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Immunisation

Plunket recommends immunising your baby for protection against 12 diseases. However, it is your choice whether or not to immunise your child.

About immunisation

Immunisation is recommended by the World Health Organization, the New Zealand Ministry of Health, and medical authorities. This is because the risk from the diseases is far greater than the very small risk from immunisation.

If enough people are immunised against diseases, the diseases can’t spread easily.

Immunisations are free to all children in New Zealand. They help protect against 12 serious diseases:

  1. Polio

  2. Hepatitis B,

  3. Diphtheria

  4. Tetanus

  5. Pertussis (whooping cough)

  6. Measles

  7. Mumps

  8. Rubella

  9. Haemophilus influenzae type b meningitis (Hib)

  10. Pneumococcal

  11. Human papillomavirus (HPV).

  12. Rotavirus 

In situations where your baby is at higher risk of tuberculosis (TB), immunisation against TB is offered.  Read more about the diseases we immunise against.

How immunisations work

These immunisations are injections. The baby’s immune system responds to immunisation in the same way it would if the baby came into contact with the disease, but without the serious effects of the actual disease.

These 12 diseases can have serious complications for babies, including death. They can spread from older friends and family/whānau. Immunising children and adults has prevented a lot of these diseases, so not many people these days have seen their devastating effects. Preventable diseases still put around 150 pre-schoolers in hospital each year.

When to immunise

Immunisation starts at 6 weeks because it is shown to be safe and effective. Early protection is important because the younger the baby, usually the more serious the disease.

Immunisations are usually given when your baby is 6 weeks old, then at 3, 5 and 15 months, and at 4 years. Having all the immunisations is important for the best chance of strong protection. If your baby misses a dose, you can still catch up.

Plunket staff talk with parents and caregivers about immunisation, and the potential health risks for children if they are not immunised.

The immunisation day and side effects

Here are some suggestions for immunisation day:

  • Book your appointment during the day, before you’re both tired.

  • Plan a calm day.

  • Breastfeed your baby to reduce any pain.

  • Distract and comfort your baby by touching soothingly, talking softly and making eye contact.

  • A cool, wet cloth can help reduce soreness where the immunisation was given.

  • Observe your baby for the next few days.

  • Weakened rotavirus may be found in baby’s poos for 28 days after the first immunisation and 15 days after the second and third, so wash your hands thoroughly after changing nappies. 
  • If your child has any reaction that worries you, call your doctor or practice nurse.

  • Make your next appointment and mark it on your calendar so you know when it’s due.

  • If your child has any reaction that worries you, call your doctor or practice nurse.

Serious reactions to immunisations are rare. The injection site may become swollen and red. You may feel a lump under the skin which can take several days or weeks to go. Cooling the area with a cold flannel helps the swelling and redness. The injections can make your baby unsettled or sleepy.

Talk to your doctor or nurse about ways to manage this or if you’re worried.

More information

More information on immunisation is available from Plunket, your doctor, local public health service/unit or from the immunisation free phone 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863).

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