Vaccination Rules for Child Care and the National Immunisation Schedule

Published on Tuesday, 28 November 2017
Last updated on Tuesday, 31 December 2019

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In New Zealand there is a focus on equal access to early childhood education, whether a child is immunised or not. 

Parents and child carers have some obligations when it comes to vaccinations, though. Here we look at how vaccination rules apply in child care settings, what happens when a vaccine-preventable disease breaks out in a group of cuddly kids, and how the government encourages families to immunise. 

Can children be enrolled without being vaccinated?

In short, yes they can. 

The government sees early childhood services as playing an important role in protecting the health and wellbeing of children in their care, and says that “Immunisation is a proven way of preventing diseases from spreading.” 

However, there is no legal requirement that children be vaccinated before enrolling in an early childhood education (ECE) service or school. 

That said, under the Health (Immunisation) Regulations 1995  parents will be asked to provide an Immunisation Certificate when enrolling their child. This is completed by a doctor or nurse when the child is 15-months-old and four-years-old and the Certificate shows which immunisations, if any, the child has received. 

Using this information, ECE services and schools are legally required to maintain an Immunisation Register showing the vaccine status of each child in their care.  

What happens if there’s an outbreak of disease?

Although unvaccinated children can’t be excluded from an ECE service or school, special steps may be taken if a vaccine-preventable disease breaks out amongst classmates.

According to the government, if a disease like measles, diphtheria or whooping cough emerges in an ECE service or primary school:

  1. Doctors are required to notify the Medical Officer of Health
  2. The child with the illness will be asked to stay home
  3. The Medical Officer can look at the service or school’s Immunisation Register to identify which children aren’t immunised or haven’t provided an Immunisation Certificate
  4. The Officer will then contact the parents/guardians of unvaccinated children and recommend immunisation to prevent the spread of infection
  5. Children who aren’t immunised may be asked to stay home

What is the National Immunisation Schedule?

Although vaccination is a personal choice and there is no financial penalty for deciding not to immunise your child, the rate of immunisation in New Zealand is high. 

This year, the government aims to have 95 per cent of children aged eight months, two years and five years fully immunised; and its National Immunisation Schedule encourages all New Zealanders to vaccinate. 

This Schedule offers a series of free vaccines to babies, children, adolescents and adults to prevent against disease, and here are the government-funded vaccines recommended for infants up to school aged children:

Age Vaccines & Diseases Covered
6 weeks

Rotavirus (start first dose before 15 weeks)
1 oral vaccine (Rotarix®)

Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis/Polio/Hepatitis B/Haemophilus influenzae type b
1 injection (Infanrix®-hexa)

1 injection (Synflorix®)

3 months

Rotavirus (second dose must be given before 25 weeks)
1 oral vaccine (Rotarix®)

Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis/Polio/Hepatitis B/Haemophilus influenzae type b
1 injection (Infanrix®-hexa)

1 injection (Synflorix®)

5 months

Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis/Polio/Hepatitis B/Haemophilus influenzae type b
1 injection (Infanrix®-hexa)

1 injection (Synflorix®)

15 months

Haemophilus influenzae type b
1 injection (Hiberix®)

1 injection (Priorix®)

1 injection (Synflorix®)

Varicella (Chickenpox)
1 injection  (Varilrix®)

4 years

1 injection (Infanrix-IPV)

1 injection (Priorix®)

11 or 12 years

1 injection (Boostrix™)

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
2 injections (Gardasil® 9) given at least 6 months apart for those aged 14 and under
3 injections given over a 6-month period for those aged 15 and older

For more information about each disease and the vaccines that prevent them, head to the Ministry of Health website and follow the links. 

What is the National Immunisation Register?

In addition to the Immunisation Registers kept by ECE services and schools, the National Immunisation Register (NIR) is an electronic system that contains the immunisation details of all New Zealand children born after 2005. 

The NIR lets health professionals quickly and easily find out what vaccines a child has received (even if they’ve moved house or changed doctor). It aims to help improve immunisation rates and ensure children are vaccinated at the right time. 

To request your child’s immunisation information, just ask your doctor or contact your local District Health Board

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