Immunisation is a way of preventing infectious diseases. Vaccinations are offered to babies, children and adults to protect against serious and preventable diseases.
Immunisation uses your body’s natural defence mechanism, the immune response, to build resistance to specific infections. If you have been immunised and you come into contact with that disease, your immune system will respond to prevent you developing the disease.
All vaccines approved for use in New Zealand have a good safety record and have ongoing safety monitoring. You can find out more at the University of Auckland Immunisation Advisory Centre website, or you can call 0800 IMMUNE to have your queries answered.
Why get immunised?
Immunisation helps protect against the spread of serious diseases. Learn more about the importance of getting immunised and how vaccine-preventable diseases can affect New Zealand families.
[Doctor Keriana Bird in her office to camera]
Kia ora whānau.
As a doctor, some people think that my job is to look after families when they are sick. Sure, I do, but what I really want to do is prevent our whānau getting sick in the first place.
And I’ve got some good news on that front.
[Doctor Keriana seeing a Mother and baby]
You can help protect your whānau from getting some serious diseases simply by getting free immunisations.
Immunisations helps protect us from diseases that used to harm thousands of Kiwis and left many with permanent damage.
[Images of polio patients]
Not so long ago, kids could get very sick and some died of diseases we can prevent today.
Thanks to immunisation, these preventable diseases are less common now, but they still exist. When they occur, they not only endanger the life of your child, but they also have enormous effects on your family.
[Photo of Alijah Williams]
[Voiceover] Alijah Williams woke up with a sunken face.
[Photo of Alijah in hospital bed connected to breathing tubes]
Within 36 hours, the 7-year-old Auckland boy was crippled by body spasms, unable to swallow and racked with pain.
It all just happened from a cut on his foot - tetanus bacteria live in the soil and can infect even minor wounds, producing a powerful poison.
[Voice of Ian Williams, Alijah's Dad]
It was hideous. He was spasming every three minutes. He was biting his tongue and bleeding. His arms were spasming and he was arching his back, and his whole face and jaw were completely locked.
[Photo of Alijah and his Dad]
Parents like us make the decision to not vaccinate on very little factual information about the actual consequences of the diseases. I fell for the myths and conspiracies theories that people get from the internet. 10 percent of people who get tetanus die and by me choosing not to immunise I put my son at risk.
[Photos of Alijah in hospital bed connected to breathing tubes]
[Voiceover] Alijah spent six weeks in intensive care. He was in hospital for four months, recovery took a year.
[Photo of Alijah in hospital watching a cartoon]
His mother and father had to take a lot of time off work. Their family routine was upended, Alijah missed school, his brother and sister stopped playing sport.
[Title graphic] Serious diseases can be deadly
[Doctor Keriana] Vaccine preventable diseases still occur in New Zealand, with many just a plane ride away.
These diseases are serious and can sometimes be deadly.
When there are pockets of people who aren’t immune, diseases can move through the population quickly.
[Photo of baby with whooping cough in hospital connected to breathing tubes]
[Graphic] Whooping cough outbreak 2010-2013
10,000+ cases, 600+ hospitalised
New Zealand’s whooping cough outbreak caused 10,000 cases in adults and children. Over 600 babies needed hospital treatment and three unimmunised children died.
Babies under 1 are most vulnerable to whooping cough.
[Graphic] Babies under 1 are most vulnerable to whooping cough.
[Photo of a body of a boy covered in measles]
[Animated map of New Zealand/Auckland showing locations of the measles outbreak in 2013/2014]
Between 2013 and 2014, a measles outbreak that started in the Philippines spread to many other countries, including New Zealand. Over 3,000 New Zealanders were quarantined and 48 people needed hospital treatment.
[Graphic] Measles outbreak 2013-2014
3000+ quarantined, 48 hospitalised
This shows how quickly a disease can come back if not enough people are protected.
[Graphic] Animated photo montage of various diseases
Those are just two of the serious diseases that New Zealand’s free National immunisation programme protects against.
[Mother on camera] I was a bit worried about the immunisations.
[Dr Keriana puts plaster on baby after immunisation]
But we gave her lots of cuddles and they were really friendly and answered all our questions. I thought it was going to be a big deal, but it was over really quickly. We’re really pleased she’s protected.
[Dr Keriana] Immunisation helps stop the spread of disease and it protects our whole community.
[Voiceover] Protect your whānau. Immunise on time.
[End title] Immunisation.
Our best protection.
For more info
When should you get immunised?
The National Immunisation Schedule provides a series of free vaccinations timed for different life stages. Immunising on time provides the best protection. Missing or delaying a vaccination can put your family’s health at risk.
- Babies and young children
- Older children
- Travelling overseas
- Are my immunisations up to date?
How do you get immunised?
Your doctor or nurse can provide the vaccinations, which are generally given as injections in the arm or leg (rotavirus vaccine is given as drops of liquid into the mouth). Contact your family doctor to make an appointment. Pharmacists, midwives and other specially trained health professionals can also offer some vaccines.
Vaccines on the National Immunisation Schedule are free. Other vaccines are funded only for people at particular risk of disease. You can choose to pay for vaccines that you are not eligible to receive for free.
Requesting your child’s immunisation records
We have received a number of requests from parents in Australia wanting their children’s immunisation records.
- Find out more about requesting your child’s immunisation records
Changes to the Immunisation Schedule from 2017
PHARMAC have announced changes to the New Zealand National Immunisation Schedule that take effect in 2017.
- From 1 January 2017, HPV immunisation will be free for everyone, male or female, aged 9 to 26. For more information, see Changes to HPV immunisation from 1 January 2017.
- From 1 July 2017, chickenpox immunisation will be free for all children at 15 months of age. Other brand and dosing changes will also take effect from that date. For more information, visit the PHARMAC website.
Immunisation advice reflects the National Immunisation Schedule as at July 2016. Information will be updated as the changes for 2017 take effect.
Year 7 and 8 immunisations
At participating schools, children in Year 7 are offered free immunisations against tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough. Girls in year 8 are offered the HPV immunisation. You can also get them at your general practice.
Duane and Hinetaapora talk about getting immunised against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (or pertussis). What does immunisation do and why do you need it? What are immunisations for and how do they work? How do you get parental consent?
Hinetaapora talks with Ella, a public health nurse, about getting immunised against the human papillomavirus (HPV). What is HPV immunisation and why do you need it?