What are the changes to the new NSW Immunisation Schedule from 1 April 2016?
The main immunisation schedule changes include the:
- Introduction of an 18-month diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTPa) booster vaccine for all children born from 1 October 2014;
- Inclusion of influenza vaccine for Aboriginal children aged 6 months to <5 years;
- Introduction of Zostavax® vaccine for people aged 70 years (commences in November 2016), and;
- Removal of the catch-up measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine dose two at 3 ½ to 4 years as all children now receive MMR vaccine at 12 months (dose 1) and measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV) at 18 months (dose 2 MMR).
- Removal of the 3½ year schedule point (now fixed at 4 years of age).
Frequently asked questions about the 18-month DTPa dose
Who is eligible to receive the 18-month DTPa booster dose?
Children born from 1 October 2014 are eligible to receive the 18-month DTPa booster dose.
Should children born before 1 October 2014 be offered a catch-up DTPa booster dose?
No. There is no catch-up for children born before 1 October 2014. Parents with children born before 1 October 2014 (and who are less than 3½ years of age) should be given a prescription to obtain the DTPa vaccine for their child. Children who are 3½ years and older should only be given the 4 year old DTPa booster at 4 years of age.
A fax was transmitted to GPs on 4 March 2016 advising that DTPa vaccine was available to order. As the fax was transmitted in early March, children born in September 2014 were 18 months old at that time and therefore eligible to receive free DTPa vaccine, however as there is no catch-up component to this schedule change, there is no need to actively contact children born between 1 September 2014 and 1 October 2014.
The Australian Government recently distributed communication materials regarding the 18-month dose schedule change, which included a poster sized National Immunisation Program schedule. As the schedule date was February 2016 on the poster, it has been queried if children born from August 2014 (i.e. they turned 18 months in February 2016) are eligible for DTPa vaccine. The answer is no as the NSW program did not commence until March 2016.
If a child presents before they are 18 months old, should they receive the 18 month vaccinations a little early to ensure they are protected?
No. The 18-month DTPa vaccine must be given after the child has turned 18 months of age.
Is there a cut off age for giving the 18-month DTPa vaccine (too early or late)?
The 18-month dose must not be given earlier than 18 months of age. There is no cut off for the 18-month dose being given later as it would be given as a catch-up dose if it is administered later than 19-months of age (as child is considered overdue at 19-months of age by the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register). There must be a minimum interval of six months between DTPa doses 3 and 4 and DTPa doses 4 and 5.
Which vaccines should be used for the 18-month DTPa booster dose and can they be ordered now?
Infanrix® or Tripacel® vaccines can be ordered now via the online vaccine ordering system. You should call the NSW Vaccine Centre on 1300 656 132 if you have not already registered for vaccine online ordering.
What if a child is inadvertently given Boostrix® vaccine for their 18-month DTPa booster?
Revaccination is not required. The child should receive their next DTPa booster (given as Infanrix-IPV®) at 4 years of age.
When will children be regarded as due/overdue on ACIR?
The Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR) will regard children born from 1 October 2014 as due for the DTPa vaccination at 18 months (from April 2016) and overdue at 19 months (from May 2016).
Is the 18-month DTPa vaccine required for child care benefits and family assistance payments?
Yes. Children born from 1 October 2014 will require DTPa vaccine for their child care benefits and family assistance payments.
In planning catch-up for older children as part of the Commonwealth Government’s ‘No Jab No Pay’ initiative, should the 18-month DTPa dose be included and how many doses should a person receive?
The Australian Childhood Immunisation (ACIR) due and overdue rules for the 18 month booster dose will only apply to children born 1 October 2014 onwards. According to the ACIR rules, these children will be due for their 18 month booster dose on 1 April 2016, and will become overdue on 1 May 2016 if the vaccination has not been given (this will affect their payments).
To support catch-up vaccination of these children, a table has been developed with various scenarios.
Where can I find more information?
Please visit the Australian Government’s website at www.immunise.health.gov.au or the NSW Health website at www.health.nsw.gov.au/immunisation/. Or, call your local public health unit on 1300 066 055.
Frequently asked questions regarding the new NSW Immunisation Schedule
Has rotavirus vaccine scheduling changed as the schedule I received in the mail from the Australian Government recommends it is given at 2, 4 and 6 months?
No. The Australian Government schedule you received in the mail is a generic schedule for all states and territories which includes the use of RotaTeq® vaccine which is given at 2, 4 and 6 months of age. In NSW, Rotarix® vaccine is provided which is recommended at 6 weeks and 4 months of age.
When will Zostavax® vaccine be introduced?
Zostavax® vaccine will be introduced in November 2016.
Why has the MMR vaccine dose two at 3.5 to 4 years been removed?
The NSW Immunisation Schedule was previously updated in July 2013 to include MMRV vaccine at 18 months, but also included a catch-up component for children older than 18 months to receive their dose two MMR vaccine at 3½ to 4 years. As all children born from 1 July 2013 are now aged over 18 months, there is no requirement to include the MMR catch-up component at 3½ to 4 years.
All children should receive dose one of MMR vaccine at 12 months (Priorix® or MMR II®) and dose two at 18 months in combination with varicella given as MMRV (Priorix Tetra® or Proquad®).