation Schedule for secondary school students

The following vaccines are routinely provided free of charge to all Victorian secondary school students under the National Immunisation Program.

Available at secondary school Available at community health setting (GP or council session) Vaccine type Vaccine doses Possible mild reactions and treatment
Year 7 12–13 years of age Chickenpox (varicella) Single dose High fever (over 39 ˚C) – take paracetamol as directed, drink extra fluids, don’t overdress

Soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site – press a cold, wet cloth against the injection site

Mild chickenpox-like rash at the injection site (5–26 days after immunisation) – no treatment required
Year 7 12–13 years of age Human papillomavirus (HPV) Course of three vaccines, given over six months Mild temperature, mild headache, feeling unwell – take paracetamol as directed, drink extra fluids, don’t overdress

Soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site - press a cold, wet cloth against the injection site
Years 7 12–13 years of age Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (combined vaccine) Single dose Mild temperature, feeling unwell – take paracetamol as directed, drink extra fluids, don’t overdress

Soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site - press a cold, wet cloth against the injection site

Reactions to immunisation

Some people may experience a reaction to a vaccine. There is a very small risk of a serious allergic reaction to any vaccine. This is why it is important to stay at the school or clinic where the immunisation was given for 15 minutes after being immunised.

If reactions do occur, they are usually mild and occur shortly after immunisation. Possible reactions to specific vaccines and how they can be treated are listed in the table above. Reactions may last up to two days. If you are concerned about any reaction to the vaccine, contact your council, doctor or hospital.

Concerns about immunisation side effects

If an adverse event following immunisation is unexpected, persistent or severe, or if you are worried about yourself or your child's condition after immunisation, see your doctor or immunisation nurse as soon as possible, or go directly to a hospital. 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 immunisation.

Adverse events that occur following immunisation may be reported to the Victorian Surveillance of Adverse Events Following Vaccination In the Community (SAEFVIC) Line. SAEFVIC is the central reporting service in Victoria for any significant adverse events following immunisations. You can discuss with your immunisation provider how to report adverse events in other states or territories.

 

When a vaccine at school is missed

If a school-based immunisation is missed for any reason, secondary school students of the appropriate age can visit their local council immunisation service or a doctor to receive the missed vaccine.

This should be done as soon as possible to be eligible to receive the vaccine for free. If the missed dose is part of a course of vaccines and is given soon after the missed school session, the rest of the course can often be finished as part of the school-based program.

Some vaccines may need to be ordered in advance, so let your doctor know which immunisation you are wanting when you arrange the appointment. Although the vaccines themselves are free, your doctor may charge a consultation fee. Immunisation will only be free for the ages listed in the immunisation schedule.

When students don't attend a mainstream secondary school

Teenagers who do not attend mainstream schools are also encouraged to receive these immunisations. To receive them for free, it is important that they attend the doctor at the correct age.

Other available immunisations

Other immunisations are available for students depending on their health, age, lifestyle or occupation (HALO). Doctors can provide advice on catching up on any early childhood immunisations that may have been missed, or any additional immunisations that may be required.

You can check your immunisation HALO using the Immunisation for Life infographic.

 

Where to get help

  • Your doctor
  • Your local community health centre
  • Your local council
  • NURSE-ON-CALL Tel. 1300 60 60 24 – for expert health information and advice (24 hours, 7 days)
  • Immunisation Section, Department of Health and Human Services Tel. 1300 882 008
  • Travel clinic
  • National Immunisation Information Line Tel. 1800 671 811
  • SAEFVIC Tel. 1300 882 924 – the line is attended between 9 am and 4 pm and you can leave a message at all other times

Things to remember

  • Certain immunisations are recommended for all Australian secondary school students.
  • Immunisation is usually given to secondary school students through council visits to secondary schools. 
  • Parents must return a card to the school providing or refusing their consent.
  • If you miss the immunisation day at school, you can also be immunised at your doctor, local health clinic or local council immunisation service.
  • Side effects to vaccinations are usually mild, occur soon after the injection and last for only a short time.


References
  • Immunise Australia Program, Department of Health and Ageing, Australian Government. More information here.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination program, Immunise Australia Program, Department of Health and Ageing, Australian Government. More information here.
  • Immunisation, Teen Health Ages 12–17, Women's and Children's Health Network, Government of South Australia. More information here.

More information

Immunisation

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Immunisation basics

Timing and schedules

Immunisation throughout life

A-Z of immunisations and vaccines

Content Partner

This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by: Department of Health and Human Services - RHP&R - Health Protection - Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Unit

Last updated: April 2016

Page content currently being reviewed.

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.