Childhood Immunisations In Australia

According to a study conducted in 2017, it is estimated that over four million Australians are believed to be under-vaccinated every year. Most of these are adults. Under vaccination in adults greatly contributes to the spread of diseases that would otherwise be preventable. This information highlights the importance of immunisation in childhood.

Vaccinating a child is vital to protect them against a variety of diseases while their immune system is not yet fully developed. This article provides an overview of childhood immunisations for children from birth to 19 years.

Childhood Immunisations Explained

In order to prepare a child’s immune system for the future, routine vaccinations are provided periodically throughout childhood. Vaccines such as the MMR are given to prevent serious infection of measles, mumps, and rubella. Other vaccines that are given provide immunity from diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, meningococcal, and polio.

Adult Vaccinations

Even as adults, there are times when vaccinations are required, such as the hepatitis B vaccine which may be a requirement when starting a job in certain areas. Other vaccines may be advised for pregnant women such as influenza and whooping cough. Tetanus is often required following an injury and older adults may require the pneumococcus and shingles vaccines.

Vaccinations for Travelers

Anyone who is planning to travel should be aware of the potential need to vaccinate before a trip abroad. Diseases that would otherwise be preventable can spread quickly but these instances are seldom reported on by news and media which can leave travelers unaware of potential risks when abroad.

Other countries have different vaccination schedules and some countries, both developing and developed do not have the same level of coverage of childhood vaccines as is available at home. Visiting a country with a less comprehensive vaccine schedule means you could be interacting with many people on your trip who could pass on an infection if you have not had the immunisation prior to travel.

How to Access Your Records of Immunisation

The Australian Immunisation record, known as AIR keeps a record of all administered vaccines from 2017 for those enrolled in Medicare. As long as your immunisations have been submitted by your clinic provider you can access your information through AIR.

National Register of Vaccines in Australia (AIR)

The Australian Immunisation Register keeps records (both private and those given through the school system) of all vaccinations given to Australians. These records include all immunisations from travel, school schedules, and those given under the National Immunisation Program.

If you are eligible for Medicare then you will be automatically enrolled. 

Recommendations for Vaccination

Recent years have seen a return of many early childhood diseases that are preventable through vaccination. This resurge in preventable diseases occurs for many different reasons such as a lower uptake of immunisations. In recent years in Australia, there have been occurrences of measles outbreaks even though Australia was declared measle free in the past. It is believed these outbreaks are connected to traveling.

On the advice of many medical experts and the recommendations of Travelvax Australia, travelers should make sure that their childhood vaccinations are up to date and that they should update any that are needed prior to travel, at least 6 weeks before their trip. 

Travelers are advised to check their vaccination status for tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella as well as the whooping cough vaccine, diphtheria and if necessary the flu vaccine.

Schedule of Childhood Vaccinations in Australia

In Australia, NIP (the National Immunisation Program) provides a schedule of recommended immunisations that start from birth and continue through adulthood. The schedule is designed to provide optimum protection based on age and risk by recommending vaccines at specific times and stages of life.

Why Immunisation is Essential 

Immunisation is essential in childhood to protect children from various serious diseases that are infectious and can in some cases be fatal.

Another important reason to immunise children is to stop infectious diseases from spreading. In cases such as smallpox, immunisation was successful in completely eradicating the disease.

Herd Immunity

Herd immunity is created when enough of the population has become immune to a disease. This is achieved when people are immunised with a vaccine. The spread of infectious diseases can be prevented or slowed down by immunisations. Herd immunity is important and helps to prevent those who are most susceptible to the disease from contracting it and becoming seriously ill.

The Australian National Immunisation Program

The NIP in Australia provides funding for immunisation of 13 different diseases to Australian children from birth to 4 years of age.

The schedule of immunisation is typically a series of vaccines administered on a staged basis approximately 2 to 4 times over the 4 years.

How to Get a Copy of Your Childs Immunisation Record

You can access your child’s immunisation record through Medicare online where you can print out their vaccine history or you can use the myGov and Express Plus Medicare mobile application.

Another option is to ask your GP to check if ACIR has your records.

ACIR (Australian Childhood Immunisation Records)

In 2016, ACIR became AIR and all records of vaccinations recorded on ACIR were transferred to AIR. 

AIR now accepts all records of immunisation from all ages of people in Australia.

In November 2018, the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) register also transferred all of their records to AIR.

Your GP or nurse who performs your vaccination will provide the details to AIR.