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Immunisation is a simple, safe and effective way of protecting your child and yourself against some diseases which can cause serious illnesses and sometimes death.


Also if your child is protected, he or she will not be able to pass the infection on to other people, especially very young babies who are not yet fully immunised.

Different states in Australia may have slightly different schedules as different vaccines may be used.

  • In South Australia, the schedule used is available on the SA Health Immunsation site (SAICU)
  • For information about the schedule for other states of Australia have a look at the National Immunisation Program Schedule 

Why immunise?

As stated above immunisation is a simple, safe and effective way of protecting your child and yourself against some diseases which can cause serious illnesses and sometimes death.

The Australian Academy of Science has released a publication that provides in depth information about immunisation called 'The Science of Immunisation: questions and answers' (November 2012).

This publication aims to address confusion created by contradictory information in the public domain. It sets out to explain the current situation in immunisation science, including where there is consensus in the scientific community and where uncertainties exist.

The Immunise Australia program has released a publication for providers addressing myths and realities which provides more informaiton if parents have more worries about the safety of immunisation. It is probably best to discuss the information in this publication with your doctor as it is not written specifically for parents.

What immunisations are recommended?

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) recommends that Australian infants and children are immunised free of charge against the following diseases;

    • Diphtheria
    • Tetanus
    • Whooping cough
    • Poliomyelitis
    • Measles
    • Mumps
    • Rubella
    • Haemophilus influenza type b
    • Chicken pox
    • Hepatitis B
    • Meningococcal C,
    • Pneumococcal infections
    • Rotavirus (for babies under 6 months old).

The Human papilloma virus vaccine is available free of charge to girls in high school.

  • It is recommended that some older children and some adults are also immunised against meningococcal C, pneumococcal infections, hepatitis A and influenza. While all Australians can be immunised against these diseases, the vaccines are only free for some high-risk groups.
  • Several other vaccines, such as cholera are available to any person if needed (there will be a cost for these vaccines).

There are topics on this site about each of the illnesses that immunisation helps to prevent. See Related topics on the side bar of this topic.

Where can I have my child immunised?

Immunisations can be provided by your doctor, immunisation clinics, local councils, community child health nurses and by some hospitals.

Immunisation information for Australians

 The Immunise Australia Program Internet site has information about the recommended immunisations, as well as the Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th Edition (2013)

Immunisation calculator

The Immunisation Calculator uses the Australian Standard Vaccination Schedule. It recommends doses of vaccine to be given at specific ages. If doses of vaccine are delayed or missed, the calculator will assist in providing a 'catch-up' schedule for future vaccine doses. Click on the image to go to the calculator.

Note: it does not deal with high-risk children. Talk to your doctor if you need more information about your child.

Reactions to immunisation

  • After immunisations, some children may have a reaction. Most reactions, such as feeling unwell, being irritable, fever, and soreness around the injection area occur within 48 hours of having the immunisation. They are usually mild and do not last very long.
  • If the child becomes obviously unwell it is probable that the child has a different health problem (eg a cold or other viral infection), and it may be wise to have the child checked by a doctor.
  • Reactions to the MMR vaccine
    • A reaction to the MMR vaccine may occur 5-12 days after the immunisation and may cause a mild fever, faint rash, head cold, runny nose, cough and/or puffy eyes due to the measles part of the vaccine.
    • Swelling of the glands in the neck may happen about 3 weeks after the injection due to the mumps part of the vaccine.
    • These reactions do not make the child infectious.
  • Reactions do not usually last for more than 48 hours, and the following may help to relieve symptoms.
    • Place a cold cloth on the injection site if it is red or swollen (do not place ice directly onto the skin).
    • If the child has a fever or seems in pain, some paracetamol or ibuprofen may help.
    • If the child is not eating as much as usual, offer some extra drinks (breast milk, formula or water).
    • Many children need extra cuddling and comforting for a day or so.

Important Note
If your child has severe reactions to immunisation, or the reactions last for more than a couple of days, or if you are worried about it - see your doctor, or in South Australia only, call the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (cost of a local call).

What is the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR)?

From 1 January 1996, the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (the Immunisation Register) began recording details of vaccinations given to children under the age of seven who live in Australia.

It provides you and health professionals with many benefits such as:

  • an immunisation history statement
  • documents to help with eligibility for some family payments
  • the option of getting a copy of your child's immunisation details at any time
  • the ability to track immunisation levels in Australia to assist health professionals monitor disease outbreaks.

For more information about the Immunisation Register

  • Call the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register: 1800 653 809
  • Email: acir@medicareaustralia.gov.au  
  • Access your child's immunisation history statement online via the Online Services page at https://www1.medicareaustralia.gov.au/ssl/acircirgcert
  • If you need interpreting help call: TIS: 131 450 (Translating and Interpreting Service)
  • TTY: 1800 552 152 (hearing impaired)
  • Call the Department of Health & Ageing’s immunisation infoline: 1800 671 811.

How do I enrol my child on the Immunisation Register ?

  • Children under seven years of age enrolled in Medicare are automatically included on the Immunisation Register.
  • Children who are not eligible to enrol in Medicare can be added when a doctor or immunisation provider sends the details of vaccinations to the Immunisation Register.

How is information recorded on the Immunisation Register?

  • Information about your child's vaccinations should be sent as soon as possible by the doctor or immunisation provider to ensure the Immunisation Register is up-to-date.

How will the Immunisation Register help me keep track of my child's vaccinations?

  • An immunisation history statement will be sent to you when your child turns one, two and five years of age, or upon request. Information about your child's immunisation details recorded on the Immunisation Register and any immunisations that are missing for your child will be included on the statement.
  • An immunisation history statement can be requested by calling the Immunisation Register on 1800 653 809 (free call) or by visiting the Medicare Australia Immunisation Register site 
  • An immunisation history statement will be sent to the most recent address recorded on the Immunisation Register. To ensure you receive your child's statement, it is important to notify Medicare and your immunisation provider if you change your address.

Can my doctor or immunisation provider get a record of my child's immunisation history?

  • Your doctor or immunisation provider can get information about your child's vaccinations. This may be useful if your child has not been to that doctor or immunisation provider before, as they will then be able to decide what vaccinations are due.

Immunisation and family payments

  • Your child has to be up-to-date with immunisations, or have an exemption, so that your family can receive payments such as the Child Care Benefit .

Immunisation information

If you want more information about Immunisation go to the 'Immunise Australia Program' website that has been developed by the Public Health Division of the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aging (Australia). There you will find information about:

  • what immunisation is
  • details about the immunisations and the diseases they prevent
  • common misconceptions about immunisation
  • common side effects of immunisation and what to do about them
  • what to tell the doctor or nurse when taking your child for an immunisation
  • immunisation and your eligibility for some government benefits.


Immunisation before, during and after pregnancy

Some immunisations, including rubella immunisation, help protect an unborn baby if the mother has the immunisations before she becomes pregnant. For more information have a look at the topic Immunisation and pregnancy.

Commonly asked questions

  • Some parents are concerned about possible harm that might be caused to their child by immunisations and possible alternatives to immunisation.
  • Immunise Australia has on its internet site informaiton which may be of use if you have concerns.

Information in languages other than English

Immunise Australia Publications and Resources

Fact Sheets (in many languages), Victorian Government:


Australian Immunisation Handbook - 10th Edition, 2013:

Immunisation Unit, Department of Health (SA):

Fact Sheets (in many languages), Victorian Government:

MacIntyre CR, Leask J 'Immunization myths and realities: responding to arguments against immunisation' Journal Paediatrics and Child Health (2003) 39, 487-491

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).

This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.

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