Where to get 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.
While vaccines are free, your vaccination provider may charge a consultation fee for the visit. Check when booking an appointment.
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.
It is safe to give babies and children several vaccines at a single visit. Combination vaccines reduce the number of vaccines needed. Their immune systems are very strong and can handle multiple vaccines.
Vaccines will strengthen your baby’s immunity to protect them from diseases when they are most at risk.
Read more about multiple vaccinations.
At the appointment
Prepare any questions you may have for your health professional and bring your baby’s health record book (given at birth) to your appointment.
Babies can usually get their vaccinations even if they are feeling a little unwell, such as a runny nose or slight cold. Children with high fever (38.5 °C or more) or a more serious illness, should wait until they are well to get vaccinated.
During your visit your health professional may perform a general health check and ask questions to make sure there are no concerns vaccinating your child. You should let them know if your child:
- has a fever of more than 38.5 °C on the day
- has allergies or has reacted badly to a vaccine in the past
- has a disease that lowers immunity or is having medical treatment that lowers immunity such as chemotherapy
- has had any vaccine in the past month
- has an autoimmune disease or chronic condition
- was a premature birth.
After the vaccinations, the doctor or nurse will ask you to stay at the clinic for about 15 minutes after the vaccinations. This is so they can make sure everything is OK before you and your baby leave. Your doctor or nurse knows what to do to help a baby recover quickly if they react unexpectedly.
The Sharing Knowledge about Immunisation website has more information about each of the scheduled vaccination points and how you can help your child.
Your child may experience mild side effects following vaccination. Most side effects last no more than a couple of days and are part of the immune system’s natural response to the vaccine
Common reactions include:
- pain, swelling and redness where the needle went in
- a small, hard bump where the needle went in (may take a few weeks to disappear)
- grizzly, unsettled, unhappy and sleepy
- mild fever.
Your child might need some extra comforting if side effects occur. Manage a mild reaction with simple steps, such as:
- breastfeeding, giving extra fluids to drink
- removing layers of clothing
- applying a cool compress on the injection site
- giving paracetamol.
If you’re worried about their reaction, talk to your doctor or health clinic staff.
In general, most children who have had a reacted to a vaccination can be safely re-vaccinated. Speak to your doctor for further advice. They may refer you to Immunisation Specialist Services for more testing or precautions before receiving further vaccines.
Serious vaccine reactions are rare. There is a very small risk of a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to any vaccine. This is why you stay at the clinic or medical surgery for at least 15 minutes after immunisation in case your child requires further treatment. Your doctor or nurse knows what to do to help a baby having an anaphylactic reaction recover quickly.
If your child reacts in a way you think is severe or unexpected, seek medical advice straight away.
People are more likely to experience serious complications from a disease, than from the vaccine for that disease.
Your vaccination provider will record your child’s vaccination history in their Personal Health Record booklet given at birth.
Your vaccination provider will also record their vaccinations on the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). The AIR records all National Immunisation Program vaccines, and most privately purchased vaccines, given to people of all ages.
You can get your child’s Immunisation History Statement from the AIR by:
- going to mygov.au and signing in to access your Medicare online account, or using the Express Plus Medicare mobile app
- calling Services Australia on 1800 653 809 to request a copy
- asking your vaccination provider to print a copy for you.
Starting childcare or school
To enrol in childcare or school you may need to provide an Immunisation History Statement showing your child is up-to-date with required vaccinations.
Visit your state and territory health website for more information.
Children vaccinated overseas
If your child received a vaccine overseas, you can have them added to the AIR. You must take their immunisation records in English to a vaccination provider in Australia so they can:
- check their immunisation against the National Immunisation Program Schedule
- organise a catch-up program for missing vaccinations
- add any overseas vaccines to the Australian Immunisation Register.
If your documents aren’t in English, you can get them translated. Read about the Free Translating Service on the Department of Home Affairs website. You can use this service if you’re settling in Australia or if you’re already living here permanently.