What immunisations should you get?

Immunisation is one of the best ways to protect your child against many serious and preventable diseases. The National Immunisation Schedule for New Zealand is a list of recommended vaccines that are provided free to your child starting from 6 weeks old, right up to 12 years of age.1 Immunisation against the flu in children is an additional vaccine you can opt to have. By making sure you're up to date with routine vaccinations, you can protect both you and your children, as well as any newborn babies and vulnerable people you come into contact with.

Why do you need them?

Immunisation is a simple and effective way to avoid the flu and other diseases that can make you seriously ill.

Some people think of the flu as a bad cold, but it's much more serious – it causes thousands of hospitalisations every year.

When enough of us are immunised, we can reach herd immunity. This means most of us become immune to the disease that we have been vaccinated against or have a smaller chance of becoming infected. Herd immunity is important for preventing the spread of disease in the community and for protecting those who are unable to receive the vaccine for some reason.

When do you need to get them?

The National Immunisation Schedule tells you which diseases your child should be immunised against and at what age they should be immunised. It’s important they are done on time, every time for the best possible protection. The flu shot is recommended annually for everyone starting from 6 months of age.2 For some children who have certain medical conditions that put them at greater risk, they may be able to get the flu shot for free.

The flu season hits us each year between May and September. This is a time where more virus is active in the community, so the best time to get your flu shot is from April 1st before the flu season starts.2

If you catch the flu, you can still benefit from receiving the vaccine. This is because vaccines work by stimulating your immune system to produce molecules called antibodies, which specialise in fighting an infection. So the next time your body comes into contact with the flu virus, your body will have a high enough level of antibodies ready to respond and prevent you from developing the disease.

How often do they need to be updated?

Annual flu vaccinations are recommended to maintain immunity and protect against new strains of the flu but be sure to speak to your doctor about when to receive your flu shot, as the flu season can vary from year to year.

What if immunisation leads to fever?

After an immunisation, some children develop a mild fever. It doesn't mean they're sick, but it shows that their immune system is learning how to recognise and destroy the virus or bacteria they were immunised against.

You can help your child by keeping them cool with a single layer of clothing and by making sure their room is not too hot or cold. Remember to encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids and if the fever is making your child uncomfortable, paracetamol or ibuprofen can be given. Nurofen for Children contains ibuprofen and can be given to children from the age of 3 months to help reduce fever for up to 8 hours.3 If your child is very unwell or you are worried, be sure to check with your doctor.

Although immunisation can't help protect us from colds, modern science does help protect our children from many distressing and serious diseases. Keeping up to date with immunisations helps our families stay healthy during the cooler months – and all year round.