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Monday, February 16, 2015

All you need to know about childhood vaccinations

One of the main things I was concerned about when it came to my daughters health, even before she was born, was what vaccinations she would need to have and when. I spent a lot of time reading up on the different types of vaccinations needed and what was involved. I was never considering not vaccinating her, I just wanted to know as much about the process as possible. Before I was given pamphlets from the hospital I really didn't have any idea about childhood vaccinations, apart from knowing that they were available. Today I have a guest post from which helps explain the ins and outs of childhood vaccinations (in Australia) in detail for those who may be in the same boat I was in.


Vaccinations are an easy and effective way to protect children against diseases that could otherwise make them seriously ill or prove fatal. Some of the most frequently recommended vaccinations are covered by Medicare but there may still be some out-of-pocket costs to think about. The situation with travel vaccinations can be a lot more complicated as Medicare does not offer any support for this. Here’s what you need to know about getting your children vaccinated.

Which Vaccinations Do Your Children Need?

Several different vaccinations are needed during childhood - especially in the first few years - to give immunity against dangerous diseases. This includes Hepatitis B, which should be given as soon as possible after birth. The National Immunisation Program (NIP) recommends that the following also need to be protected against:
  • Diphtheria (at 2 months)
  • Tetanus (at 2 months)
  • Polio (at 2 months)
  • Rotavirus (at 2 months)
  • Pneumococcal (at 2 months)
  • Measles (at 12 months)
  • Mumps (at 12 months)
  • Rubella (at 12 months)
  • Meningococcal C (at 12 months)
  • Varicella (at 18 months)
  • HPV (at 12 to 13 years)
NB: The MMR vaccine is required at 4 years if the MMRV has not been given at 18 months
Some vaccinations will only need to be given once but some diseases will require multiple vaccinations to provide full immunity such as the Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis (DTPa) vaccination to protect against diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus.

Medicare and Children’s Vaccinations

The National Immunisation Program (NIP) funds vaccines for 16 diseases. Vaccines covered by the NIP are free of charge to those who are eligible on age grounds or if they are at risk on medical grounds. Be aware that consultation fees for the health care provider’s time may apply, even though the actual vaccinations are free.

Does Medicare Help With Travel Vaccinations?

If your family are going abroad on holiday, you may need to have vaccinations to stay healthy while you’re away. Certain vaccinations may also be needed as an entry requirement in some countries. It’s therefore a good idea to see a healthcare professional a couple of months before you leave to see which kind of vaccinations should be given and when. Depending on where you are going, your family may need to have new vaccinations and/or have booster vaccinations.
Yellow Fever is the only mandatory vaccination needed for Australians travelling to one of the affected countries. Depending on your destination, there may be a risk of various other diseases including hepatitis A and B, rabies, malaria, meningococcal meningitis and typhoid. These are simply recommended, rather than obligatory.
Medicare will cover the costs of a consultation but will not usually extend to the vaccinations themselves. If your GP does not have adequate supply of the vaccine in the surgery, they may write you a script instead. Shopping around at various chemists gives you the opportunity to get the best value for money, and there is also the option to go to a travel clinic (although this will often be more expensive).
As a general rule of thumb, it can cost up to $85 per vaccination. The mandatory Yellow Fever vaccination typically costs around $75 per person. If your family will need lots of different vaccinations, the costs can quickly add up.

Travel Vaccinations and Health Insurance

Health insurance can cover some of the costs of travel vaccinations but not all health funds will necessarily include it in their Extras policies. It’s therefore important to check whether you’ll be covered for travel vaccinations. If in doubt, ask the health fund directly to confirm their stance.
Don’t forget to look at annual limits too. Travel vaccinations are often lumped in with pharmacy Extras cover, which can have a big impact on how far you’ll be covered through health insurance before you go over your annual limit for these services.
At, we’re all about helping more Australians to understand health insurance and find the best cover for their needs and budget. Whether you’re just trying to get a feel for the market or you’ve already got a very good idea of what you need to be covered for, we’ll help you to find a policy that works for you.

Would you like to comment?

  1. A very informative post, vaccination is SO important. It's good to know additional ones can be covered by health insurance.

  2. There you go - I thought it was 18 months AND 4 years...long time ago now, so maybe it was then...

    1. We just did the 18 mth ones Friday and still have to go back at 4yrs as well. Not sure if they did MMR & Varicella this time or just Varicella, it was only one needle.

  3. I can't remember the vaccination schedule from when my kids were all bubs but it has probably changed a bit since then. Great to have a comprehensive list put together! It scares me that many are opting out of vaccinating and thus putting others at risk. It's a bit of a controversial subject so I'll stop there ;-) !

    1. Its changed a bit since I got my childhood vaccinations, we didn't have the chicken pox one or the HPV then. It scares me that so many diseases are making a comeback lately, but I don't want to start a huge controversial argument on here so that's why I steered away from that angle :)

  4. We vaccinated our kids and I've never regretted it. I would have vaccinated them for chicken pox IF I'd known about it. Unfortunately I didn't until they got sick!

    1. We didn't get vaccinated for it either, but luckily I never caught it. I remember mum actually trying to get us to catch it hoping that we then wouldn't get shingles as adults because she had shingles twice and it was horrible. Touch wood I haven't had either.

  5. This was really helpful since I'm starting the vaccination circuit again for my youngest daughter next week! Thanks for the reminder and reinforcing the importance of being vaccinated

    1. Good luck with the vaccinations! I was such a sook with bub's, I had to take mum with me because I couldn't hold her while they gave her the needles.

  6. Thankfully I've finished my vaccinations for now (the older kids will have some more in high school) but a great list for those just starting the journey!

    1. We don't have to do any more here until shes 4 now which is awesome because I hate seeing her get needles.

  7. Great post. We're due for 1 and 4 year old needles :(

  8. I never ever considered not immunising my kids. The alternative is much worse.

  9. Thanks for this informative post Toni. I'm going to share it on my blog FB page.