Immunisation information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Acknowledgement of Country
SESLHD Public Health Unit acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the traditional custodians of Country throughout Australia. We acknowledge the lands we work and provide care for as Dharawal, Gadigal, Wangal, Gweagal and Bidjigal.
We pay our respects to Elders of the past, present and future generations and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
An Aboriginal Health Worker works in the Immunisation Team to support vaccinations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People across South Eastern Sydney. Our team are committed to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health with shared knowledge, care and providing culturally appropriate services.
This webpage provides information about important vaccinations that are available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families and communities.
The artwork above, completed by Sharon Brown in collaboration with all the staff who work at the South Eastern Sydney Public Health Unit, represents the diversity of people who all meet together to share knowledge and that knowledge flowing out to surrounding communities. It was inspired by the Public Health Unit's appreciation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and their hard work and contribution towards improving health, especially for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Keep our mob protected – get your family vaccinated against the FLU and keep up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations
Your best protection against serious diseases like COVID-19 and the FLU is to get vaccinated, and you can get both vaccines at the same time. Keep our mob safe and get vaccinated at your local doctor, AMS or chemist. For more information please talk to your doctor or Aboriginal health worker.
What is Immunisation and why is it important for you?
What is immunisation?
- Immunisation is when you use vaccines, that are safe and helpful way of protecting you against serious and harmful diseases
- It helps your body to build immunity to fight off and prevent catching serious and harmful diseases
Why is it important for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people?
- Vaccinations are important in keeping our mob healthy and strong especially if you have other health conditions
- Vaccinating on time can help prevent catching an infectious disease and spreading the disease, which might develop into serious health problems
The Aboriginal Health Worker works in the Immunisation Team to support vaccinations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across South Eastern Sydney. They will provide you with information on important vaccinations for you and your family. They also work with other health professionals help improve immunisation rates and help our mob receive their vaccinations on time.
It’s important to stay on track with your immunisations to provide the best protection against harmful diseases. Keeping up to date with vaccinations and having a record of your vaccinations is also important to enrol your children into preschool/childcare, travelling overseas and working or studying in health roles.
Refer to this NSW Aboriginal Immunisation brochure for more information about staying on track with your immunisations.
- When you identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander with Medicare, it can help some health services to provide you with additional care. For more information click here.
- For more information on how to register with Medicare click here.
- To link Medicare with MyGov and print your Immunisation Statement click here.
- To register your newborn baby with Medicare click here.
- To update your details so your whole family is covered with Medicare click here.
All health staff should ask the question: Do you identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and/or both? That health service should then make sure they have recorded the information correctly to ensure culturally appropriate service is provided. If you answer yes, the information also helps to try assist with closing the gap in health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
1. NSW immunisation Schedule – free vaccinations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
The NSW Immunisation Schedule lists all the vaccinations that are free at each age for everyone and additional vaccines for Aboriginal people. You will need to visit your local doctor, AMS or health services to receive these vaccinations on time and for them to be recorded onto the AIR (Australian Immunisation Register).
Click here for more information on vaccine preventable diseases.
2. Free vaccinations for high school students
HPV: HPV is a common virus that causes almost all cervical cancer and genital warts. This vaccine protects against 9 types of HPV. Click here to watch a short video about HPV vaccination.
dTpa: is a vaccination to boost protection against 3 serious diseases which can affect young adults – diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus. Click here to watch short video about the DTPA vaccination.
MenACWY: this vaccination provides protection against 4 different types (A, C, W, and Y) of meningococcal bacteria that can cause meningitis and blood poisoning. Click here to watch a short video about MenACWY vaccination.
3. Government immunisation policies
No Jab No Pay - The Australian Government introduced this policy to ensure all children are fully immunised. If your child's vaccinations are not up to date or completed on time, your Centrelink payments could be withheld or reduced. Click here for more information.
Childcare enrolment - In NSW all children must be up to date with vaccinations to be enrolled in childcare. If your child is on a catch-up schedule, the doctor must complete a form and the child will have to receive their vaccinations within that timeframe. Click here for more information.
Primary and high school enrolment - All schools will ask for a copy of your child's immunisation history statement when you are enrolling into primary or high school. This is important for all schools, in case of an outbreak of disease in the school to protect all students. Click here for more information.
4. Catch up vaccinations
Catch up vaccinations are available for all age groups. If you did not receive all your vaccinations as a child or don’t have any proof of which vaccinations you received as a child you can receive catch up vaccinations free up to your 20th birthday.
If your child is late for childhood vaccinations you can organise with your doctor to have your child put on a catch-up schedule.
Click here for more information
1. Influenza (FLU) vaccine
Influenza, normally known as the ‘flu’, can be a serious disease and can become life-threatening. All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from 6 months of age should receive an annual flu shot to protect your mob (family) and communities. The flu vaccine is free for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Click here to know more about Influenza information for Aboriginal people.
2. Free vaccinations during pregnancy
Vaccination during pregnancy is the best way to protect mum and bub from two serious life-threatening diseases:
- Flu (Influenza) vaccination: pregnant mums can receive the free influenza vaccination anytime during pregnancy, to protect mum and bub against the flu and other serious side effects of the disease.
- Whooping cough (dTpa) vaccination: this vaccination should be given to all pregnant mums after 20 weeks of pregnancy, to provide protection to mum and bub against whooping cough. This will protect bub during the first 6 weeks – 2 months of life until they receive their first vaccinations.
- COVID-19 can also be a serious disease during pregnancy. If you haven’t had at least 3 doses of COVID-19 vaccine please have a yarn with your doctor or midwife
See this brochure for more information about vaccination in pregnancy.
3. Childhood vaccinations
Free childhood vaccinations are offered to babies from birth until 4 years of age to protect them against serious illnesses and diseases. The National Immunisation Program -Childhood vaccination brochure explains more about FREE important vaccinations available for your bub.
It is important all children receive these vaccinations on time to provide the best protection from getting these diseases and developing serious health problems.
For more information about on time vaccinations for childhood immunisation click here
4. Additional peumococcal disease vaccinations
This vaccination will provide protection against bacteria that cause infection in your blood, pneumonia, middle ear infection (otitis media) and meningitis.
Pneumococcal vaccine is available for free for these groups:
- Aboriginal people aged 50 years and over
- a dose of Prevenar 13
- 2-12 months later – a dose of Pneumovax 23
- At least 5 years later – another dose of Pneumovax 23
- Children and adults diagnosed with an at risk condition after 12 months of age now receive:
- At diagnosis – a dose of Prevenar 13
- 2-12 months later or at 4 years of age (whichever is later) – a dose of Pneumovax 23
- At least 5 years later – another dose of Pneumovax 23.
- In addition to the routine childhood schedule (6 weeks, 4 months and 12 months) children who are diagnosed with an at risk condition, when younger than 12 months of age are recommended to receive:
- 6 Months – an additional dose of Prevenar 13
- 4 years – a dose of Pneumovax 23
- At least 5 years later – another dose of Pneumovax 23.
More information about Pneumococcal vaccination here
COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that can make you very sick. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can be at a higher risk of catching this virus because it can spread easily between family members. It can be a very serious for some people – especially people with other health conditions.
The COVID-19 vaccination and boosters help keep our mob safe. Everyone aged 5 years and over can get vaccinated. Staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations provides the best way of protecting your families.
6. Meningococcal B vaccinations
This vaccination will provide protection against bacteria that cause serious infections in your brain (meningitis) and blood (septicaemia).
- Bexsero (meningococcal B vaccine) is provided free for all Aboriginal children at 6 weeks, 4 months and 12 months of age.
- Aboriginal children can receive catch up doses of Bexsero until they turn 2.
- There is an increased risk of fever associated with Bexsero in children less than 2 years of age. These children are therefore recommended to receive paracetamol with each dose of Bexsero. Paracetamol should be given as follows:
- Give first dose (15 mg/kg/dose) of paracetamol within 30 minutes before, or as soon as practicable after, receiving the vaccine, regardless of whether the child has a fever.
- This can be followed by 2 more doses of paracetamol given 6 hours apart.
Click here for more information about the Meningococcal B vaccination.
7. Common side effect and reactions after vaccinations:
All vaccines used in Australia are safe, however, some people may experience minor common side effects after vaccinations. These types of reactions are considered ‘normal’ and will go away in a day or two:
- Pain, slight swelling or redness where you received the needle
- Mild fever
Serious allergic reactions can occur, and usually happen within 15 minutes after vaccination so it’s best to stay at the doctor’s for 15 minutes after vaccinations so if an allergic reaction occurs it can be rapidly treated.
More information about Following vaccinations - what to expect and what to do and possible vaccination side effects.
- My GOV account
- Australian Government - services Australia - what are the immunisation requirements
- NSW Health – Immunisation program
- NSW Childcare immunisation requirements
- NSW Health - On time childhood vaccination
- Immunisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- Why get immunised?
- NCIRS (National Centre for Immunisation research and surveillance)
- Immunisation handbook (for Doctors/Health Professionals)
- SKAI - Sharing Knowledge about Immunisation
- Childhood immunisation resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people