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Immunisation of children

immunise; immunize; immunisation; immunization; vaccine; vaccinate; vaccination; inject; injections; Australia; AIR; register; needles;;


Immunisation is a simple and effective way of protecting children and adults against certain diseases.

  • Immunisation uses the body’s natural defence mechanism – the immune response – to build resistance to infectious diseases.
  • Young children, particularly babies, do not have the well-developed immune system that older children and adults have.  
  • It not only protects individuals who have the immunisation, but also others in our community, by increasing the level of immunity and minimising the spread of disease.

Most vaccinations need to be given several times to build long lasting protection – this is why it is important for children to complete the full recommended schedule of vaccinations at the recommended times.

  • See Vaccines (South Australian Health (SA Health)website) for more information.
  • Sometimes it is possible to ‘catch up’ if the vaccinations are not given on time. 

Not getting the full course of vaccinations can leave a child unprotected and still at risk of getting the disease.

Although many diseases are not as common as they were in the past, particularly in countries like Australia, it is still vitally important for children and adults to be vaccinated to help ensure we do not experience serious disease outbreaks.

Free flu vaccines for kids under five in South Australia

Flu vaccination 2018 - 500px

More information Flu vaccine

Meningococcal B vaccine in South Australia

On October 1, 2018, the state government funded Meningococcal B Immunisation Program commenced in South Australia.

The Meningococcal B (MenB) Immunisation Program will provide free meningococcal B vaccines to children and young people who are residents of South Australia and have a Medicare card.

Who is eligible for the Meningococcal B Immunisation Program?

  • The childhood program is offered to those aged 6 weeks to 12 months of age and commences 1 October 2018. A childhood catch-up program will be available for those from 12 months to less than 4 years of age. The childhood catch-up program will end 31 December 2019.
  • The adolescent/young person’s program will commence 1 February 2019. It is proposed that students in Years 10 and 11 will be offered vaccination during 2019 through the School Immunisation Program, with an ongoing school program to offer vaccination to Year 10 students.
  • A catch-up program will be available for those aged 17 to less than 21 years of age who are encouraged to access the vaccine from their usual immunisation provider. This catch-up program will end 31 December 2019.

For more information about whether your child is eligible for this free immunisation and how to access it, visit the SA Health website.

Childhood Schedule – South Australia – October 2018

To find out what immunisations are needed for babies, children, adolescents and adults in South Australia have a look at the National Immunisation Program Schedule for South Australia. October 2018.

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.

Vaccine side effects

 Vaccines, like any medication can have side effects.

  • Most vaccines can cause mild reactions.
  • If the reaction seems severe or persists and you are concerned, contact your doctor or immunisation provider.
  • If your child becomes obviously unwell it is probable that your 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 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 drinking or 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.

What is the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR)?

The Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) is a national register that records vaccinations given to people of all ages in Australia. When you or your child is vaccinated, your doctor or immunisation nurse enters the vaccination information onto the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).

If you have misplaced your child's vaccination details, you can contact the Immunisation Register and request a copy.

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 Subsidy.

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.

Influenza and whooping cough immunisation can be done during pregnancy. For more information have a look at

and these topics on our Pregnancy Website

More detailed information

Further information is available on the SA (South Australian) Health website:

If you want more information about immunisation, go to the 'Immunise Australia Program' website of the Commonwealth Department of Health. This site also has the Australian Immunisation Handbook, 10th Edition (2018).


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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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