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IMMUNISATION IN EARLY CHILDHOOD 

EDUCATION SERVICES

The following information relates to students enrolled in approved early childhood education services, such as preschools and long day care centres, operating under the National Early Childhood Education and Care Law and Regulations. Children enrolled in school-based Prep or Kindergarten minus 1 classes are not subject to these requirements (please refer to information for primary schools).

Background

Parents of all children who enrolled up to 31 December 2017 were required to provide the correct forms to the early childhood service – proving either that the child was fully immunised for their age or that they were on a recognised catch-up schedule or that they had a medical exemption or that their parents had a conscientious objection to vaccination. Until 31 December 2017, unvaccinated children could enrol in NSW early childhood education services, however these children were not eligible for Commonwealth Child Care Benefits or Rebates or other family assistance payments.

Requirements from 1 January 2018

Under changes to the Public Health Act 2010 no children can enrol in an approved early childhood service after 1 January 2018 unless approved forms are provided showing that the child is fully immunised for their age or  there is a medical reason not to be vaccinated, or the child is on a recognised catch-up schedule if the child has fallen behind with their vaccinations. Temporary extensions of 12 weeks after enrolment are available for Aboriginal children, those evacuated following a declared natural disaster and those in out of home care.

Unvaccinated children of parents with a conscientious objection to vaccination can no longer enrol in early childhood services. NSW Health has advised that children who were enrolled prior to 1 January 2018, including those enrolled but not due to commence attending an early childhood service until after this date, are not subject to the new requirements.

Parents must provide a copy of one or more of the following documents to enrol in an early childhood service:

No other form of documentation is acceptable (i.e. the former Interim Vaccination Objection Form or Blue Book).

The documents must be stored by the director in a secure location for 3 years, unless a child transfers to another child care service.

NSW Department of Education inspectors will continue to check, as part of routine regulatory activities, that each early childhood education service complies with public health provisions relating to record keeping – i.e. that the service has recorded the vaccination status of children at enrolment in an immunisation register template in the approved form. A register template is available for download from NSW Health.

NSW Health will be responsible for any prosecutorial action. Importantly for independent schools with an associated preschool or long day care service, there is a new offense with 50 penalty units for a principal (or a service director) who fails to comply with the regulations and an offense with 50 penalty units for a person who forges or falsifies a required certificate.

An Immunisation Enrolment Toolkit has been developed to support early childhood education and care services to comply with their legal responsibilities under the Public Health Act 2010.

 Further information on immunisation requirements for early childhood services is available online from NSW Health.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can parents access the AIR Immunisation History Statement?

Parents automatically receive their child’s AIR Immunisation History Statement in the mail after the child has completed their immunisation schedule (sometime after 4 years of age).

Parents may obtain a copy of their child's immunisation details at any time by:

 calling the AIR General Enquiries Line on 1800 653 809.


What if a child was vaccinated overseas?

Overseas immunisation records must not be accepted by early childhood services. The only acceptable record of complete immunisation is the AIR Immunisation History Statement – i.e. Australian certification. Vaccination records obtained overseas may be recorded by the early childhood service for your own information, but are insufficient on their own without AIR documentation to demonstrate compliance with the requirements.

An early childhood service may wish to provide information for parents of children vaccinated overseas about the implications of not having the required records and advise them to have their overseas vaccination records assessed by an Australian immunisation provider who will transfer the information to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). Parents can then request an AIR Immunisation History Statement, or contact the Australian Immunisation Register on 1800 653 809.

  • If an Immunisation History Statement, AIR Immunisation History Form or an AIR Immunisation Medical Exemption form is subsequently provided by the AIR and the parent gives this to the early childhood service, the child may then be enrolled.