National Immunisation Program; providing national health security

Towards global elimination of vaccine-preventable diseases

National Immunisation Programs work by providing access to free vaccines to communities to combat vaccine-preventable diseases and related suffering and deaths. They play a critical role in maintaining our health and global security.

In Australia the National Immunisation Program (NIP) began as the Immunise Australia Program in 1997. The success of the program is reflected in the very high childhood immunisation coverage that reached a rate of 94.6% of those five years old in 2018. 1

The National Immunisation Program is working to increase the immunisation coverage in places where vaccinations rates are lower than in other areas of Australia.

The program provides a schedule for recommended vaccinations including what vaccinations are required, and when, across all age groups. The vaccinations on the program are provided free by the Australian federal government for those eligible. Some states and territories provide additional vaccinations that fall outside the NIP but are also free to those eligible. [i]

There are currently seventeen diseases prevented by vaccines listed on the NIP schedule including measles, mumps, rubella, polio, whooping cough (pertussis), diphtheria, tetanus, Haemophilus influenza type b (HiB), rotavirus, pneumococcal, meningococcal, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, human papilloma virus (HPV), chickenpox and shingles (herpes zoster). Currently COVID-19 vaccinations are not included on the NIP but are provided free to everyone in Australia by the Australia federal government.

There are additional vaccinations not included in the National Immunisation Program (not included under the NIP schedule and available to purchase) that may be recommended when a person is considered vulnerable because of their health, age, work, travel or lifestyle.[ii]

In 2018, after decades of highly successful immunisation program, a new challenge emerged. The National Immunisation Strategy for Australia 2019 to 2024 wrote that because some diseases are no longer visible in our communities we face a risk of complacency that could have an impact on Australia’s vaccination coverage. [iii]

By 2020, the World Health Organization reported that global immunisation coverage had dropped from 86% to 83% reminding us of the hard work it took to increase immunisation coverage worldwide and the threat we face if not maintained.[iv]

[i] Australian Government Department of Health, When do I get vaccinated ?, accessed 9 September 2021

[ii] Australian Government Department of Health, When do I get vaccinated?  accessed 9 September 2021

[iii] Department of Health, National Immunisation Strategy for Australia 2019–2024,  accessed 9 September 2021

[iv] World Health Organization, Immunisation coverage,  accessed 9 September 2021

Additional reading:

Australian Government Department of Health, National Immunisation Program schedule,


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