Childhood immunisation is a safe, free and effective way to protect your children from serious diseases.

From the moment they’re born, most babies can fight the germs they encounter every day, but there are some serious and life-threatening diseases they are not protected from. The free vaccines available through the National Immunisation Program are a simple, safe, and effective way to protect children from these preventable diseases, such as measles and whooping cough

Childhood immunisation schedule

The National Immunisation Program outlines the recommended vaccines for your child from birth to age 4.

The timing of each dose of every vaccine in the childhood immunisation schedule is carefully planned to safely protect babies and children from as young as possible and when they need it most.

Vaccinate on time 

It is important to vaccinate on time to give your child the best protection against harmful diseases. Follow the National Immunisation Program and set a reminder to book your child’s next appointment.

Delaying or spacing out vaccines means children are unprotected for longer than need be, at an age when disease is most common or most serious.

It’s easy to catch up on missed vaccinations. There is no need to repeat the doses already received and there is no need to get extra doses.

Find out when immunisations are due.

Getting vaccinated

Babies and young children can get their vaccinations from the following vaccination providers:

  • local general practices
  • community health or local council clinics in some areas
  • Aboriginal community health services.

It is a good idea to check your child’s Immunisation History Statement before you book an appointment.

How vaccines are given

Most childhood immunisations are given as an injection in the arm or leg, except the rotavirus vaccine that is drops in the mouth.

A vaccine may protect against one specific disease, or several diseases using a combination vaccine which helps reduce the number of injections your child needs.

Why do children need so many vaccines?

Children get vaccines to protect them as soon as possible as they are at greatest risk from disease while they are very young. Vaccinating in early stages of life is vital because it protects babies while their immune system is still developing.

Babies are perfectly capable of tolerating vaccines, just like they handle the thousands of bacteria and viruses they encounter in their environment since the moment of birth.

How do vaccines work?

Vaccines protect us by using our body’s natural defences to build resistance to specific infections before we come into contact with them.

When a child gets a vaccine, their body produces an immune response in the same way it would after exposure to a disease. If the child comes in contact with that disease in the future, their immune system remembers it and responds quickly, preventing the disease from developing.

Vaccines are safe

All vaccines go through rigorous testing to ensure they are safe and effective before approval in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). This includes various stages of clinical trials and testing of ingredients. Vaccines that don’t meet quality and safety criteria do not get approval and are not available for use.

Vaccines are like other medicines and can have side effects. However, all vaccines used in Australia provide benefits that greatly outweigh their risks.

Once in use, vaccine monitoring continues for safety. Reports on adverse events or reactions are collected and investigated if there is a suspected problem.

For more information, including answers to common questions and how to check if your child’s vaccinations are up to date, visit

You can also talk to your doctor or immunisation nurse.

*content provided by the Australian Federal Government Department of Health & Aged Care

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