Key messages

  • Local government should follow guidelines on delivering high-quality immunisation services.
  • If a local council needs to seek informed consent from a parent over the phone, this must be done by clinical staff, not administrative staff.
  • Catch-up schedules should be developed by clinical staff.
  • If the catch-up schedule was developed by administrative staff, a clinical staff member should review the schedule before administering vaccines.

Guidelines for immunisation practice in local governments

Local government may provide immunisation services:

  • in mass community settings
  • at schools
  • at maternal and child health centres
  • at workplaces.

Guidelines for immunisation practice in local governments provides guidance to local councils on delivering high-quality immunisation services.

Consent for immunisation

It is common practice for local council staff to obtain verbal consent from parents over the phone when students have not returned a signed immunisation consent card. Local councils have asked whether it is appropriate for administrative, as opposed to clinical staff, to perform this function.

The common law requires that a parent’s consent must be informed, that is, the parent must have been given adequate information to enable them to make an informed decision about vaccinating their child. In order to provide informed consent, a parent requires specific information about the vaccine, its side effects and the disease it is protecting against.

Verbal informed consent should be obtained by clinical staff who possess the requisite knowledge and expertise to provide this information to parents. Administrative staff are not adequately equipped to obtain informed consent over the phone from parents. 

The law recognises that as children become older and more mature, they are more capable of making their own decisions about a wide range of issues including decisions about their healthcare and wellbeing. These young people are referred to as 'mature minors' - see Decision making by mature minors for more information.

Immunisation catch-up schedules – staff responsible 

Catch-up schedules should be developed by clinical staff. If the schedule was developed by administrative staff, a clinical staff member should review the schedule before administering vaccines.

Local councils develop immunisation catch-up schedules for children and adolescents who attend local council immunisation sessions and who are not fully vaccinated.

Catch-up schedules are used to guide the nurse immunisers who administer vaccinations to children. Nurse immunisers are legally responsible for the vaccinations that they administer, and must ensure that they administer the right vaccine to the right patient at the right dose and time, by the correct route of administration.

Nurse immunisers must be satisfied that:

  • vaccine histories have been captured appropriately
  • vaccines have been stored appropriately and have not expired
  • there are no contraindications to vaccination
  • any medical conditions that may be a contraindication to vaccination, or may indicate a need for additional vaccines, have been taken into account
  • informed consent has been obtained
  • any queries have been answered and possible side effects explained
  • the patient goes home with written documentation of the vaccines administered
  • the patient understands when to return for the next vaccine.

Catch-up schedules should be developed by clinical staff who have the required knowledge and expertise to ensure that the issues detailed above have been satisfactorily addressed.

If the catch-up schedule was developed by administrative staff rather than clinical staff, the nurse immuniser should review the schedule and ensure these issues have been addressed before administering vaccines.

Resources for planning Immunisation catch-up schedules

Please find the links to vaccine catch-up tools to assist you in planning catch-up for children, adolescents and adults.

Catch-up for less than 10 years of age: Immunisation Calculator

Catch-up between 10 years to 19 years of age: download the Victorian immunisation catch-up tool

Catch-up guidelines and resources for children and adults: the Australian Immunisation Handbook

Contact details