Date published: 
1 July 2017
Media type: 
Media release
General public

The Turnbull Government is expanding the National Immunisation Program (NIP) to keep more Australians healthy and protect them against vaccine preventable diseases.

From today, the NIP will be expanded to provide free catch-up vaccines for all Australian children and young people up to the age of 19 years and, for the first time, refugees and humanitarian entrants of any age.

This important Turnbull Government initiative will save lives.

Immunisation is a simple, safe and highly effective way to protect children and adults from preventable diseases like measles, mumps, meningococcal, polio, whooping cough, chickenpox and Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

Maintaining high levels of immunisation throughout the Australian population for ‘herd immunity’ is critically important and can protect those too young or too sick to be vaccinated.

Some young people have missed out on early childhood vaccines because of a parent’s or carer’s attitudes towards immunisation, or because they arrived in Australia as teenagers or adults.

The expansion of the program will allow these groups to access free catch-up vaccines equivalent to those received in early childhood.

There are currently more than 467,000 Australians aged between 10 and 19 years who are not fully immunised and who may benefit from this important initiative.

We also know that the vast majority of people who come to Australia as refugees or humanitarian entrants are more likely to have missed out on critical childhood vaccines, placing them and their communities at increased risk of contracting vaccine preventable diseases.

More than 11,000 refugee and humanitarian entrants will be able to receive the free catch-up on early childhood vaccines.

Vaccines have all but eliminated many of the crippling and deadly diseases that affected previous generations, but we should never take our immunity for granted.

I encourage all Australians to talk to their doctor about immunisation to ensure they are fully protected.