Open a PDF version to print this topic

HealthInfo Canterbury

Childhood vaccinations

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 immunisations. 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 immunisations is always available, even if you move away or change doctor.

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

General practices, district health boards, and the Ministry of Health also use the register to monitor how many people are being immunised 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 immunised.

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

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

When should I enrol my baby?

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

Preschool immunisations

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 immunised on time to ensure a healthy start. You will not need to pay for these immunisations 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 immunisation.

The Ministry of Health recommends that you have your child immunised 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 of their immunisations, or to other children who cannot be immunised because of medical conditions.

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

If your child is not fully immunised, they can be excluded from school or preschool if there is 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 then. 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 will need to show it when your child has their B4 school check and when they enrol at school.

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

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: BCG (TB) vaccination

Written by the Canterbury Immunisation Provider Group. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Updated July 2107.

See also:

Vaccination safety

Page reference: 48028

Review key: HICHV-48028