In Victoria, adolescents (including refugee and other humanitarian entrants) aged 10 – 19 years are eligible for free vaccinations under the National Immunisation Program. While these vaccines are most often delivered by local councils in a secondary school setting, young people who are not attending secondary school, or for who prefer or need to access the vaccines in a different setting, can still access free vaccinations from the following immunisation providers:
- A GP (doctor)
This will require an appointment to be made. While the vaccines are free under the National Immunisation Program, the GP may charge an appointment fee.
- A nurse immuniser
Nurse immunisers are registered nurses with extra training that allows them to give vaccines to some groups. Nurse immunisers are employed across a range of settings including local councils, general practice, hospitals, community health and occupational health services. Free vaccines provided to adolescents under the National Immunisation Program are most often given by nurse immunisers who are employed by local councils.
- A pharmacist immuniser
Pharmacist immunisers are registered pharmacists with extra training that allows them to give some vaccines to some groups. Pharmacist immunisers may be able to provide some vaccine/s to adolescents, noting that this is often restricted to those age 15 years or over, depending on the vaccine required.
Consent for vaccination
Children and young people under 18 years of age generally require parent/guardian consent to be vaccinated. Consent can be provided by the parent/guardian accompanying the young person to receive the vaccine/s.
Consent without a parent/guardian
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. The law recognises that a young person may reach this stage before they are 18 years old. These young people are referred to as 'mature minors'.
There is no specific age when a young person may be deemed a mature minor. Determining whether a young person is a mature minor requires consideration of whether they have sufficient maturity to understand the nature and effect of a decision to be vaccinated. Relevant factors include:
- level of maturity for their age
- understanding of the issues and consequences
- living arrangements (independence).
A medical practitioner or other health or welfare professional who is considered to have sufficient knowledge of the young person and their history and circumstances can make this assessment based on the factors listed above.
Catch-up vaccination for adolescents
Some young people may require catch-up vaccines to bring them up to date with the vaccines provided under the National Immunisation Program. Depending on the circumstances, planning a catch-up schedule can be a complex undertaking. Immunisation providers can use the resources provided in the Downloads section to assist.