Vaccines for children and teenagers

A baby receiving a vaccine by injection

Vaccinating your child protects them from infectious diseases.
Image: Dmitry Naumov/Shutterstock.com

Why should I vaccinate my child?

Vaccinating your child when they are young is the safest and most effective way of protecting them from infectious diseases, and the complications of some infections.

After vaccination with a particular vaccine, your child will be immune to that infection and will be less likely to catch the disease.

As with all medicines, there are benefits and risks associated with vaccination. The benefit of protecting your child from disease and possible complications far outweighs the very small risks that can be associated with vaccines (e.g. side effects such as fever or pain at the injection site).

In addition to children, it's important that everyone in the community is immunised. If enough people are immunised, the infection can no longer be spread from person to person. This is called 'herd immunity'. This can eventually eliminate the disease altogether.

Polio and smallpox are examples of how a disease can be eradicated by making sure most people are vaccinated in childhood.

What vaccines will my child need and when?

Your doctor or health professional will be able to advise you about what vaccinations your child or teenager should have and when.

Children and teenagers who are considered at high risk of infection because they have a particular medical condition may need to have a few extra vaccinations in addition to the routine vaccinations given as part of the National Immunisation Program schedule.

The vaccinations your child will need may also differ according to which state you live in. This is because some infections may be present in some places and not others. Check with your local and/or state authorities for what vaccines are recommended for you and your family (see Resources and useful links).

The Australian government funds the National Immunisation Program. The program provides information and makes recommendations about the vaccinations that children, teenagers, adults, older people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should receive and when they should have them. These vaccinations are free for all eligible Australians.

For more information on the routine immunisations for children and teenagers and the ages at which they should be given, see What vaccines and when? or visit the National Immunisation Program website.

Children at high risk of infection

Children who are at higher risk of infection must be immunised to protect them from infection. This includes children:

  • with asthma and any long-term lung disease
  • born with heart disease or heart abnormalities
  • born prematurely or who are very small for their age 
  • who have had their spleen removed (splenectomy)
  • with Down syndrome
  • who are HIV positive.

For more information on the routine immunisations for children and teenagers and the ages at which they should be given, see What vaccines and when? or visit the Immunisation Australia website.

References