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Babies and toddlers

In the first years of life, a baby's immune system is not fully developed. Immunisations help give babies a better chance of fighting off infections from specific diseases during this early stage of growth.

  • Immunisations offered for free

    At birth, babies receive a free vaccine via the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for hepatitis B. Please select the disease or speak to your doctor to learn more.

    Hepatitis B

    This disease of the liver may lead to serious illness or death. Babies and young children are most at risk of long-term, chronic illness.

     Learn more

  • Immunisations offered for free

    At 2 months of age, babies receive free vaccines via the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for these diseases. Please select a disease or speak to your doctor to learn more.

    Diphtheria

    While now extremely rare in Australia thanks to immunisation, diphtheria continues to cause illness overseas. It can cause life-threatening complications.

     Learn more

    Hepatitis B

    This disease of the liver may lead to serious illness or death. Babies and young children are most at risk of long-term, chronic illness.

     Learn more

    Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)

    Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) causes a bacterial infection that can lead to serious illness, especially in young children.

     Learn more

    Pneumococcal disease

    This potentially serious bacterial infection usually affects the very young and the elderly. Others can be at risk of complications, too.

     Learn more

    Polio

    Polio is rare in Australia but is a serious disease that can lead to long-term disability, paralysis and death. With no cure, immunisation is important.

     Learn more

    Rotavirus

    In infants and young children, rotavirus disease is the most common cause of severe vomiting and diarrhoea.

     Learn more

    Tetanus

    Caused by bacteria commonly found in soil and manure, tetanus is a very serious disease. Immunisation is recommended to help protect against tetanus.

     Learn more

    Whooping cough (pertussis)

    More contagious than the flu, whooping cough affects people of all ages. It can cause serious disease in babies and complications in older adults.

     Learn more

  • Immunisations offered for free

    At 4 months of age, babies receive free vaccines via the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for these diseases. Please select a disease or speak to your doctor to learn more.

    Diphtheria

    While now extremely rare in Australia thanks to immunisation, diphtheria continues to cause illness overseas. It can cause life-threatening complications.

     Learn more

    Hepatitis B

    This disease of the liver may lead to serious illness or death. Babies and young children are most at risk of long-term, chronic illness.

     Learn more

    Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)

    Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) causes a bacterial infection that can lead to serious illness, especially in young children.

     Learn more

    Pneumococcal disease

    This potentially serious bacterial infection usually affects the very young and the elderly. Others can be at risk of complications, too.

     Learn more

    Polio

    Polio is rare in Australia but is a serious disease that can lead to long-term disability, paralysis and death. With no cure, immunisation is important.

     Learn more

    Rotavirus

    In infants and young children, rotavirus disease is the most common cause of severe vomiting and diarrhoea.

     Learn more

    Tetanus

    Caused by bacteria commonly found in soil and manure, tetanus is a very serious disease. Immunisation is recommended to help protect against tetanus.

     Learn more

    Whooping cough (pertussis)

    More contagious than the flu, whooping cough affects people of all ages. It can cause serious disease in babies and complications in older adults.

     Learn more

  • Immunisations offered for free

    At 6 months of age, babies receive free vaccines via the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for these diseases. Please select a disease or speak to your doctor to learn more.

    Diphtheria

    While now extremely rare in Australia thanks to immunisation, diphtheria continues to cause illness overseas. It can cause life-threatening complications.

     Learn more

    Hepatitis B

    This disease of the liver may lead to serious illness or death. Babies and young children are most at risk of long-term, chronic illness.

     Learn more

    Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)

    Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) causes a bacterial infection that can lead to serious illness, especially in young children.

     Learn more

    Polio

    Polio is rare in Australia but is a serious disease that can lead to long-term disability, paralysis and death. With no cure, immunisation is important.

     Learn more

    Tetanus

    Caused by bacteria commonly found in soil and manure, tetanus is a very serious disease. Immunisation is recommended to help protect against tetanus.

     Learn more

    Whooping cough (pertussis)

    More contagious than the flu, whooping cough affects people of all ages. It can cause serious disease in babies and complications in older adults.

     Learn more

    Free immunisations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and/or medically at-risk babies

    Certain groups of 6-month-olds can also receive free vaccines via the NIP for pneumococcal disease. Please select a disease or speak to your doctor to learn more.

    Pneumococcal disease

    This potentially serious bacterial infection usually affects the very young and the elderly. Others can be at risk of complications, too.

     Learn more

  • Immunisations offered for free

    At 12 months of age, babies receive free vaccines via the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for these diseases. Please select a disease or speak to your doctor to learn more.

    Measles

    Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that causes a rash and fever. It can lead to serious, sometimes fatal, complications.

     Learn more

    Meningococcal ACWY disease

    This rare infection can progress rapidly, causing serious long-term disability or death within 24 hours. Immunisation can help protect against common strains.

     Learn more

    Mumps

    This viral infection causes swelling of the salivary glands and fever. While rare in Australia, immunisation is recommended to help prevent cases from occuring.

     Learn more

    Pneumococcal disease

    This potentially serious bacterial infection usually affects the very young and the elderly. Others can be at risk of complications, too.

     Learn more

    Rubella

    Also called German measles, rubella is generally a mild infection. Yet it can have serious, lifelong consequences for unborn babies or can lead to miscarriage.

     Learn more

    Free immunisations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and/or medically at-risk babies

    Certain groups of 12-month-olds can also receive free vaccines via the NIP for hepatitis A. Please select a disease or speak to your doctor to learn more.

    Hepatitis A

    This disease of the liver is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). While the symptoms are generally mild, they can become more severe and last up to 6 months.

     Learn more

    Other immunisations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and/or medically at-risk babies

    It may also be recommended that certain groups of 12-months-olds are immunised for hepatitis B. The vaccines must be paid for out of pocket. Please select the disease or speak to your doctor to learn more.

    Hepatitis B

    This disease of the liver may lead to serious illness or death. Babies and young children are most at risk of long-term, chronic illness.

     Learn more

  • Immunisations offered for free

    At 18 months of age, babies receive free vaccines via the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for these diseases. Please select a disease or speak to your doctor to learn more.

    Chickenpox (varicella)

    With its typical red blistering and itchy rash, chickenpox is a highly contagious but generally mild infection, which can cause serious complications in some people.

     Learn more

    Diphtheria

    While now extremely rare in Australia thanks to immunisation, diphtheria continues to cause illness overseas. It can cause life-threatening complications.

     Learn more

    Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)

    Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) causes a bacterial infection that can lead to serious illness, especially in young children.

     Learn more

    Measles

    Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that causes a rash and fever. It can lead to serious, sometimes fatal, complications.

     Learn more

    Mumps

    This viral infection causes swelling of the salivary glands and fever. While rare in Australia, immunisation is recommended to help prevent cases from occuring.

     Learn more

    Rubella

    Also called German measles, rubella is generally a mild infection. Yet it can have serious, lifelong consequences for unborn babies or can lead to miscarriage.

     Learn more

    Tetanus

    Caused by bacteria commonly found in soil and manure, tetanus is a very serious disease. Immunisation is recommended to help protect against tetanus.

     Learn more

    Whooping cough (pertussis)

    More contagious than the flu, whooping cough affects people of all ages. It can cause serious disease in babies and complications in older adults.

     Learn more

    Free immunisations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and/or medically at-risk babies and toddlers

    Certain groups of 18-month-olds can also receive free vaccines via the NIP for hepatitis A. Please select a disease or speak to your doctor to learn more.

    Hepatitis A

    This disease of the liver is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). While the symptoms are generally mild, they can become more severe and last up to 6 months.

     Learn more

  • Free immunisations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and/or medically at-risk babies and toddlers

    Certain groups of babies and toddlers can also receive free vaccines via the NIP for the following disease. Please select a disease or speak to your doctor to learn more.

    Influenza (flu)

    This highly contagious viral infection can affect anyone and can lead to serious illness. A flu vaccine is recommended every year.

     Learn more

    Additional immunisations recommended for all babies and toddlers

    Babies and toddlers may also be recommended to be immunised against these diseases if they haven’t already and are old enough to be immunised. The vaccines must typically be paid for out of pocket. Please select a disease or speak to your doctor to learn more.

    Influenza (flu)

    This highly contagious viral infection can affect anyone and can lead to serious illness. A flu vaccine is recommended every year.

     Learn more

    Meningococcal ACWY disease

    This rare infection can progress rapidly, causing serious long-term disability or death within 24 hours. Immunisation can help protect against common strains.

     Learn more

    Meningococcal B disease

    This rare infection can progress rapidly, causing serious long-term disability or death within 24 hours. Immunisation can help protect against common strains.

     Learn more

The Australian National Immunisation Program (NIP) outlines a series of free immunisations given at specific times throughout your life. In addition to these vaccines, there are a number of other vaccines that are recommended by experts but need to be paid for out of pocket. Some vaccines are also provided for free through your State or Territory Health Department.

Click on the diseases below and speak to your doctor to learn more about the immunisation schedule and recommendations.

  •  Immunisation funded via the National Immunisation Program (NIP)
  •  Immunisation recommended by experts but is not funded
  •  Immunisation funded via the NIP for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and/or medically at-risk children
  •  Immunisation recommended by experts for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and/or medically at-risk children but is not funded

Many of the individual immunisations listed in the schedule below are available in combined immunisations to reduce the number of injections.

Diseases Birth 2 months 4 months 6 months 12 months 18 months 4 years 10 to <15 years 15-19 years
Chickenpox (varicella)+                  
A second dose of varicella vaccine is recommended any time between 4 years of age and less than 14 years, at least 4 weeks after the first dose. Speak to your doctor to learn more.
Diphtheria                  
 
Hepatitis A+                  
Two doses of Hepatitis A vaccine are recommended and NIP-funded for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children at 12 months and 18 months living in certain areas. A two-dose schedule (which is not funded) is also recommended for some medically at-risk children and adolescents. Speak to your doctor to learn more.
Hepatitis B+                  
An additional booster vaccine is recommended at 12 months of age for preterm infants who were born at less than 32 weeks gestation or whose birth weight was under 2000 grams. Speak to your doctor to learn more.
Haemophilus influenzae
type b (Hib)
                 
 
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)                  
 
Measles                  
 
Meningococcal ACWY disease+                  
The meningococcal ACWY vaccine is strongly recommended (but not funded) for children less than 2 years of age, adolescents (15 - 19 years), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (2 months - 19 years), and those aged at or above 2 months with certain medical conditions. A free dose is given at 12 months of age. For anyone wishing to reduce their risk of meningococcal disease the vaccine is recommended if their doctor deems it appropriate. Speak to your doctor to learn more or see who is most at risk of meningococcal disease here.
Meningococcal B disease+                  
The meningococcal B vaccine is strongly recommended (but not funded) for children less than 2 years of age, adolescents (15 - 19 years), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (2 months - 19 years), and those aged at or above 2 months with certain medical conditions. For anyone wishing to reduce their risk of meningococcal disease the vaccine is recommended if their doctor deems it appropriate. Speak to your doctor to learn more or see who is most at risk of meningococcal disease here.
Mumps                  
 
Pneumococcal disease+                  
An additional dose of pneumococcal vaccine is recommended and NIP-funded at 6 months of age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Two additional doses (at 6 months and 4 years) are recommended and NIP-funded for medically-at risk children. Further doses may be recommended and funded during adolescence depending on risk – speak to your doctor to learn more.
Polio                  
 
Rotavirus                  
 
Rubella                  
 
Tetanus                  
 
Whooping cough (pertussis)                  
 
Annual flu+      
 

 

 

 

 

 
The influenza vaccine is recommended annually for all people aged 6 months and over. Influenza vaccine is funded under the NIP for those at or above 6 months of age with certain medical conditions and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months to under 5 years and those aged at or above 15 years. Learn more about who should receive flu vaccination.
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For children and adolescents who have missed a dose(s) or have just arrived in Australia, please speak to your doctor about catch-up immunisations.

  • You may experience some side effects after immunisation. Most are mild, short-lived and clear within a few days.

    Common side effects can include:

    • a sore arm
    • fever
    • pain and redness at the injection site.

    Severe side effects like an allergic reaction are rare. If you think you are experiencing a severe reaction, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.

    Remember, vaccines help to protect against potentially serious and fatal diseases. If you have any concerns about the side effects of vaccines, please speak to your doctor.

  • In Australia, immunisation is not compulsory but not having your child fully vaccinated may affect Government benefits or enrolment in childcare or kindergarten. Immunisation is strongly recommended for two reasons:

    • it helps protect your child or yourself from potentially serious diseases
    • high rates of immunisation also help protect those who cannot be immunised (for example, those with a weakened immune system).

    Speak to your doctor for more information.

  • The NIP is a schedule of vaccines that are provided for free by the Australian government, to help protect against 17 different diseases.

    Many of the vaccines are given in early childhood and others through to adulthood. It’s recommended that you stick as closely as possible to the NIP schedule to get the most benefit from the program.

  • Vaccines generally contain dead, severely weakened forms or specific parts of the germ that causes disease. They are designed to teach your immune system to fight any future infections.

    When the vaccine enters your body – either via a needle or oral dose – your immune system gets to work and produces antibodies that are able lock onto and destroy the germ. Your immune system is then able to remember the germ and produce those antibodies to destroy it if you get infected again.

    In short, vaccines strengthen and train your immune system to help protect you against harmful diseases.

  • Vaccines are given for potentially serious and fatal diseases that were common in Australia before immunisation was available. The germs that cause these diseases are still around – yet, thanks to high rates of immunisation in the community, most of these diseases are fortunately very rare. Continuing immunisation is important to keep it that way.

    Don’t forget, in some countries, these vaccine-preventable diseases are still common and can be brought into Australia by travellers.

  • A baby’s immune system is not fully developed, making them more vulnerable to some diseases.

    Vaccines help to protect babies by preparing their immune system to be ready to attack and fight off specific infections.

  • From birth onwards, babies are naturally exposed to thousands of bacteria, viruses and antigens (which are substances that stimulate an immune response). They build up their exposure through things like playing, drinking and eating.

    Compared to this everyday exposure, immunisations contain a small amount of antigen. So rather than overwhelming the baby’s immune system, immunisations actually help strengthen it for specific diseases.

  • The antibodies in breast milk help fight off infection and provide some protection for your baby. However, they are short-lived and are not enough to help protect against all infections – which is why it’s recommended that all babies receive the vaccines on the National Immunisation Program schedule, regardless of whether they are breastfed or not.

  • Immunising your child from an early age, at the ages recommended by the National Immunisation Program can help protect them from serious childhood infections.

    Delaying an immunisation increases the amount of time your child is at risk of catching a disease. Don’t forget, for some diseases, multiple doses of the vaccine are required before your child is adequately protected. Until all the doses are given, your child may be at risk of catching the disease.

  • It's important for your child to receive all the recommended doses. With some diseases, the level of protection provided by an immunisation can decrease over time. Booster doses are recommended to help maintain immunity.

    Talk to your doctor or nurse if you’re unsure whether your child is up-to-date with their immunisation.

  • Like all medicines, vaccines are not 100% effective. Therefore, there may still be a chance that an immunised person can get the disease – although usually with less severe symptoms than if they’d had no immunisation.

    Don’t forget, the chances of exposure to a disease are reduced in communities where most people are immunised.

  • A scheduled immunisation may be delayed if your child:

    • has a high temperature (over 38.5ºC)
    • has a weakened immune system (e.g. receiving chemotherapy)
    • has another medical condition that needs to be considered.

    Speak to your doctor about your child's circumstances before postponing immunisation.

  • Immunisations for some vaccine-preventable diseases are not routinely funded on the National Immunisation Program (that is, they are not available for free). Yet they may still be recommended for overseas travel, particularly to developing countries.

    The immunisations you may need depend on where you’re going. To learn about diseases common in particular countries, you can browse our travel section. Please note that this is a guide only.

    Remember, our travel map is only a guide. It’s important to speak to your doctor or visit a travel clinic at least 6 to 8 weeks before you travel. Take along your full itinerary – including areas that might be 'off the beaten track' – so your doctor can best assess your needs.

AUS/VAC/0104/18, AUS/VAC/0055/18 Date of Approval: November 2018