As a parent, you’d do everything to protect your tamariki. Immunisation helps prevent many serious childhood infections.
Toi Te Ora Public Health recommends immunisation as a safe and effective way of preventing a number of serious childhood diseases such as whooping cough, pneumococcal disease and Hepatitis B. Childhood immunisation is free.
To develop good immune protection against a range of serious diseases there is a comprehensive schedule of immunisations (including boosters) that must be given over time.
The Ministry of Health and Toi Te Ora Public Health recommends that all children are fully immunised. To be fully immunised, your child should receive their free routine vaccinations at the ages of 6 weeks, 3, 5, 12 and 15 months, and 4 and 11 years. Babies are vulnerable and need to be immunised at six weeks.
Immunising your tamariki at the recommended times is the best way to protect them against serious diseases. Contact your doctor, practice nurse or Māori healthcare provider to book their immunisations.
New Zealand immunisation schedule by age
The National Immunisation Schedule includes a series of vaccines that are offered free to babies, toddlers and children. The Ministry of Health and Toi Te Ora Public Health recommends that all children are fully immunised. To be fully immunised, your child should receive their free vaccinations at the following ages:
Immunising your tamariki at the recommended times is the best way to protect them against serious diseases. Delaying your child’s immunisations can put them at greater risk of serious disease.
Protect your child from these serious diseases
Immunisation (vaccination) protects your child from some serious infectious diseases. Find out more about these conditions.
- Chicken pox
- Haemophilus Influenza Type B (HIB)
- Hepatitis B
- Pertussis (whooping cough)
- Pneumococcal disease
The Ministry of Health recommends that all children are immunised against these diseases.
Immunisation for babies at six weeks
Babies are vulnerable and need to be immunised, with the first vaccination due at six weeks of age.
Toi Te Ora Public Health recommends immunisation as a safe and effective way of preventing a number of serious childhood diseases such as whooping cough, pneumococcal disease and Hepatitis B. Childhood immunisations are free.
Immunising at six weeks means babies are protected when they are most vulnerable
Young babies are at particular risk of certain diseases because of the relative immaturity of the infant immune system. This also means diseases can be more serious in young babies.
Starting your baby's immunisation at six weeks old and then continuing to immunise on time, every time is ideal; but if your child has missed one of their vaccinations, it's never too late to catch up. Contact your local medical centre for an appointment today.
Immunisation protects against many serious childhood diseases
The diseases that babies are immunised against in the first year can and do cause serious harm both here and overseas. For example, around five out of ten babies who catch whooping cough before the age of six months require hospitalisation and 1-2 in 100 of those who are hospitalised die from whooping cough infection.
If more parents make sure their children are vaccinated, the community as a whole will be better protected. This lowers the chance of outbreaks of disease.
Even the healthiest children can catch these diseases if they are not immunised
When contact occurs for the first time, a person becomes ill while their immune system prepares a response. Healthier children do not necessarily have milder forms of the illness and so immunisation is important for all children.
A young baby’s immune system can easily cope with immunisation
Babies deal with viruses and bacteria every day and so are constantly making antibodies against these. Immunisation (including multiple vaccines) makes the most of this natural process and does not ‘overload’ the immune system.
Breastfeeding and good hygiene are great, but do not provide adequate protection against diseases
Breastfeeding can reduce the severity and frequency of chest, ear and gut infections. However, breastfeeding does not provide specific protection against diseases like whooping cough. Good hygiene will reduce the chance of some infections, but cannot provide 100 percent protection.
Where to get your baby immunised
Immunisations are FREE from your local medical centre.
Tips for your baby’s six week immunisation
Fussy clothing, fear and being in a hurry are the main problems to avoid when taking your baby for an immunisation. With a bit of forward planning, getting vaccinated needn’t be a trauma for you or your baby.
Wearing the right clothes can save you time and effort at the surgery. Choose clothes that you can remove or roll up easily. Babies under twelve months have injections in the thigh. Thin layers fastened with poppers are perfect for babies.
Give yourself enough time to get to your appointment without having to rush. Don’t put pressure on yourself to be in and out of the medical centre quickly. Ideally, allow yourself an hour. Clinics can run behind schedule, and you need time to ask the nurse questions. If you rush, you’ll be stressed. Your baby may sense that and become anxious.
It’s natural to get anxious when your baby is having a vaccination. You may worry that the doctor or nurse will hurt them. But try to stay calm and treat the procedure in a matter-of-fact way. If you're anxious, this fear may spread to your baby. The less fuss, the better.
- After the injection
Your baby may cry for a brief time. Cuddling, talking supportively and breastfeeding can help to comfort them. You will need to remain in the clinic for a further twenty minutes.
Normal immunisation reactions
A redness or tenderness where the injection was given. A cool cloth can help with this.
Your baby might get hot. Taking off some of their clothes for a time may make them more comfortable.
Your baby’s sleep patterns may change.
Your baby might be a bit grizzly or grumpy.
Your practice nurse can give you further advice on how to manage these symptoms.
Immunisation for babies and toddlers at 12 and 15 months
Immunising at 12 and 15 months of age helps to keep your child safe from many infectious diseases.
These infectious diseases can make babies and toddlers really unwell and by immunising you can help to protect them from:
- Measles - a highly infectious viral disease that can often have serious complications.
- Mumps - a highly contagious viral infection spread by droplets in the air and saliva. It is typically recognised by fever and swollen, tender salivary glands.
- Rubella - a viral disease that causes a rash and swollen glands. It may cause severe damage to unborn babies if acquired during pregnancy.
- Pneumococcal disease – this disease can cause pneumonia and invasive pneumococcal disease including bacteraemia (blood infection) and meningitis.
- Chicken pox - also known as varicella, is a highly infectious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus and is most commonly seen in children.
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) - a bacteria that can cause many illnesses including meningitis.
Immunising your baby at 12 and 15 months is really important as it helps to protect them from Measles, Mumps and Rubella. This vaccine (MMR) is very effective and after the first dose of MMR vaccine, 90-95% of babies will be protected from measles, 95-96% protected from mumps, and 90-97% protected from rubella. The second booster dose of MMR is given at 15 months of age.
Immunisations for older children
Children are offered free immunisations at around age 11, against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis), and at around age 12, against human papillomavirus (HPV). These immunisations are offered at school during years 7 and 8.
The Public Health Nurses visit participating schools in February. The children are given consent forms to bring home for their parents and caregivers to sign.
Parents need to:
- read the forms,
- fill out the forms and say whether or not they consent to the immunisations,
- sign the forms and return them to school.
If you would like to find out more you can speak to your Public Health Nurse. For the Western Bay area call (07) 577 3383, or for the Eastern Bay area call (07) 306 0944. You can also contact your family doctor or practice nurse.
It’s a good idea to discuss immunisation with your doctor. Other evidence-based sources of information are listed below.
Immunisation Advisory Centre
- Website or phone 0800 IMMUNE (466 863)
Ministry of Health
- Website - Information from the New Zealand Government on immunisation including the National Immunisation Schedule.
- Website - Various Ministry of Health immunisation education resources; suitable for different ethnic groups.
- Phone: 0800 221 555 (Toi Te Ora Public Health)