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HealthInfo Canterbury

Vaccinations for children

baby-immuniseAll children born in New Zealand are recorded on the National Immunisation Register. This is a confidential, computerised information system that records children's vaccinations.

Your lead maternity carer, GP or practice nurse will discuss the register with you, including what information is collected and stored and who can see it.

Children may visit many different healthcare providers. The National Immunisation Register makes sure information about your child's vaccinations is always available, even if you move away or change doctor.

It also helps to make sure that your child receives the right vaccinations at the right ages. It does this by reminding your healthcare provider when your child's vaccinations are due and when they're overdue.

General practices, district health boards and the Ministry of Health also use the register to monitor how many people are being vaccinated and to assess the risk of a disease epidemic. An epidemic happens when a disease is widespread in the community. To reduce the spread of disease, New Zealand health professionals aim to ensure 95% of children under the age of 5 are vaccinated.

If you choose not to have your child vaccinated, this is recorded on the register.

If you don't want your child's vaccinations details to be recorded, you may opt your child off the register. If you do this, you can still have your child vaccinated. You'll need to complete and sign a form that your lead maternity carer, GP or practice nurse will provide.

Enrolling your baby

It's best to contact your general practice and enrol your baby soon after they're born, as their first vaccinations are due when they're 6 weeks old.

Preschool vaccinations

child-on-bikeThere are several serious vaccine-preventable diseases that can harm or even be fatal for babies. Make sure you protect your baby by having them vaccinated on time to ensure a healthy start. You won't need to pay for these vaccinations at your general practice.

Your general practice team are there to support you and your baby, to answer any concerns you may have and to give any advice you need after the vaccinations.

The Ministry of Health recommends that you have your child vaccinated according to the National Immunisation Schedule. Vaccinations are scheduled at:

From the age of 6 months, children can also have the seasonal flu vaccination. This is normally available at general practices between 1 March and 31 December each year.

Getting vaccinations on time helps to reduce the chance of infections being passed to young babies who may not have had all their vaccinations or to other children who can't be vaccinated because of medical conditions.

If your baby is born prematurely and still in hospital when their vaccinations are due, they'll be vaccinated there.

If your child isn't fully vaccinated, they can be excluded from school or preschool if there's a disease outbreak.

Helpful hints for new parents

Usually the practice nurse gives vaccinations, but the GP often likes to meet the new baby and do a six-week check. So, don't be surprised if you see them both. This helps the general practice team develop an understanding of you and your family's changing needs.

Take your child's Well Child Tamariki Ora health book with you every time you go for their vaccinations. The practice nurse will record the details in it for you to keep. You'll need to show it when your child has their B4 school check and when they enrol at school.

If you're bringing other children along or are getting more than one child vaccinated at the same time, let the practice nurse know and they'll do all they can to make the visit less stressful.

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Written by the Canterbury Immunisation Provider Group. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed July 2017. Last updated September 2020.

See also:

Vaccination safety

Page reference: 48028

Review key: HIIMM-47872