Vaccinations on the National Immunisation Schedule are free for anyone until their 18th birthday.
Very young children are particularly at risk of becoming sick, because their immune system lacks experience and is unable to respond quickly. Many of the diseases that vaccines protect us from are very serious in young children. For example, whooping cough is highly contagious and poses a high risk of serious complications to new-borns, young children and the hapū māmā. Immunisations during pregnancy are the most effective and safe way to provide protection for both māmā and pēpē.
Whilst the pēpē will get some protective cells (antibodies) passed on from māmā, these cells do not last long, most about 6 weeks after delivery, even if pēpē is breastfed. This is why it is so important following birth, pēpē/children are immunised, to make their own long lasting protection from serious illness and diseases. Immunisations begin at 6 weeks old and continues regularly until pēpē is 5 years old to ensure their protection when they are most at risk of serious illness.
Why should I vaccinate my child?
Vaccines have been developed to combat diseases that were very serious, which in some cases caused life-long problems, or even death. When a child is immunised against diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, polio and whooping cough, there is far less risk of the child becoming unwell.
Vaccines allow a child’s body to produce protective cells (antibodies) to the diseases, the same as it would if they got the disease, but without your child ever becoming unwell.
The amazing benefits of immunisation outweigh the extremely small risks.
What if I decide not to vaccinate?
Vaccination is recommended for all children. If you decide not to vaccinate your child, or not to get all the recommended vaccinations on time, there are some things you will need to know. Non-vaccination is not without risk; your pēpē is at greater risk of infection and complications. As a parent, you will need to be aware of how to recognise the signs and symptoms of illness and what you need to do about them.
Even today, some illnesses like measles, as we saw in Samoa recently, have tragic consequences and can still be very harmful to an un-immunised child. See article: Samoa’s devastating measles epidemic – why and how bad?
If there is an outbreak, your child may be excluded from school, activities or friends and whānau they love. Whilst your pēpē may remain well while being infected, a frail relative or pregnant family member may not.
If you would like to talk about your concerns please book an appointment with your GP and/or nurse and talk things through; it’s never too late to talk about immunisation as one of the ways to protect your pēpē/tamariki.
About the National Immunisation Schedule
Comprehensive Care supports the delivery of the National Immunisation Schedule through our network of General Practices. This schedule of immunisations provides the best protection for all our children when they are most at risk. All our nurses and GPs attend regular updates on immunisation and provide the most up to date information and recommendations.
Visit the HealthEd website for full information on the Schedule.
Free vaccinations are available for anyone under the age of 18, regardless of eligibly for other health services, for:
- hepatitis B
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
- human papillomavirus (HPV)
- pneumococcal disease
- whooping cough (also known as pertussis)
Some children may need to be vaccinated at different times than others, so discuss any individual needs with your doctor.