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What is the National immunisation program (NIP) Schedule?

Your Health / Managing Your Health / Vaccines & prevention / What is the National Immunisation Program (NIP) Schedule?

Published on 30 Mar, 2021
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Medically reviewed by Pfizer Vaccines Medical Team

What you need to know about the National Immunisation Program in Australia​​​​​​​

Have you ever considered what vaccinations are chosen by the government for the Australian population to receive and why? You may remember receiving a vaccination in school or seeing pamphlets about vaccination program whilst waiting for an appointment at your local GP clinic. In this article we will cover the vaccination schedule in Australia and where to find out more information.​​​​​​

What is the vaccination schedule in Australia?1​​​​​​

The Australian Government have a list of vaccinations that they recommend you receive throughout your lifetime; from when you are born, until you are an older adult.
This list is called the National Immunisation Program (NIP) Schedule or NIP Schedule.
These vaccinations are free to people who can receive Medicare benefits.
There are some other vaccinations that are funded by your state or territory. Please check your relevant state or territory schedule to see what is recommended in your area.

What diseases are addressed and which vaccines are included on the NIP?2

The vaccinations offered on the schedule cover 17 different diseases.

These include:

  • Chickenpox3
    Also known as varicella, causes a blistery, itch skin rash and mild fever. It can spread very easily and is usually mild without the need for treatment. However, in adults or those with impaired immunity it can be severe.
  • ​​​​​​​Diphtheria4
    A serious bacterial disease that causes swelling of the nose, throat and windpipe. It can lead to breathing difficulty, paralysis and heart issues.
  • Flu (influenza)5
    A highly contagious viral infection that affects the respiratory tract. It can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications, including pneumonia (infection of the lung).
  • Hepatitis A6
    A contagious disease which is spread by contact with infected people through their body fluids and waste. It affects the liver and symptoms can include abdominal pain and dark urine.
  • ​​​​​​​Hepatitis B7
    A contagious disease which is spread by contact with infected people through their body fluids and waste. It affects the liver and symptoms can include abdominal pain and dark urine.
    Hepatitis A and B are different viruses so the vaccines to prevent these diseases are different.
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)8
    A bacteria that causes a life-threatening infection that can lead to serious illness, especially in children.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)9
    HPV is a common virus that is spread through sexual contact. HPV infection can be serious and it may cause some cancers.
  • Measles10
    Measles is a very contagious viral illness that causes a skin rash and fever. It can lead to serious conditions affecting your lungs (pneumonia) and brain which can be life-threatening.
  • Meningococcal disease11
    (Serious meningococcal disease)
    Meningococcal disease is caused by a group of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis and it can cause very serious and life-threatening blood or brain infections. There are different types of this bacteria and they are classified by letters of the alphabet, such as A, B, C, W, and Y. Some types of bacteria that can cause serious infection are part of the vaccine program
  • Mumps12
    Mumps is a viral illness that causes fever and swollen salivary glands. It can lead to brain or heart inflammation and can be life-threatening.
  • Pneumonia13
    (Pneumococcal pneumonia)
    Pneumonia is a type of lung infection that can be caused by different germs. A common type of pneumonia is caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae. Some forms of this type of pneumonia are covered by the vaccination program.
  • Polio14
    Polio is a serious disease caused by poliovirus. It is spread by contaminated water, food or hands from someone who has the virus. Some people have mild symptoms, but it can cause lift-threatening paralysis.
  • Rotavirus15
    Rotavirus is a highly contagious disease which is spread by being close to someone who has the infection. Symptoms include severe diarrhoea and vomiting.​​​​​​​
  • Rubella16
    Rubella, or German measles, is a contagious disease with symptoms that include fever and rash. It is particularly dangerous in pregnancy and can cause life-long problems for babies.​​​​​​​​​​​​
  • Shingles17
    Caused by the same virus as chickenpox (varicella), shingles results in a skin rash which causes pain and blistering on one side of the face or body. It happens because of reactivation of the chickenpox virus, which stays in the nerve cells of the body after a chickenpox attack.​​​​​​​​​​​
  • Tetanus18
    Tetanus is a serious bacterial disease. The bacteria is called Clostridium tetani. It can produce toxins that can cause muscle spasms and breathing problems.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
  • Whooping cough19
    Whooping cough is a bacterial infection caused by Bordetella pertussis. It spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes and you breathe it in. The bacteria affect the lungs and airways, causing a person to cough violently and uncontrollably, sounding like a ‘whoop’.

These vaccinations are provided in different stages of life and for different activities, including1:​​​​​

There are also other considerations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples & people with certain medical conditions.​​​​​​​1

Find the complete list of vaccinations, timing and conditions they address included in the NIP here.

How are the vaccinations on the schedule delivered?20

Vaccinations on the NIP schedule can be given by a few different providers. Sometimes it depends on the type of vaccine and when the vaccine is given.

To find out more about where you can get your vaccinations from, visit the Australian Government’s website.​​​​​​

How do I learn more about the NIP

You can visit the Australian Government’s website to see the complete Schedule and review your relevant state or territory schedule here for those additional vaccinations.​​​​​​

Where can I find out more about what vaccinations I’ve had in the past?21

You can access your immunisation history statement from the Australian Immunisation Register or the AIR. The person who provided you the vaccine will update this on the register, so you don’t need to do anything to have this recorded.
The AIR uses your Medicare details to record your vaccination history.
You can access your child’s statement if they are under 14 years of age.

To access your immunisation history statement, you can:​​​​​​​

  1. View online through your myGov account and then access your Medicare online account
  2. Through the Express Plus Medicare mobile app (go to Proof of vaccinations)
  3. Call the AIR enquiries line (1800 653 809, Mon-Fri 8-5pm). Allow 10 business days to get your statement via post
  4. Ask your doctor or vaccine provider to print you out a copy

How does the government decide what vaccines are included and when they are needed in the Schedule?22

The Australian Government work with independent experts (like medical doctors and health economists) to help work out what vaccines should be included.

They look at things like:
  • What diseases do we have in Australia
  • What are the different strains (or type) of the germ that causes the disease
  • Who might be more at risk of the disease
  • How serious is the disease and does this change depending on how old you are
You can find out more about the way the government decides on the vaccine schedule by visiting the Australian Government’s article on Immunisation policy and governance.​​​​​​
​​​​​​​
This information is intended as a guide only. Please talk to a healthcare professional if you have questions about the NIP schedule
​​​​​​​

References

  1. Australian Government. Department of Health. National Immunisation Program. Available at: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/immunisation/immunisation-throughout-life/national-immunisation-program-schedule Accessed: 8th Nov 2021.
  2. Australian Government. Department of Health. National Immunisation Program. Available at: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/immunisation/immunisation-services Accessed: 8 Nov 2021.
  3.  Victorian Government. Department of Health. BetterHealth Channel: Chickenpox. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/chickenpox#complications-of-chickenpox Accessed: 8 Nov 2021.
  4. Victorian Government. Department of Health. BetterHealth Channel: Diphtheria. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/diphtheria Accessed: 8 Nov 2021.
  5. Victorian Government. Department of Health. BetterHealth Channel: Flu (Influenza). Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/flu-influenza#what-is-the-flu-influenza Accessed: 8 Nov 2021.
  6. Australian Government. Department of Health. Hepatitis A. Available at: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/hepatitis-a Accessed: 8 Nov 2021.
  7. Australian Government. Department of Health. Hepatitis B. Available at: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/hepatitis-b Accessed: 8 Nov 2021.
  8. Victorian Government. Department of Health. BetterHealth Channel: Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/haemophilus-influenzae-type-b-hib Accessed: 8 Nov 2021.
  9. Australian Government. Department of Health. Human Papillomavirus. Available at: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/hpv-human-papillomavirus Accessed: 8 Nov 2021.
  10. Victorian Government. Department of Health. BetterHealth Channel: Measles. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/measles Accessed: 8 Nov 2021.
  11. Victorian Government. Department of Health. BetterHealth Channel: Meningococcal disease. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/meningococcal-disease Accessed: 8 Nov 2021.
  12. Victorian Government. Department of Health. BetterHealth Channel: Mumps. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/mumps Accessed: 8 Nov 2021.
  13. Victorian Government. Department of Health. BetterHealth Channel: Pneumonia. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/pneumonia Accessed: 8 Nov 2021.
  14. Victorian Government. Department of Health. BetterHealth Channel: Polio. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/polio-and-post-polio-syndrome Accessed: 8 Nov 2021.
  15. Australian Government. Department of Health. Rotavirus. Available at: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/rotavirus Accessed: 8 Nov 2021.
  16. Australian Government. Department of Health. Rubella (German measles). Available at: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/rubella-german-measles Accessed: 8 Nov 2021.
  17. Victorian Government. Department of Health. BetterHealth Channel: Shingles. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/shingles Accessed: 8 Nov 2021.
  18. Victorian Government. Department of Health. BetterHealth Channel: Tetanus. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/tetanus Accessed: 8 Nov 2021.
  19. Australian Government. Department of Health. Whooping Cough (pertussis). Available at: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/whooping-cough-pertussis Accessed: 8 Nov 2021.
  20. Australian Government. Department of Health. Where can I get immunised? Available at: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/immunisation/about-immunisation/where-can-i-get-immunised Accessed: 8 Nov 2021.
  21. Australian Government. Department of Health. Check immunisation history Available at: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/immunisation/getting-vaccinated/check-immunisation-history Accessed: 8 Nov 2021.
  22. National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS). Why is the schedule the way it is? Available at: https://www.talkingaboutimmunisation.org.au/Why-is-the-schedule-the-way-it-is Accessed: 8 Nov 2021.

PP-VAC-AUS-0037 11/21.

​​​​​​​External Resources

-Australian Government. Department of Health. National Immunisation Program
-National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS). Sharing Knowledge About Immunisation

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