On September 14 2017 the NSW Parliament agreed to amend the Public Health Act 2010 regarding the responsibilities of early childhood education and care directors and school principals.

From 1 January 2018 a principal of a child care facility must not enrol a child, in childcare or preschool unless they first obtain a vaccination certificate or medical certificate demonstrating that the child is:

  • fully vaccinated for their age, or
  • have a certified medical exemption, or
  • be on a certified catch-up schedule.

A vaccination certificate or medical certificate is not required when enrolling children in out of home care, children under a guardianship order, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, a child being cared for by an adult who is not the child’s parent due to exceptional circumstances such as illness or incapacity, and children affected by a state of emergency. However, if such a child is enrolled, the director must take all reasonable steps to obtain the vaccination certificate or medical certificate within 12 weeks.

A penalty of up to $5,500 per incident applies if the director enrols a child, or permits the child to enrol, without first obtaining a vaccination certificate or medical certificate.

A penalty of up to $5,500 per incident applies to anyone forging or falsifying a vaccination certificate or medical certificate.

Why have these changes been made?

These changes bring NSW into line with the Australian Government “No Jab, No Pay” initiative that remove childcare benefits from families whose children are unvaccinated due to the beliefs of the parents, and the Victorian Government “No Jab, No Play” requirements that prevent such children from enrolling in childcare, reinforcing to the community the importance of timely and complete childhood vaccination.

Public Health Act requirements extended to secondary schools

From 1 April 2018:

  • students enrolling in secondary school will be asked to provide a vaccination certificate
  • during a vaccine preventable disease outbreak, secondary school students who are unvaccinated can be excluded from school, even during examination periods

Vaccination certificates are available through Medicare online accounts, by visiting a local Medicare office, or by emailing acir@medicareaustralia.gov.au.

Why have these changes been made?

These changes remove the difference between primary school and secondary schools in respect to vaccine preventable disease control. When the school enrolment requirements were first included in the Public Health Act the Australian Immunisation Register only contained records of children up to 7 years of age, meaning it was difficult for parents to obtain a vaccination certificate to enrol in secondary school. The Australian Immunisation Register now includes records for people of all ages. By having access to vaccination certificates for all children enrolled in secondary school, public health officers can rapidly identify children at risk of serious vaccine preventable diseases, such as measles, and implement measures to control outbreaks, including (in rare instances) temporary exclusion of unvaccinated children.

Page Updated: Monday 4 December 2017