NSM guide: When to immunise your children, plus the diseases vaccines prevent

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Here is a comprehensive list of all the vaccines your child will need to receive and when, plus a short list of other vaccines that might be of help to those who are considered at-risk. And just so you know what disease your child is being immunised against, also included is a list of diseases, what they are and how they are contracted. It’s your go-to spot for child immunisation!

Childhood and adolescent vaccines

WHEN DISEASE VACCINE COST
Birth Hepatitis B H-B-VAX II Free through council-run immunisation clinics and GPs (you may still need to pay for your GP visit)
2 months Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), Hepatitis B, Polio INFANRIX & HEXA Free through council-run immunisation clinics and GPs (you may still need to pay for your GP visit)
Pneumococcal PREVENAR 13 Free through council-run immunisation clinics and GPs (you may still need to pay for your GP visit)
Rotavirus ROTARIX Free through council-run immunisation clinics and GPs (you may still need to pay for your GP visit)
4 months Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), Hepatitis B, Polio INFANRIX & HEXA Free through council-run immunisation clinics and GPs (you may still need to pay for your GP visit)
Pneumococcal PREVENAR 13 Free through council-run immunisation clinics and GPs (you may still need to pay for your GP visit)
Rotavirus ROTARIX Free through council-run immunisation clinics and GPs (you may still need to pay for your GP visit)
6 months Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), Hepatitis B, Polio INFANRIX & HEXA Free through council-run immunisation clinics and GPs (you may still need to pay for your GP visit)
Pneumococcal PREVENAR 13 Free through council-run immunisation clinics and GPs (you may still need to pay for your GP visit)
12 months Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), Meningococcal C MENITORIX Free through council-run immunisation clinics and GPs (you may still need to pay for your GP visit)
Measles, Mumps, Rubella MMR Free through council-run immunisation clinics and GPs (you may still need to pay for your GP visit)
18 months Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Varicella PRIORIX-TETRA Free through council-run immunisation clinics and GPs (you may still need to pay for your GP visit)
4 years (or as early as 31/2 years) Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, PolioMeasles, Mumps, Rubella(if child has not had 2 doses of measles-mumps-rubella containing vaccine) INFANRIX-IPV, MMR Free through council-run immunisation clinics and GPs (you may still need to pay for your GP visit)
Year 7 Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (whooping cough) BOOSTRIX Free when provided at school
Human Papillomavirus GARDASIL Free three-course dose when provided at school for students in Year 7
Varicella (chickenpox) VARICELLA Free when provided at school (catch-up only)
Year 11 & 12 Measles, Mumps, Rubella MMR Free when provided at school

Vaccines for at-risk groups

WHEN DISEASE WHO SHOULD HAVE IT? VACCINE COST
6 months and over Influenza Those with medical conditions predisposing to severe influenza, namely: cardiac disease, chronic respiratory conditions (including severe asthma), and other chronic illnesses requiring regular medical follow up or hospitalisation in the previous year (including diabetes mellitus, chronic metabolic diseases, chronic renal failure, and haemoglobinopathies), chronic neurological conditions that impact on respiratory function, impaired immunity, (including HIV, malignancy and chronic steroid use), and children on long-term aspirin therapy. Recommended for all others who mix with those at-risk and those who wish to maintain their health. INFLUENZA Free for all aged 65 years and over, all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged six months to five years and aged 15 years and over, pregnant women, and those in at-risk categories mentioned in ‘who should have it?’. For others: at own cost through GP. Sometimes included free by employers.
2 months and over Meningococcal A single dose of MenCCV is recommended for all children at 12 months. Children aged 12 months and adolescents who missed receiving a dose of MenCCV previously should receive a catch-up dose. Additional doses are recommended for those with complement disorders, asplenia
and other immunocompromising conditions. Those two months and older can have 4CMenB if they have increased risk of invasive meningococcal disease because of age, medical conditions or occupational exposure.
MenCCV is effective but provides protection against serogroup C disease only.4CMenB was registered in Australia in August 2013. It’s the first vaccine to offer protection against multiple strains of serogroup B. MenCCV is free through the National Immunisation Program as the combination Hib–MenC vaccine. 4CMenb is at own cost through GP.
Over 2 years Pneumococcal Children 2-15 years who are prone to lung infections and pneumonia. Plus anyone over two who has a decreased immune system due to sickle cell disease, HIV or another long-term disease. It gives
protection against pneumococcal 
germs or bacteria can cause serious diseases such as:
• meningitis, an infection of the brain and/or spinal cord
• pneumonia, an infection of the lungs
• a severe infection of the middle ear
• a severe infection in the blood
PNEUMOVAX 23 Free for Aboriginals 15-49 years with medical risk factors, and all aboriginals over 65 years. For others: at own cost through GP. For others: at own cost through GP.
Over 10 years Human Papillomavirus The vaccine (three doses) is recommended for use from 10 years of age. GARDASIL At own cost through GP unless child is in Year 7, when it is provided free at school.

What is that disease and can do you get it?

This list was put together with information from NSW Government Health, Better Health Channel and the National Centre for Immunisation, Research and Surveillance (NCIRS).

In alphabetical order…

Diphtheria
This is a contagious and potentially life-threatening bacterial infection that causes severe breathing difficulties, heart failure and nerve damage.

Diphtheria bacteria can live in the mouth, nose, throat or skin on infected individuals. You can get diphtheria by breathing in the bacteria after an infected person has coughed or sneezed. You can also get diphtheria from close contact with discharges from an infected person’s mouth, nose, throat or skin.

Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
This is a bacterium that causes a range of clinical syndromes such as meningitis, pneumonia and epiglottitis, particularly among young children.

The organism is mostly carried in the upper part of the throat without causing symptoms in healthy individuals. Many children will come into contact with Hib at some time in the first two years of life, mostly by being around asymptomatic children or adults who are carriers. It enters the body through the upper respiratory tract via droplets, after direct contact, and once entering the bloodstream or the lungs it causes serious disease. The incubation period of the disease is short, about 2-4 days.

Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B virus is one of several viruses that can infect the liver. Although many people with hepatitis B have no symptoms, the virus can live in the liver tissue and cause severe scarring and liver damage and this can have long-lasting effects on a person’s health.

The hepatitis B virus is spread by body fluids (blood, semen, saliva or vaginal fluid) of an infected person when the virus enters the blood stream of another person, such as during sex or drug use.

Hepatitis B is detected by a blood test. This can show if a person has current infection or has had hepatitis B in the past but is no longer infectious. It can also show whether someone is immune following vaccination.

Human papillomavirus (HPV)
This is the name given to a group of viruses that affect both females and males. Most people who are sexually active will have a genital HPV infection at some time in their lives. While the body usually clears the infection naturally and there are no symptoms, the virus persists in a minority of infections. Almost all cases of cervical cancer and genital warts are due to HPV infection. HPV also causes cancers in other parts of the body, including the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and the mouth and throat.

HPV is transmitted during sex and genital skin-to-skin contact with a person who has the virus. The virus passes through tiny breaks in the skin. HPV is not spread through blood or other body fluid.

Condoms offer limited protection, as they do not cover all of the genital skin.

Measles
Measles is a contagious viral illness that causes a skin rash and fever. Serious and sometimes fatal complications include pneumonia and brain inflammation. Worldwide, measles is the fifth highest cause of illness and death in children.

Measles outbreaks occur in some communities mainly as a result of unvaccinated travellers and visitors importing the disease from overseas. It is therefore important to ensure you are adequately protected and the following should be considered.

  • Most people born before 1966 will have been exposed to wild measles virus and therefore do not require vaccination.
  • People born after 1966 require two doses of MMR vaccine (at least one month apart).

Measles is most commonly spread when someone swallows or inhales the cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person. The measles viruses are carried inside mucus or saliva droplets and remain alive for several hours. Infection can also occur if someone touches contaminated surfaces or objects and then touches their own mouth or nose or eats before washing their hands. Symptoms usually occur about 10 to 12 days after infection.

Mumps
Mumps is a viral illness that causes fever and swollen salivary glands. Symptoms of mumps may include fever, headache, fatigue, weight loss, a swollen face (one or both sides), painful chewing and painful swallowing. Serious complications include encephalitis and myocarditis.

Mumps is most commonly spread when someone ingests (swallows) or inhales the cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person. The virus is also carried in urine. Symptoms occur between 14 and 25 days following infection.

One person in three who contracts mumps does not have any symptoms and doesn’t realise they are sick, but they are still contagious and may infect many other people. A healthy person without symptoms who spreads an infectious disease is called a ‘carrier’.

Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
This is a highly infectious bacterial disease that causes bouts of coughing. Adolescents and adults can have an annoying cough for up to three months. Severe bouts of coughing can cause vomiting, rib fractures, rupture of small blood vessels and hernias. About one in 125 babies aged less than six months who catch whooping cough from an infected person will die from pneumonia or brain damage.

Whooping cough is spread to other people by droplets from coughing or sneezing. Untreated, a person with whooping cough can spread it to other people for up to three weeks after the onset of cough.

Poliomyelitis (polio)
This is a serious infectious disease caused by a virus. Symptoms vary from mild, flu-like symptoms to life-threatening paralysis. Between two and five per cent of people who develop paralytic polio will die. Half of those who survive will have permanent paralysis. It is most common in infants but can attack older children and even adults. Symptoms of new weakness, joint and muscle pain and fatigue can occur years after an initial bout of polio and is known as post-polio syndrome.

Since 1986, the only new case of polio in Australia was reported in July 2007. This person was a traveller who acquired his infection in Pakistan.

The virus usually enters the environment in the faeces of someone who is infected. In areas with poor sanitation, the virus easily spreads through the faecal-oral route, via contaminated water or food. In addition, direct contact with a person infected with the virus can cause polio. There is no cure for polio once a person becomes infected.

Rotavirus
This is the most common cause of severe gastroenteritis in early childhood. Almost all children have been infected by the time they reach five years of age. In developing countries rotavirus is responsible for approximately half a million deaths per year. In developed countries such as Australia, death from rotavirus is rare but hospitalisations are common, especially in children under two years of age.

Rotavirus infections are highly infectious and are spread by the vomit or faeces of an infected person through person-to-person contact, for example touching someone who has been sick and has the virus on their hands, contaminated objects, contaminated food or drink.

Rubella
Rubella is a viral illness that causes a skin rash and joint pain. A rubella infection is mild for most people, but it can have catastrophic consequences for an unborn baby. If a pregnant woman contracts rubella, her baby is at risk of severe and permanent birth defects or death. Rubella is sometimes called German measles, but rubella is a different viral disease to measles.

Rubella is most commonly spread when someone ingests (swallows) or inhales the cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person. Infants with CRS shed the rubella virus in their nose and throat secretions and in their urine for months or even years. Symptoms occur usually between 14 to 17 days (and up to 21 days). People infected are infectious for about one week before, and for at least four days after, the onset of the rash.

Tetanus
This is a severe, often fatal disease of the nervous system. The person suffers severe painful muscle spasms, convulsions and lockjaw. Even with modern intensive care about one in 10 people will die.

Tetanus is caused by bacteria found in soil and infection may occur after minor injuries (sometimes unnoticed punctures to the skin that are contaminated with soil, dust or manure) or major injuries.

Varicella (Chickenpox)
Chickenpox is a highly contagious infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It is usually a mild disease of short duration in healthy children with symptoms such as slight fever, runny nose, feeling generally unwell and a skin rash that turns to blisters. However, it is more severe in adults and can cause serious and even fatal illness in individuals who are immunosuppressed. One in 100,000 infected patients develop encephalitis (brain inflammation). Infection during pregnancy can result in congenital abnormalities in the baby.

Early in the illness, chickenpox is spread by coughing. Later in the illness, the virus is spread by direct contact with the fluid in the blisters. The infection is highly contagious to people who have never had chickenpox or who have not been immunised. People are infectious from one or two days before the rash appears (that is, during the runny nose phase) and up to five days after (when the blisters have formed crusts or scabs).

NOTE: This content is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professionals. Readers are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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