What is immunisation?
Immunisation is a simple and safe way to protect you and your children from serious diseases. It also helps to protect the broader community by reducing the spread of disease.
When your child is immunised against a disease, it means they’re much less likely to catch that disease in the future.
When your child gets a vaccine, their immune system is exposed to a weakened form of a virus. Their immune system responds by developing antibodies to fight the virus. These antibodies can then step into action to quickly fight the virus if your child comes into contact with it in the future. To learn more, read how immunisation works at the Department of Health.
The recommended immunisations for children under four in Australia protect against dangerous childhood diseases, including:
- Whooping cough
- Influenza (flu)
- German measles
See the full list here for all age groups, from birth to 19.
Why get your child immunised?
As well as protecting yourself and your children from potentially life-threatening diseases, you’re also protecting the wider community. In some cases, a robust immunisation program can eradicate diseases. For example, smallpox was eradicated in 1980 after a campaign led by the World Health Organisation.
Access to Australian Government benefits
When your child is immunised, you’re more likely to be able to access Government benefits and early childhood services.
You child needs to be up to date with the immunisation schedule to be eligible for the following government benefits:
- Family Tax Benefit Part A
- Child Care Subsidy
If they’re not up to date, they need to have a medical exemption. You can read more about the immunisation requirements for receiving Government payments at the Department of Human Services.
Access to early childhood services
To enrol in early childhood services in some states and territories, your child may need to meet certain immunisation requirements. You’ll need to contact your state or territory health service to find out more.
What immunisations does your child need?
It’s important to make sure your child gets certain vaccines at different stages of their development.
The Department of Health outlines the immunisations your child needs from birth to 19 years. Some of these vaccines are free through the National Immunisation Program or state and territory programs.
You can access vaccines through your doctor, immunisation clinics, in schools (with parental consent), local councils, child health nurses and some hospitals. Keep in mind that if your doctor provides the vaccine, you may need to pay a consultation fee if they don’t bulk bill.
If you’re not sure if your child is well enough to get a vaccine, it’s best to speak with your doctor.
How to record your child’s immunisations
It’s best to ask your doctor or vaccination provider to update your child’s immunisation record on the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). The AIR is a national register that records all vaccines given to people in Australia. You can also use the AIR to get your child’s immunisation history statement.
Where to get more information
All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified health care professional.