Information for Childcare Centres
It is common for young children to pick up infections. Young children are still building up immunity and are more likely to be susceptible to many different infections. They are also less able to attend to personal hygiene, and they live and play very closely together, increasing the potential for infection to spread. The Public Health Unit provides advice and support to early childhood facilities to help limit the spread of infections and respond to outbreaks. For further information on childhood infectious diseases, please refer to the 5th edition of Staying healthy – Preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services.
The Public Health Unit is happy to provide advice for a range of infectious diseases or environmental concerns, however it is also important to understand that certain diseases must be notified under the Public Health Act. Examples of conditions that must be notified are gastro outbreaks, and cases of pertussis, measles, mumps, and rubella. Click here for a full list of notifiable diseases in NSW.
In accordance with the NSW Public Health Act, directors of childcare centres must notify their Public Health Unit by phone as soon as possible if they suspect or are aware that an enrolled child has one of the following diseases:
- Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib)
- Meningococcal disease
- Pertussis (whooping cough)
- Rubella (German measles)
Directors of Child Care Centres are also encouraged to seek advice from their local Public Health Unit when they suspect an infectious disease outbreak is affecting their school or centre, such as outbreaks of a gastrointestinal or respiratory illness.
If you suspect there is an infectious disease outbreak at your centre, you should contact your Public Health Unit as soon as possible. To contact the South Eastern Sydney Public Health Unit, phone (02) 9382 8333 during business hours. For after hours, phone (02) 9382 2222 and ask for the Public Health Officer on call. The Public Health Unit will provide you with information and assistance throughout the outbreak.
Once you have notified the Public Health Unit, you will be instructed to send a line list at the start of the outbreak, and will be advised on when to send updated line lists throughout the outbreak. A line list is a document containing information on the number of staff and children enrolled at the centre, and information regarding those who are ill.
You will also be advised on the collection of samples for testing and to increase infection control measures such as:
- Personal protective measures (eg. hand hygiene)
- The exclusion of infected children and/or staff
- The closure of potentially infected rooms
- Thorough cleaning of potentially infected surfaces
Childcare workers are strongly recommended to be vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough (pertussis), diphtheria, tetanus, chickenpox (varicella), hepatitis A, and influenza. If workers are not vaccinated or immune (by previously having the disease), they could potentially catch a serious illness and pass it on to the children in their centre who are unable to be vaccinated due to age or medical reasons.
For more information, refer to the Vaccination of staff working in early childhood services page on the NSW Health website.
Changes to childcare enrolment policies came into effect on 1 January 2018, however these changes do not affect children enrolled before 1 January 2018. Children can only be enrolled at an approved childcare provider if their parent or guardian has provided an approved immunisation form that demonstrates their child:
- Is fully immunised for their age based on the NSW Immunisation Schedule, OR
- Has a medical reason for not being vaccinated, OR
- Is on a recognised catch-up schedule as the child has fallen behind in their vaccinations
Children cannot be enrolled if they have not been vaccinated due to the conscientious objection of their parent or guardian.
For more information, visit:
Below are links to agencies and other organisations that contain useful information:
- Childcare and pre-school entry and immunisation brochure (multiple languages)
- Immunisation Enrolment Toolkit
- Questions and answers about vaccination requirements for childcare
- Strengthening vaccination requirements for childcare
Infectious disease information for childcare centres
- Staying healthy: Preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services (5th edition)
- Gastro pack for childcare centres
- A-Z infectious disease factsheets
- Gastroenteritis - controlling viral outbreaks
Disease notification and exclusion