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Infant Vaccination: Protecting Your Baby Against Serious Diseases

As a parent, ensuring the optimal health and safety of your baby is a top priority. Understanding the significance of infant vaccination is critical in this regard, as it is the most effective approach to safeguard your little one from potentially life-threatening illnesses. In this article, we will delve into this important aspect, highlighting the reasons why it is essential to prioritise your child's health and well-being through vaccination.

What is Infant Vaccination?

Infant vaccination refers to a sequence of immunisations administered to newborns, aimed at shielding them from serious diseases that could significantly compromise their health and well-being. It plays a vital role in safeguarding your child's health through the prevention of severe and life-threatening illnesses that could harm their well-being and growth.2,3


How do vaccines protect your child from disease?

Most vaccinations contain weakened or dead strains of the specific germ or their components. This stimulates their immune system to produce a response, including the production of antibodies that can recognise and fight off the actual disease. By getting vaccinated, you are helping to build your child's immunity, providing them with a powerful immune system that can recognise and effectively combat specific diseases, keeping them healthy and protected.2-4


Infant vaccine-preventable diseases

Vaccination is vital for community health. When infants are vaccinated, they contribute to herd immunity, which means that there are fewer opportunities for the disease to spread within the population. This helps protect individuals who are unable to receive vaccines due to medical reasons or are at a higher risk of developing severe symptoms.5


Common Infant Vaccines

Vaccines are recommended for infants to ensure they are protected from serious diseases. The National Immunisation Program provides routine childhood immunisations for all children in Australia, free of charge. Vaccinations included on the National Immunisation Program for infants under 12 months help to protect your child against: 6

  • Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis: Diphtheria can cause severe throat infections which can affect an infants breathing; tetanus (sometimes called lockjaw) can cause muscle stiffness and spasms; pertussis (whooping cough) can cause severe coughing and difficulty breathing.
  • Hepatitis B: A viral infection that can cause liver damage, and can sometimes lead to liver cancer later in life.
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b: A bacterial infection that can cause meningitis, pneumonia, and other serious illnesses.
  • Polio: A viral infection that can cause paralysis and even death in children. The virus primarily affects the nerves that control muscle movement, leading to muscle weakness and paralysis. In some cases, the virus can also affect the respiratory system, causing breathing difficulty.
  • Rotavirus: Rotavirus is a highly contagious virus that commonly affects infants and young children, causing severe diarrhoea and vomiting.
  • Pneumococcal disease: Pneumococcal disease is caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae and can lead to serious infections such as pneumonia, meningitis, and bloodstream infections in children.
  • Influenza: Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a viral respiratory infection that can cause fever, cough, body aches, and fatigue. Babies and children under 5 are more likely to get severe influenza.7

Some infants may need additional vaccines if they have underlying medical conditions or are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin.6

The vaccines listed above are given to infants aged under 12 months. From 12 months of age, additional vaccines for other diseases are needed.6


Childhood immunisation

It is important to give your child the recommended vaccines to keep them healthy and help them grow. Vaccines are a safe and effective way to prevent serious illnesses that can be harmful or even deadly. By making sure your child gets all their vaccines on schedule, you are not only protecting their health but also playing a part in keeping the whole community healthy.1-5


Baby that is about to receive the first infant vaccine

Baby that is about to receive the first infant vaccine

Talk to your General practitioner or Nurse to ensure that your baby receives all necessary vaccinations at the recommended intervals.

Sources & Citations

  1. Better Health Channel (2022). Vaccines. Retrieved from (accessed 26 May 2023)
  2. Healthdirect (2022). Immunisation and vaccinations for your child. Retrieved from (accessed 26 May 2023)
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2019). How Vaccines Strengthen Your Baby’s Immune System. Retrieved from (accessed 26 May 2023)
  4. World Health Organization (WHO) (2023). Vaccines and Immunization. Retrieved from (accessed 26 May 2023)
  5. Australian Government: Department of Health and Aged Care (2022). About immunisation. Retrieved from (accessed 26 May 2023)
  6. Australian Government: Department of Health and Aged Care (2023). Immunisation for children. Retrieved from (accessed 26 May 2023)
  7. SKAI: Sharing Knowledge about Immunisation (2020). What vaccines are recommended now my baby is 6 months? [Fact sheet]. National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS).

MAT-AU-2301079. Date of Preparation: May 2023.