Here’s how to ensure your child has all the immunisations they need, and what to do if they missed out.
The COVID-19 pandemic has postponed, delayed, and shifted a lot of our regularly scheduled life maintenance – and your child’s immunisations may have also fallen by the wayside while you concentrated on coping with our changing world. Are their imms up-to-date? Have they missed a dose of anything? How do you find out? What do you need to do?
FIRST, DON’T PANIC
Look, you’re not alone in this. Everyone is dealing with way too many things right now, and the pandemic has exacerbated that. Give yourself some grace and some credit.
NOW, CALL YOUR GP
Your GP can access the National Immunisation Register (NIR), which holds your child’s immunisation records of they were born in mid-2005 or later. For people born earlier than 2005, there was no centralised immunisation register, and their immunisation records will be held by their previous or current GP, or recorded in their Well Child/Plunket book.
Your GP’s office can look up your child’s immunisation records and advise you on what immunisations they may need and when. They can also make an appointment for your child to come in and catch up on immunisations.
Your GP and their staff should be supportive and helpful, but if they act all Jugdy McJudgerson about your child being behind on immunisations, that is not on, and you have the right to make a complaint. If you have the capacity, talk to the GP’s office manager about how you were treated. If you need to escalate the complaint, you can get in touch with the Office of the Health and Disability Commissioner (hdc.org.nz or 0800 11 22 33).
CHECK OUT THE IMMUNISATION ADVISORY CENTRE
The Immunisation Advisory Centre (immune.org.nz) has helpful information about the New Zealand National Immunisation Schedule, which is the series of immunisations (including boosters) given at specific times between the ages of six weeks and 12 years. You can download a printable version of the Schedule and keep it on your fridge. Their website is an excellent resource for navigating age-by-age or by immunisation, so you can find out at a glance what immunisations your child needs.
GIVE PLUNKETLINE OR HEALTHLINE A CALL
PlunketLine (0800 933 922) and Healthline (0800 611 116) are free, 24-hour phone lines you can call to get expert advice from health professionals over the phone. They can’t access your child’s immunisation records, but they can give you info about what immunisations your child needs at what age, what those immunisations are for, and where you can go to get the immunisations done. They can even send you a list of local GP offices if you aren’t currently enrolled with a GP.
DO ADULTS NEED IMMUNISATIONS TOO?
The short answer is – yes. All adults should get their flu jabs yearly and their COVID-19 boosters when recommended. Pregnant women, people who are immunocompromised, people with certain health conditions, and the elderly do need booster doses of other vaccines in order to ensure you are protected. And did you know that when you turn 45, it’s recommended you get a booster for tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis? Check out immune.org.nz and see what immunisations you might need, and give your GP a call to talk about getting your own doses caught up.