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Page last updated on 27 July 2020

Your baby’s immune system is not fully developed like older children and adults. Therefore, vaccination is an effective way to protect your baby against certain vaccine-preventable diseases.

A number of vaccinations are required in the first few years of a child’s life, and it is important that your baby receives their vaccinations on time so that they can achieve maximum protection.  The Department of Health and Ageing’s National Immunisation Program (NIP) outlines the recommended vaccinations for babies and when they are due. 


Vaccinations listed in the NIP are free, and include vaccination at birth, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12 months, and 18 months. 2,3 The schedule then resumes at 4 years, and again at adolescence (12–15 years). 

The NIP includes the following vaccinations for babies in their first 18 months:

Age Vaccination
Birth
  • Hepatitis B
2 months 
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B, polio, Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib)
  • Pneumonoccal 
  • Rotavirus

Additional vaccine available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants (from 1 July 2020):

  • Meningococcal B
     
4 months 
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B, polio, Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib)
  • Pneumococcal 
  • Rotavirus

Additional vaccine available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants (from 1 July 2020):

  • Meningococcal B
6 months
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B, polio, Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib)
 

 Additional vaccine for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children   (QLD, NT, WA, and SA) and medically at-risk children:

  • Pneumococcal

Additional vaccine available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants (from 1 July 2020):

  • Meningococcal B
12 months
  • Meningococcal ACWY
  • Measles, mumps, rubella
  • Pneumococcal

Additional vaccine available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants (from 1 July 2020):

  • Meningococcal B
18 months
  • Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib)
  • Measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (chicken pox)
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough)
 

 Additional vaccine for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children   (QLD, NT, WA, and SA) and medically at-risk children:

  • Hepatitis A

Commonly asked questions

What vaccines are given to my child in the first 18 months of age?

Babies are given a variety of vaccines within their first 18 months of life. Under the National Immunisation Program (NIP), vaccines are provided for free at birth 2, 4, 6, 12 and 18 months. The primary series of vaccinations are given at 2, 4, and 6 months. The gap between the doses of vaccines is to make sure that each dose has time to work effectively. 

At birth, generally within the first 24 hours and definitely within the first seven days, babies are given a vaccination for hepatitis B. 

The next vaccination time is at 2 months of age, but the vaccinations can be given from 6 weeks of age. Vaccination is a single injection for a combined vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis), hepatitis B, polio, Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b), an injection for pneumococcal disease and oral drops for rotavirus. 

At 4 months of age, babies are given their second dose of those vaccines given at 2 months of age.  Giving additional doses of the same vaccine allows a baby’s immunity to slowly build up over time and allows full immunity at the end of the dosing regimen. 

At 6 months, the third dose against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis), hepatitis B, polio and Hib is given.  

Three vaccinations are given at 12 months: meningococcal ACWY, pneumococcal and a combined injection for measles, mumps and rubella. 

At 18 months, three vaccines are given – a combined injection against measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chicken pox), the fourth dose of the diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine and a vaccine for Hib. Additional vaccinations are given to children who have certain underlying medical conditions and fir aboriginal and torres strait islander children. Check with your doctor if you think your child may be eligible.

What are the risks of not vaccinating my baby?

Your baby’s immune system is not fully developed like older children and adults. Therefore, vaccination is an effective way to protect your baby against certain vaccine-preventable infectious diseases.
 

By keeping your child up-to-date with their vaccinations, you’re also helping out the community by protecting the more vulnerable people from becoming infected. Many of the diseases we are vaccinating against are rarely seen in Australia anymore, this is because of routine widespread vaccination and surveillance. These diseases do still occur in some parts of the world. If we stopped vaccination and someone was to arrive from overseas with one of these infections, it could easily spread to others.

Are there free vaccines for babies and infants?

Yes. All vaccines listed on the National Immunisation Program (NIP) are free. However, your healthcare provider or GP may charge you a consultation fee. 

There are additional vaccines that are not provided free as part of the NIP, which your GP may recommend, for example, those against the flu, vaccines against different types of meningococcal strains and travel vaccines.9 Your GP or practice nurse will be able to advise you about the benefits and risks of these immunisations for your baby.  

In addition, children with certain medical conditions may be eligible for additional vaccines for free. Speak with your GP or practice nurse for more information.

What happens if my baby/infant misses a routine vaccine?

You can visit your healthcare provider or GP who will determine if your child is eligible for a catch-up immunisation. This means your child may then follow a slightly different schedule to the National Immunisation Program (NIP).

How many times do I need to bring my baby/infant in for vaccinations?

The National Immunisation Program (NIP) includes vaccination at birth, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12 months, and 18 months. The schedule then resumes at 4 years, and again at adolescence. 

In addition to the NIP, you may wish to protect your child against other diseases – particularly if you are travelling. Some of these vaccines may be required at different ages. Your healthcare provider or GP will be able to advise you about the benefits and risks of these immunisations for your child and when they should be given.

If my baby/infant is ill, should I postpone their vaccination?

It is best to contact your GP or healthcare provider if your baby or infant is ill. They will determine whether it is appropriate for your child to be vaccinated. If your child has a fever of 38.5C or above, it is usually recommended to wait until their fever has cleared before getting vaccinated. 

My baby was premature – should they wait until they're older for their routine vaccinations?

No. If your child is otherwise healthy and medically stable, infants can be vaccinated according to the usual schedule recommended by the National Immunisation Program (NIP), without correcting for their premature birth. However, it is advisable to check with your healthcare professional.

VaccineHub offers general information only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice

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Sources & Citations

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccine Safety – Multiple Vaccines and the Immune System. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/multiple-vaccines-immunity.html (accessed 14 May 2020).
  2. Australian Government. Department of Health. How do I immunise my child? Available at: https://campaigns.health.gov.au/immunisationfacts/how-do-i-immunise-my-child (accessed 14 May 2020).
  3. Australian Government. Department of Health. National Immunisation Program Schedule. Available at: https://beta.health.gov.au/resources/publications/national-immunisation-program-schedule-portrait (accessed 14 May 2020).
  4. Australian Government. Department of Health. Why get immunised? Available at: https://campaigns.health.gov.au/immunisationfacts/why-get-immunised (accessed 14 May 2020).
  5. Baby Centre, What extra immunisations are available? Available at https://www.babycenter.com.au/a25019267/what-extra-immunisations-are-available#ixzz5Ez4jNYxg (accessed 14 May 2020).
  6. City of Monash. Immunisation – Frequently Asked Questions. Available at: https://www.monash.vic.gov.au/Services/Children-Family/Immunisation/Childhood-Immunisations-and-Council-Sessions/Immunisation-Frequently-Asked-Questions (accessed 14 May 2020).
  7. Australian Government. Department of Health. Australian Immunisation Handbook. Vaccination for preterm infants. Available at: https://immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au/vaccination-for-special-risk-groups/vaccination-for-preterm-infants (accessed 14 May 2020).
  8. Australian Government. Department of Health. ATAGI Clinical advice on changes to recommendations for the use and funding of meningococcal vaccines from July 1 2020. Available at: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/atagi-clinical-advice-on-changes-to-recommendations-for-meningococcal-vaccines-from-1-july-2020 (accessed 22 June 2020). 
  9. Australian Government. Department of Health. Clinical Update: National Immunisation Program (NIP) schedule changes from 1 July 2020 – advice for vaccination providers.   Available at: https://www.health.gov.au/news/clinical-update-national-immunisation-program-nip-schedule-changes-from-1-july-2020-advice-for-vaccination-providers (accessed 22 June 2020).
  10. Australian Government. Department of Health. ATAGI Clinical advice on changes to recommendations for the use and funding of pneumococcal vaccines from July 1 2020. Available at: https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/06/atagi-clinical-advice-on-changes-to-recommendations-for-pneumococcal-vaccines-from-1-july-2020_0.pdf (accessed 22 June 2020).
  11. Australian Government. Department of Health. ATAGI Clinical advice on transitioning to the new hepatitis A vaccination schedule on the National Immunisation Program from 1 July 2020. Available at: https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/06/atagi-clinical-advice-on-hepatitis-a-vaccine.pdf (accessed 22 June 2020).

MAT-AU-2000085 - Date of preparation July 2020 

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