Immunisation and enrolling in childcare: changes to the Victorian law
In an effort to improve childhood immunisation rates, the Victorian Government has amended the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008. The amendments, in effect from 1 January 2016, mean that early childhood education and care services cannot confirm enrolment of a child unless the parent/carer has provided documentation that shows the child:
- is fully vaccinated for their age; or
- is on a recognised catch-up schedule if their child has fallen behind with their vaccinations; or
- has a medical reason not to be vaccinated.
'Conscientious objection' to vaccination is not an exemption.
Proof of immunisation for the purpose of enrolling in childcare and kindergarten
The most common document to prove immunisation status for the purpose of enrolling at childcare or kindergarten is an Immunisation History Statement from the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).
Less common, but also acceptable is a document/s signed by a GP or immunisation nurse that contains the same information as an AIR Immunisation History Statement.
These documents are collectively known as Immunisation Status Certificates.
The role of immunisation providers
- Immunise according to the schedule.
- Provide prompt and accurate information to the AIR.
- In some cases provide an alternative Immunisation Status Certificate.
As well as the essential role of delivering vaccines in accordance with the National Immunisation Program schedule, immunisation providers can assist with acceptable proof of immunisation status.
The parent will need to provide the early childhood education and care service with an Immunisation Status Certificate to finalise enrolment.
The preferred type of Immunisation Status Certificate is the AIR Immunisation History Statement and parents should be strongly encouraged to provide this wherever possible.
Provide prompt and accurate information to AIR
Immunisation providers should take care to ensure that information provided to the AIR is correct and promptly provided. Delays or inaccuracies in the information provided to AIR by immunisation providers could result in parents having problems when enrolling a child in an early childhood education and care service.
In some cases provide an alternative Immunisation Status Certificate
In some cases, the process of updating AIR and the reissuing of an AIR Immunisation History Statement may not be able to be completed within the desired timeframe to finalise enrolment. In these cases an immunisation provider (a GP or immunisation nurse) can provide an immunisation status certificate that can be used to prove a child's immunisation status.
Checklist for Immunisation Status Certificate
You can download the immunisation status certificate checklist of what needs to be included in an Immunisation Status Certificate for the purposes of enrolment at an early childhood education and care service. The document/s need to contain all of the following:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- List of vaccine/s the child has received and when the vaccine was given (can be a separate attachment, such as a previous AIR Immunisation History Statement, or AIR Immunisation History Form recording overseas vaccinations)
- Date of the child's next due vaccine; OR
- A statement saying the child has completed all their childhood vaccinations
- If relevant, list of any vaccine/s that child cannot receive for a medical contraindication (GP only)
Immunisation provider's details
- Provider's full name
- Organisation name
- Signed and dated by immunisation provider
- Medicare provider number OR Australian Childhood Immunisation Register number
Immunisation medical exemption - advice for GPs
In order to claim medical exemption from one or more immunisations for the purpose of enrolling into childcare and kindergarten, parents or carers will have to provide a current Immunisation History Statement from the AIR. This states that the child has a vaccine exemption due to a medical contraindication or natural immunity to one or more vaccines. AIR lists the contraindicated vaccine(s) by name on the bottom of the Immunisation History Statement.
The General Practitioner (GP) involved in the individual patient's care completing the Immunisation medical exemption form will base vaccine exemption on a case-by-case assessment, of a child's medical history. Only these GPs are eligible to complete the form.
Download the Immunisation medical exemption form the Commonwealth Department of Human Services website.
Victoria has specialist hospital-based immunisation services to support GPs with patients who have a vaccine safety or medical concern. Call 1300 882 924 for more information if required.
If a diagnosis relating to a medical contraindication is made by a specialist (e.g. immunologist), the specialist should confirm the diagnosis to the referring GP, who can then notify AIR using the Immunisation medical exemption form.
False contraindications to vaccination
Conditions listed below are not contraindications to vaccination. Persons with these conditions should be vaccinated with all recommended vaccines.
The following conditions are not contraindications to any of the vaccines in the National Immunisation Program schedule:
- mild illness without fever (T <38.5oC)
- family history of adverse events following immunisation
- past history of convulsions
- treatment with antibiotics
- treatment with locally acting (inhaled or low-dose topical) steroids
- replacement corticosteroids
- asthma, eczema, atopy, hay fever or ‘snuffles’
- previous pertussis-like illness, measles, rubella, mumps, varicella, herpes zoster or meningococcal disease
- prematurity (vaccination should not be postponed and can be given if the infant is medically stable).
- history of neonatal jaundice
- low weight in an otherwise healthy child
- neurological conditions, including cerebral palsy and Down syndrome
- contact with an infectious disease
- child’s mother is pregnant
- child to be vaccinated is being breastfed
- woman to be vaccinated is breastfeeding
- recent or imminent surgery
- poorly documented vaccination history.
Source: Australian Immunisation .
For more information visit The Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th Edition (updated June .
Children who were vaccinated overseas must have their vaccine records assessed and be offered vaccination as required. Record overseas vaccines to AIR by submitting the AIR Immunisation History form. The AIR updates the child's records and the parents can request from AIR an Immunisation History Statement that indicates the due date for future vaccinations if required. This statement can be provided to the service as proof of immunisation status for the purposes of enrolment.
Resources to order
The following resources can be ordered free from the immunisation resources order :
- Poster: Are your child's immunisations up to date? To remind parents about vaccination for enrolment in early childhood education and care services. Includes information in six community languages.
- Brochure: Starting childcare or kindergarten? Immunisation information for parents enrolling a child: To assist parents to understand immunisation requirements for enrolling in early childhood education and care services. Available in a range of languages from the Health Translations .
- Card: VaxOnTime Victoria app: Designed for Victorian parents, the VaxOnTime app provides tailored reminders on smart phones when vaccinations are due, assists with locating providers and booking appointments and links to relevant quality-assured information on the Better Health Channel.