How do I find out which vaccinations I need for travel?

If you are planning on travelling to certain countries then you may need to immunise yourself against a number of diseases. Some countries need  to see proof of certain vaccinations before they will allow you to enter.

Your doctor or a travel specialist can tell you which vaccinations you might need. Try to see them at least six to eight weeks before you leave the country, so that your body has time to recover from any side effects from the vaccinations, and to give time for the vaccinations to start working. A list of vaccination requirements for travellers is available on the MD Travel Health website.
It’s a good idea to also ensure that you are up to date with your normal immunisations e.g. for tetanus, measles, polio, and get a dental check-up before you go. You can find more information about health and travelling at the Safe Travel website.

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Is it safe for my child to receive vaccinations?

Immunisation can protect people against harmful infections, which can cause serious illness, including death. Being immunised not only reduces a child’s chance of getting a disease, it will also help stop the spread of disease in the community. The vaccinations used in New Zealand have met safety levels set by the Ministry of Health and are expected to protect 80-95% of the children who are immunised. The national and international scientific consensus is that immunisation is one of the most cost-effective means of preventing disease and improving health.

But immunisation may not be advisable if your child

  • is having certain medical treatments
  • has a serious disease or lives with someone with a severe disease
  • has an immune system that is not working properly
  • has had severe allergic reactions to immunisations before, or has recently had other vaccinations or blood treatments.

If you have any concerns you should speak to your doctor or call the Immunisation Advisory Centre on 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863). Their website has more information about the various vaccines.

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Is my child eligible for free immunisations if I’m not a permanent resident or citizen?

All children are eligible for publicly funded vaccinations on the Immunisation Schedule, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status. (The Immunisation Schedule is a series of vaccines which are free to children aged from 6 weeks.)

If you and your family are migrants or refugees, you’ll need to get an assessment of your documented vaccination status (i.e. what vaccinations you have already had). This will be taken into consideration when deciding what further vaccinations should be given in New Zealand.

More information about immunisation for immigrant and refugee children is on the Ministry of Health website.

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Who is eligible for free flu jabs?

You can get the influenza vaccine if you:

  • Are pregnant
  • Regularly use asthma medication
  • Have diabetes, heart disease, cancer or other serious medical condition
  • Are aged 65 years or over
  • Are a child under the age of five years, who has been in hospital for a respiratory illness or has a  history of respiratory illness

You might also be able to get vaccinated for free if your employer has a free vaccination programme for employees.

If you aren’t able to get a free influenza vaccination, you could consider paying to be vaccinated. Influenza can strike anyone including fit and healthy people and at the very least could render you unable to work for a few weeks.

More information about flu jabs is on the National Influenza Specialist Group’s Fight Flu website.