Every day, immunisation saves lives by reducing the spread of disease.
protects people who have been immunised. It also protects those in the community who may be unable to receive immunisation themselves.
Many vaccines are provided free of charge to Australian secondary school students under the National Immunisation Program
. Immunisation is most commonly given to students through council visits to secondary schools. Parents must return a card to the school providing or refusing their consent.
Immunisation for secondary school students is important
Immunisation is a proven and safe way to protect against diseases that cause serious illness and sometimes death.
The protection provided by some childhood immunisations fades over time and needs to be boosted in adolescence. Secondary school students are at an age when a vaccine will be most effective and provide protection before possible exposure to a disease.
Parental consent for immunisation
In Victoria, an information and consent form is provided by local councils to all secondary schools. Students must take the form home and have it completed and signed by their parent or guardian. The completed consent section must be returned to the school before the student can receive immunisation.
The form contains information about:
- the vaccines
- the diseases they protect against
- possible side effects
- the circumstances in which someone should not have the vaccines (known as ‘contraindications’).
Parents can say no to the offer of free, school-based immunisation for children in their care under the age of 18. If they do so, the consent section of the form still needs to be returned (marked as 'declined'). This is so authorities can collect data on immunisation coverage.
Immunisation nurses provide the vaccines
Local councils work with secondary schools to arrange for immunisation nurses to be at the school on a particular day. Nurses inject the vaccines into the muscle of the upper part of the student's non-writing arm.
On the day that students are receiving immunisation, it's recommended that they eat a good breakfast and wear clothing that provides easy access to their upper arm.
Students can watch the 'School immunisation' video to see how other students feel about getting immunised.
Victorian Immunisation Schedule for secondary school students
Some vaccines are routinely provided free of charge to all Victorian secondary school students under the National Immunisation Program.
Reactions to immunisation
Some secondary school students faint after immunisation. If a child is known to faint or be very anxious, it may be better for them to be vaccinated with the GP rather than at school.
Some people may experience a reaction to a vaccine. There is a very small risk of a serious allergic reaction to any vaccine. This is why it is important to stay at the school or clinic where the immunisation was given for at least 15 minutes after being immunised.
If reactions do occur, they are usually mild and occur shortly after immunisation. Reactions may last up to two days. If you are concerned about any reaction to the vaccine, contact your council, doctor or hospital.
Concerns about immunisation side effects
If a side effect following immunisation is unexpected, persistent or severe, or if you are worried about yourself or your child's condition after immunisation, see your doctor or immunisation nurse as soon as possible, or go directly to a hospital.
It is important to seek medical advice if you (or your child) are unwell, as this may be due to other illness rather than because of the immunisation.
Immunisation side effects may be reported to the Victorian vaccine safety service, the central reporting service in Victoria, on 1300 882 924 (select option one). You can discuss with your immunisation provider how to report adverse events in other states or territories.
When a vaccine at school is missed
If a school-based immunisation is missed for any reason, secondary school students can visit their local council immunisation service or a doctor to receive the missed vaccine. This should be done as soon as possible.
If the missed dose is part of a course of vaccines and is given soon after the missed school session, the rest of the course can often be finished as part of the school-based program.
Some vaccines may need to be ordered in advance, so let your doctor know which immunisation you are wanting when you arrange the appointment. Although the vaccines themselves are free, your doctor may charge a consultation fee.
When students don't attend a mainstream secondary school
Teenagers who do not attend mainstream schools are also encouraged to receive these immunisations. See your GP or local council immunisation service.
Other available immunisations for secondary school students
Other immunisations are available for students depending on their health, age, lifestyle or occupation (HALO). Doctors can provide advice on catching up on any early childhood immunisations that may have been missed, or any other immunisations that may be needed.
You can check your immunisation HALO using the Immunisation for Life infographic.
Where to get help
This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:
Department of Health and Human Services - RHP&R - Health Protection - Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Unit
Content on this website is provided for information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not in any way endorse or support such therapy, service, product or treatment and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. The information and materials contained on this website are not intended to constitute a comprehensive guide concerning all aspects of the therapy, product or treatment described on the website. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions and to ascertain whether the particular therapy, service, product or treatment described on the website is suitable in their circumstances. The State of Victoria and the Department of Health & Human Services shall not bear any liability for reliance by any user on the materials contained on this website.