Immunization from an early age is highly recommended for all Australian children. Having your child immunised helps to protect them from the most serious childhood infections, some of which may threaten their lives.

Routine childhood immunizations help to protect your child against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis), polio, pneumococcal disease, meningococcal C disease, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), rotavirus, chickenpox (varicella), measles, mumps and rubella (German measles) and influenza.

See your doctor or local health clinic to have your child immunised.

Immunisation and young children

In the first months of life, a baby might have some protection from a specific infectious disease but only if the mother has had that infectious disease or has been immunised. This is known as passive immunity and occurs when antibodies are transferred from mother to baby during pregnancy. The level of antibody protection for the baby can be low and wears off quickly and this puts them at risk of diseases that can be prevented with vaccination.

Most childhood immunisations are given as an injection in the arm or leg, except rotavirus vaccine, which is administered by mouth. A vaccination dose may contain a vaccine against one specific disease or provide immunity for several diseases, if a number of vaccines are combined in the same injection. This helps to reduce the number of injections your child needs.

Immunisation schedule for babies and young children (may vary according to different countries)

Age Disease Vaccine brand ® Common reactions
Birth Hepatitis B H-B-VaxII Paediatric or Enerix Paediatric Mild temperature, pain at the injection site
Two months (from six weeks) Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) Infanrix hexa Mild temperature, pain at the injection site, drowsiness, irritability/crying
Pneumococcal Prevenar 13 Mild temperature, pain at the injection site
Rotavirus Rotarix Mild temperature
Four months Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) Infanrix hexa Mild temperature, pain at the injection site, drowsiness, irritability/crying
Pneumococcal Prevenar 13 Mild temperature, pain at the injection site
Rotavirus Rotarix Mild temperature
Six months Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) Infanrix hexa Mild temperature, pain at the injection site, drowsiness, irritability/crying
12 months Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) M-M-R II/Priorix About seven to 10 days after vaccination: fever (can be over 39°C), faint red non-infectious rash, drowsiness, runny nose, cough or puffy eyes, swollen salivary glands.

Very rarely a low platelet count causing bleeding and bruising

Meningococcal ACWY Nimenrix Mild temperature, loss of appetite, irritability/crying pain at the injection site
Pneumococcal Prevenar 13 Mild temperature, pain at the injection site
18 months Measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (chickenpox) (MMRV) Priorix-Tetra or ProQuad About seven to 10 days after vaccination: fever (can be over 39 °C), faint red non-infectious rash, drowsiness, runny nose, cough or puffy eyes, swollen salivary glands
About five to 26 days after vaccination: mild rash like chickenpox
Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis Infanrix or Tripacel Mild temperature, irritability/crying, drowsiness

 

Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) ActHib Mild temperature, irritability/crying, pain at the injection site

 

Four years Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio Infanrix IPV Mild temperature, irritability/crying, drowsiness
Six months of age to less than five years of age (from May 2018) Influenza Influenza vaccine Fever, feeling unwell, muscle aches, injection site pain, redness and swelling

 

Pre-immunisation checklist

Before the immunisation, you need to tell the doctor or nurse if your child:

  • is unwell (temperature over 38.5 C)
  • has had a severe reaction following any vaccine
  • has any severe allergies to any other medication or substances
  • has had any vaccine in the past month
  • has had an injection of immunoglobulin or received any blood products or a whole blood transfusion within the past year
  • was a pre-term infant born less than 32 weeks gestation, or weighing less than 2,000 g at birth
  • as a baby, has had an intussusception (a blockage caused by one portion of the bowel sliding into the next piece of bowel like the pieces of a telescope)
  • has a chronic illness
  • has a bleeding disorder
  • does not have a functioning spleen
  • lives with someone with a disease or who is having treatment that causes lower immunity – examples include leukaemia, cancer or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), oral steroid medications, radiotherapy or chemotherapy
  • has a disease which lowers immunity (such as leukaemia, cancer, HIV or AIDS) or is having treatment that causes low immunity (such as oral steroid medication, radiotherapy or chemotherapy)

Side effects after immunisation

Immunisations are effective and safe, although all medication can have unwanted side effects. Some children may experience a reaction to a vaccine. In virtually all cases, immunisation side effects are not as serious as the symptoms a child would experience if they were to contract the disease.

The mild side effects can include a mild fever and pain at the injection site. For specific information about side effects from different doses of vaccine, ask your doctor or healthcare professional.

Managing fever after immunisation

Common side effects following immunisation are usually mild and temporary (occurring one to two days after vaccination). Specific treatment is not usually required.

There are a number of treatment options that can reduce the side effects of the vaccine including:

  • giving extra fluids to drink and not overdressing if there is a fever
  • although routine use of paracetamol after vaccination is not recommended, if pain or fever is present, paracetamol can be given — check the label for the correct dose or speak with your pharmacist (especially when giving paracetamol to children).

Managing injection site reactions

Many vaccine injections may result in soreness, redness, itching, swelling or a burning feeling at the injection site for one to two days. Paracetamol and a cool compress on the site might be required to ease the discomfort.

Rare side effects of immunisation

There is a very small risk of a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to any vaccine. This is why you are advised to stay at the clinic or medical surgery for at least 15 minutes following immunisation in case further treatment is required.

If your child misses an immunisation

To fully protect your child and avoid unnecessary costs, it is best to immunise your child at the recommended age. If you have fallen behind or missed a session, the vaccine schedule can be safely continued as if there had been no delay. Ask your doctor or immunisation provider about catch-up doses of vaccine.

There is no need to repeat doses already received before having catch-up doses.

Source:  https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/healthyliving