Immunisation

  • Under the NSW Public Health Act 2010, immunisation procedures apply to preschoolers enrolling in department preschools. These procedures help to improve childhood immunisation rates and support the management of outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases.
  • The NSW parliament has passed a bill to amend the Public Health Act to strengthen vaccination enrolment requirements. From 1 January 2018 children who are unvaccinated due to their parent’s conscientious objection will no longer be able to attend preschool.
  • A school cannot enrol a child in preschool unless the parent/guardian has provided an approved immunisation certificate that shows the child:
    • is fully immunised for their age, or
    • has a medical reason not to be vaccinated, or
    • is on a recognised catch-up schedule if their child has fallen behind with their vaccinations.

Only approved Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) forms can be accepted. Parents/guardians must provide a copy of one or more of the following:

AIR documentation

Purpose

Record in ERN

Notes

Immunisation History Statement

Showing the child is up to date with their scheduled immunisations and is fully vaccinated for their age

Up to date

A child under 4 years of age who has received their 18 month vaccinations and have the words ‘up to date’  written in the immunisation status field of the Immunisation History Statement, are up to date.

Immunisation History Form

Certifying the child is on a recognised catch-up schedule as they have fallen behind with their vaccinations

Not up to date

 

Immunisation Medical Exemption Form

Certifying the child has a medical reason not to be vaccinated

Not up to date

 

Immunisation History Statement and an Immunisation Medical Exemption Form

Certifying the child cannot receive some or all of the vaccines

Not up to date

Which children are eligible for temporary exemption at enrolment?

In the following exceptional circumstances, a child can have a 12 week period from the date of enrolment for their parents/guardians to provide the documentation:

Circumstance

Record in ERN

  • Evacuated following a declared natural   disaster
  • In need of protection and/or placed in   emergency care, for example:
    • child placed in emergency foster care
    • parent/guardian of a child needing urgent health care, or
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children
  • Not up to date

AIR forms

Medicare automatically mails an updated Immunisation History Statement to parents/guardians after their child has completed their 4 year old immunisations. Parents/guardians can also obtain updated statements at any time by:

The Personal Health Record (Blue Book), a GP letter and/or an overseas vaccination record must not be accepted as evidence of a child’s immunisation status.

The school must not enrol the child if there is no approved documentation provided at enrolment, unless they are eligible for the temporary exemption. No preschool child should be recorded in ERN as ‘unknown/not provided’

Enforcing immunisation requirements

New offences have been created to ensure that principals only enrol children for whom the appropriate forms have been provided and that these forms have not been forged or falsified. Fines of up to $5500 can apply to these offences.

Register of immunisation

Schools must keep a register of the immunisation status of preschool children at enrolment. The register must be kept for three years from the date the child leaves the preschool.

A sample register template is available for download to help prompt schools to follow-up with families for evidence of updated immunisation for their child.

It is important that schools have a system in place to follow up in a timely manner with parents.

The information will be used by the Public Health Unit to help manage an outbreak of vaccine preventable diseases like measles or whooping cough by identifying children who are not protected against the disease. For the duration of an outbreak, all unimmunised children will be required to stay at home to protect them from infection and prevent them from passing infection to others.

When a child turns 4 years of age

  • Parents/guardians should be reminded to provide an updated Immunisation History Statement form. Keep a record to show that you have requested current documentation.
  • An SMS or email reminder can be sent to parents e.g. “It’s time to vaccinate – please ensure current immunisation documentation is brought to the school after your child receives their 4 year old immunisation”.
  • The NSW Health ‘Save the Date to Vaccinate’ website and reminder phone App are tools that can assist parents.
  • Children without updated documentation will be excluded if there is an outbreak of a vaccine preventable disease.

Temporary resident visas and refugees

  • Children who have temporary resident or refugee status are required to attend a doctor/ immunisation nurse to have their immunisation status assessed and an Immunisation History Form completed. A copy of this form must be presented to the preschool.

Access to the school’s immunisation records

  • Officers from NSW Health are authorised to inspect the school’s immunisation register.
  • ERN data is reviewed and provided to NSW Health every 6 months to monitor compliance with the Public Health Act 2010 vaccination documentation requirements.
  • The Early Childhood Education Directorate is assisting NSW Health to ensure that immunisation requirements are being met. Officers will be checking that services are maintaining correct procedures during routine compliance activities.

More information

The NSW Health Immunisation Enrolment Toolkit provides detailed advice for school staff on their responsibilities and about immunisation record management.

Should any school staff have questions or queries about this, visit the NSW Health website or contact the Early Learning Unit on 9266 8198 or 9266 8110. Parents wanting information on immunisation should contact 1800 653 809.

Download the Immunisation information for enrolment of preschool children document which answers the most frequently asked questions about immunisation and enrolment in department preschools.

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