Parents of all children who enrolled in an early childhood education service up to 31 December 2017 were required to provide evidence that their child was;
- fully immunised for their age, or
- on a recognised catch-up schedule, or
- unvaccinated because of a medical exemption, or
- unvaccinated because of the parents conscientious objection to vaccination.
Before 2018, unvaccinated children could enrol and attend NSW early childhood education services, but were not eligible for Commonwealth Child Care Benefits, Rebates or other family assistance payments.
Requirements from 1 January 2018
The Public Health Act 2010 (NSW) now requires that all children who enrol in an approved early childhood education service after 1 January 2018 must provide evidence in the approved form 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 education services. NSW Health has advised that children who were enrolled in an early childhood education service prior to 1 January 2018 (including those enrolled but not due to commence attending until after this date) are not subject to the new requirements so long as they continue to attend the same early childhood education service.
Evidence of immunisation
Parents must provide an approved form of evidence to enrol in an early childhood education service, such as an:
No other form of evidence is acceptable (ie the former Interim Vaccination Objection Form or Blue Book).
The approved form of evidence must be stored by the early childhood education service director in a secure location for 3 years, unless a child transfers to another early childhood education service.
Checks and consequences of non-compliance
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 ie 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 is responsible for any penalty action. Importantly for independent schools with an associated preschool or long day care service, there is a new offence with 50 penalty units for a principal (or a service director) who fails to comply with the regulations and an offence with 50 penalty units for a person who forges or falsifies a required certificate.
Further NSW Health support and information
An Immunisation Enrolment Toolkit for early childhood education and care services has been developed to support early childhood education and care services to comply with their legal responsibilities under the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW).
Further information on immunisation requirements for early childhood education services is available online from NSW Health.