When I got my family here once I got the job, the first thing I wanted to do was to enrol my daughter in a day care. There were two primary reasons for that. One – she would quickly assimilate into the Australian culture and two, a rather selfish one, was that my wife would be free to look for the job.
Fortunately, there was a vacancy at the day care close to my house. Plus, the fees and timings were good enough. More importantly, there were a few Indian educators which meant smooth transition to the new culture for my daughter. There was only one problem – my daughter’s overseas immunisation history was not updated in the Australian health records.
What’s The Big Deal?
I believe that immunisation is a must for every child for their good health and well-being. Apparently, not every Australian agree to that. Hence, Australian government created “no jab no pay” policy to encourage more people to go for immunisation. If you don’t immunise your children, you won’t get any child care benefits as well as family tax benefits. Plus, your child won’t be admitted to Day Care or school if you can’t provide immunisation certificate.
Preparations Before Coming To Australia
If your child is born in Australia, the doctor will take care of administering proper vaccines to your child as per the well defined schedule. However, you have a kid who is born overseas, then before moving to Australia, you should get your child’s vaccination details signed and stamped from your paediatrician. This should be one of the most important point in your Moving to Australia checklist.
Usually, paediatrician gives a card showing schedule of when each vaccine is due for your child. Make sure that this schedule is correctly updated with dates on which each vaccine was given. One important point – if the immunisation card is not in English, please get it translated into English by an authorised translator before moving to Australia.
Sometimes, due to bad or misaligned handwritten notes, it becomes very hard to read the card correctly. As a precaution, copy the schedule to an excel sheet or word file and fill in all the details, take a printout and get it signed and stamped by paediatrician. As a guide, you can take a look at the immunisation schedule published by Indian Academy of Pediatrics.
Updating Immunisation Details In Australia
When you move to Australia, visit your local doctor, commonly known as General Practitioner(GP) here, with your child’s overseas vaccination record. You can also do the same by visiting your local council too (akin to the municipal corporation in India). He or she will then check those overseas vaccination details against Australia’s National Immunisation Program Schedule(NIPS). You can find the schedule on National Immunisation Program website.
If there are any vaccines which are missing or due, they will advise you as to when your child can have them. In my case, GP gave three vaccines to my daughter regarding Hepatitis B, Meningococcal and Measles. Thankfully vaccines for children are provided free of cost by Australian Government, so there is no out of pocket expense to you.
Once your child is up-to-date as per NIPS, the GP will update the immunisation history with Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). AIR is the government body which maintains the immunisation database for everyone in Australia. Usually, it takes two to three weeks for the records to be updated. An insider tip here: call both, Australian Immunisation Register and your GP after a couple of days of immunisation appointment and follow up on getting your child’s immunisation details updated in the database. This will usually speed up the process and help you get the statement much quicker than waiting for them to update it.
Getting Immunisation History Statement
Once your child’s records are updated in AIR’s immunisation database, you can log in to your Medicare account and download Immunisation History statement. It is a detailed record showing when each vaccine is administered to your child and next due date. You can provide a copy of this statement to your child’s day care or school. The printed version of the same is also mailed to your postal address by Medicare. Make sure that your child’s details and immunisation records are correctly shown in the statement. If it is not, you may need to contact your GP to get it corrected.
In my case, the day care administrator was kind enough to allow my daughter to join the day care by accepting Indian vaccination record till the Australian version was ready. Not everyone is so lucky. Bottom line: if you are preparing to enrol your kids to day care early on, get their immunisation details in Australian records as early as possible.