Immunise for life

Canterbury District Health Board

You wouldn’t forgot their first steps ... Don’t forget their immunisation milestones!

Send me my child's immunisation milestones

Early Childhood

6 weeks, 3 months, 5 months,
15 months and 4 years

There are a number of serious vaccine preventable diseases that can harm or even be fatal for babies. Make sure you protect your baby by having them immunisedon timeto ensure a healthy start.  These immunisations are free through your general practice team.

In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health recommends that you have your child immunised according to the National Immunisation Schedule.  Vaccinations are scheduled for:    

Getting age appropriate vaccinations on time helps reduce the chance of infections being passed onto young babies who may not have had all of their immunisations, or other children who cannot be immunised because of medical conditions.

Your child can be excluded from school or pre-school in the event of a disease outbreak if they are not fully immunised. 

Helpful Hints for new parents

Immunisations are usually given by the practice nurse, but the doctor often likes to meet the new baby, so don't be surprised if you see them both at the 6 week event.   This is part of the wider general practice team developing an understanding of you and your family's changing needs.

Take your child'sWell Child Tamariki Orahealth book with you every time you go for their vaccinations. The practice nurse will record the details in it for you to keep. This record will be asked for when they have their B4 School check and when they enrol at school.

 If you are bringing other children along, or are getting more than one child vaccinated at the same time, let the practice nurse know and they will do all they can to make the visit less stressful.


Frequently Asked Questions

QHow does immunisation work?

Vaccines work by causing the body's immune system to make protective cells and antibodies. Vaccines contain small parts of the bacteria or virus or a weakened form such that that they can no longer cause the disease. If your child comes in contact with one of the diseases they have been immunised against, existing antibodies will be there to protect them and their body will be able to produce more antibodies quickly.

QAre there any side effects from immunisation?

Some, but not all babies and children may have side effects from their injections. However, serious side effects such as anaphylaxis (an extreme allergic reaction) are very rare and for most vaccines, occur once in around 1 million doses.

Your baby may develop:

  • Redness, swelling or tenderness at the site of the injection
  • Be generally irritable and unwell
  • Develop a high temperature

Please remember that the most common side effects listed above are a normal part of the body's immune response and pose a far lower risk to your child than the actual disease.

If you have any concerns it is important that you contact your general practice team or local medical centre to discuss.

QHow is my baby immunised?

A suitably qualified health professional will inject the vaccine into the muscle in your baby's thigh. Children over 12 months will be injected in their upper arm. The good thing is that children will build immunity against six diseases following each of their first three immunisations at six weeks, three months and five months. It is very important that each child has all three immunisations, each consisting of two separate injections.

QWhy do babies get immunised three times for the same thing?

Most immunisations require multiple doses to build up the immunity levels required to give your baby the best possible protection against disease.

QWhat happens if my baby misses an injection?

It is best to immunise on time but it is never too late to have your baby immunised, even if they are older than the recommended age. Talk to your general practice team or your Plunket/Tamariki Ora nurse to discuss, or make an appointment to continue or start the immunisation schedule.

QWhy do you need to have booster doses?

Immunity to diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio can reduce over time and therefore a top up is important to boost your child's level of disease fighting antibodies and help keep them protected.

QWhat is Diptheria?

While diphtheria is no longer circulating in New Zealand, it is important to continue immunising against it until it has been totally irradicated throughout the world. Diphtheria is serious. It generally begins with a sore throat and can cause breathing problems, damage the heart and nervous system and in some cases cause death.

QWhat is Tetanus?

Tetanus is caused by a bacterium that commonly occurs in the soil. They get into the body through cuts and burns. It is a disease that affects the nervous system and can lead to muscle spasms and partial paralysis.

QWhat is Whooping Cough?

Babies under the age of one year are at the highest risk of contracting Whooping Cough (pertussis). In babies the disease can be very serious, even fatal. Symptoms include coughing and choking leading to breathing difficulties.

QWhat is Polio?

Like diphtheria, polio is no longer circulating in New Zealand but immunisation continues as a safeguard against infection brought in from other parts of the world. Polio is a disease that attacks the nervous system, can cause permanent paralysis of muscles and can be potentially fatal.

QWhat is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver. It is spread via infected blood and body fluids getting into cuts and sores, or through sexual contact. Most often hepatitis B isn't serious in young children, however the younger they are infected, the more likely they are to become a carrier of the disease and suffer from more serious liver disease such as cirrhosis in the long-term.

QWhat is Pneumococcal disease?

Pneumococcal bacteria (Streptococcal pneumoniae) can cause meningitis, blood poisoning (septicaemia) and pneumonia. It can also cause ear infections.

QWhat is Meningitis?

Meningtitis is an infection of the protective membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord. It can be caused by several types of bacteria or virus. It comes on very quickly and is potentially life threatening and so it is really important to be aware of the symptoms. Early symptoms are flu like - cold, fever, vomiting, restlessness, a stiff neck and intolerance of bright light or loud noises. Sometimes a characteristic rash that doesn't fade when pressed beneath a clear drinking glass may be seen.

QWhat is HIB (Haemophilus Influenzae type b)?

Hib disease is a bacterial infection that can cause a number of serious and potentially fatal complications such as blood poisoning, pneumonia and meningitis if not treated quickly. Children under five are most at risk.