Childhood Vaccination - Frequently Asked Questions

Childhood Vaccination - Frequently Asked Questions

Adult and Child Immunisation Schedule

Where do I get my child's vaccination history?

You can:

  • use your child's Personal Health Record as proof of immunisation (if, for each vaccine administered, the doctor or council staff member has clearly signed and printed their name)
  • ask your doctor or local council for signed information on letterhead saying exactly which diseases your child has been immunised against and when it happened
  • use the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR) statement provided to you when your child turns five years of age.
  • contact the ACIR on freecall 1800 653 809, they may have information if your child was immunised after January 1996.

Is homeopathic 'immunisation' recognised?

No. Homeopathic 'immunisation' has not been shown to work as an alternative to conventional immunisation in preventing serious illness. Only conventional immunisation has been proven to provide enough protection against these diseases.

Why should children be immunised?

There are two reasons for immunising every child in Australia:

  1. Immunisation is the safest and most effective way of giving protection against the disease. After immunisation, your child is far less likely to catch the disease if there are cases in the community. The benefit of protection against the disease far outweighs the very small risks of immunisation. If your child is immunised and gets the disease, they will not be as sick as they would have been had they not been vaccinated.
  2. If enough people in the community are immunised, the infection can no longer be spread from person to person and the disease dies out altogether. This is how smallpox was eliminated from the world and polio has disappeared from many countries. However, if we do not continue to maintain good immunisation rates, these previously eliminated diseases may return.

Why do children get so many immunisations?

A number of immunisations are required in the first few years of a child's life to protect the child against the most serious infections of childhood. The immune system in young children does not work as well as the immune system in older children and adults, because it is still immature. Therefore more doses of vaccine are needed.

In the first months of life, a baby is protected from many infectious diseases by antibodies from her or his mother, which are transferred to the baby during pregnancy. When these antibodies wear off, the baby is at risk of serious infections and so the first immunisations are given before these antibodies have gone.

Another reason why children get many immunisations is that new vaccines against serious infections continue to be developed. The number of injections is reduced by the use of combination vaccines, where several vaccines are combined into one shot.

Are there any reasons to delay immunisation?

There are very few medical reasons to delay immunisation. If a child is sick with a high temperature (over 38.5ºC) then immunisation should be postponed until the child is recovering. A child who has a runny nose, but is not ill can be immunised, as can a child who is on antibiotics and obviously recovering from an illness.

What are the side-effects of immunisation?

Some children experience minor side effects following immunisation. Most side effects last a short time and the child recovers without any problems. Common side-effects of immunisation are redness, soreness and swelling at the site of an injection, mild fever and being grizzly or unsettled. You should give extra fluids to drink, not overdress the baby if hot and consider using paracetamol to help ease the fever and soreness.

Serious reactions to immunisation are very rare, however, if they do occur consult your doctor immediately. It is important to remember that vaccines are many times safer than the diseases they prevent.

September 2016