Protecting Our Community from Infectious Diseases


1. NSW School Vaccination Program

The Vaccination Team works in partnership with all high schools in Western Sydney to offer the vaccines recommended for adolescents by the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in a school vaccination program.

Parent Information Kits are sent home to parents early in the school year. Parents are advised to read all the information provided, complete and sign the consent form and return it to their child's school to consent to vaccination.

If a student misses vaccine doses due to absence on the day of the nurses' visit, they will be offered catch-up vaccination at subsequent school clinics.

Where this is not possible, parents will be advised that free catch-up vaccination is available at their local GP during the school year only. A parent may opt to have their Year 7 child vaccinated with their local GP - vaccines are available free, however the local GP may charge a consultation fee.

Note: MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine is available free to all community members who were born after 1966 and who do not have two documented doses of previous MMR vaccination.

2. Immunisation – Catch-ups

Children who have not received all vaccines recommended by the National Immunisation Program (NIP) require additional (catch-up) vaccination. This brings them up-to-date and ensures that are protected against all vaccine-preventable diseases. Under the National Immunisation Program all childhood and some adolescent vaccinations are free of charge.

The Immunisation Team are able to assist in planning a catch-up schedule. The information below is provided to assist immunisation provides with this process.

How to find immunisation records:

  • The Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR) commenced in 1996. Contact the ACIR on 1800 653 809
  • The NSW School Vaccination Program commenced in 2003, records can be obtained by contacting the Public Health Unit on 02 9840 3603
  • The ‘Blue Baby Book’ contains record of vaccinations given in Australia
  • For record of vaccinations given overseas: the World Health Organization has information about the recommended schedule in each country that may assist in determining which vaccines have been given.

How to plan catch-ups:

Detailed instructions for planning are catch-up are in the Australian Immunisation Handbook. The Immunisation Calculator on the South Australian Health website is also a useful tool.

3. Vaccine storage and cold chain management

What is “cold chain”?

A system of transporting and storing vaccines within a safe temperature range of +2 ̊C to +8 ̊C from manufacture to administration of the vaccine. It is required to protect vaccines against loss of potency from excessive heat or cold.

The recommended standards for cold chain management is outlined in the National Vaccine Storage Guidelines: Strive for 5 publication along with Vaccine Storage and Cold Chain Management Policy Directive. Immunisation providers working in any setting such as in general practices, community or child health clinics, council settings, hospitals, aged care facilities or school-based immunisation programs will find this a vital resource for effective cold chain vaccine management.

What is effective cold chain vaccine management?

  • Have a written Vaccine Management Protocol
  • Have a trained, designated person responsible for vaccine storage (include trained backup person). Use the training module.
  • Monitor and record vaccine fridge temperatures twice daily
  • Current, minimum & maximum temperature readings – then reset your thermometer.
  • Maintain all equipment: servicing of fridge, replacing batteries and accuracy of thermometer/data logger
  • Have a process in ordering and receiving vaccines: stock requirements; rotation of stock (be aware of expiry dates)
  • Manage transportation of vaccines & managing a power failure.
  • Report any cold chain breach

Go through the NSW Health resource for immunisation providers on cold chain management

What is a “cold chain breach”?

This occurs if vaccine storage temperatures have been outside the recommended range of +2 ̊C to +8 ̊C. It excludes temperatures up to +12 ̊C for no longer than 15 minutes (which may occur when restocking).

What action is required when a cold chain breach occurs?

NSW Health resource on managing a cold chain breach

View the Strive for 5 - Cold Chain Breach Protocol Poster for an outline of the cold chain breach protocol and how to report a breach.

4. Exposure to rabies and other lyssaviruses

Lyssaviruses are a group of viruses that includes rabies and bat lyssavirus. Rabies is carried by mammals in many overseas countries. Bat lyssavirus is carried by bats in Australia and overseas. Both are spread by bites and scratches.

Management of potential exposure to rabies and other lyssaviruses

  • Any bite or scratch from a bat in Australia or mammals and bats overseas should be assessed for the risk of rabies or other lyssavirus
  • The key first aid step is to thoroughly clean the wound and apply an antiseptic solution such as povidone-iodine
  • During hours, contact the Immunisation Team on 9840 3603 and afterhours, the Public Health Officer On-Call via Westmead Hospital switchboard on 8890 5555 for advice on management.
  • The Public Health Unit will supply free rabies immunoglobulin and rabies vaccine as required.
  • Australian Immunisation Handbook (10th edition) here.
  • Provide the Rabies-lyssavirus factsheet to your patient

5. Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI)

The aim of surveillance of AEFIs is to monitor vaccine safety and detect any rare, late onset or unpredicted post-licensure adverse events that many not have been detected in pre-licensure vaccine trials.

How to report suspected AEFI

  • Immunisation providers are encouraged to report suspected adverse events to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) using the form below and contact the Immunisation team on 9840 3603.
  • Download the TGA reporting form.

GPs can access specialist support for managing AEFIs from the NSW Immunisation Specialist Service (NSWISS) by calling 1800 NSWISS (1800 679 477). More information is available on their website.

6. Workforce education and training

The Public Health Unit provides training opportunities for authorised nurse immunisers, practice nurses and general practitioners.

List of training opportunities:

  • Those who are interested in becoming authorised nurse immunisers can contact the Public Health Unit to find out about eligibility for scholarships
  • Our annual Authorised Nurse Immuniser Update: for authorised nurse immunisers who work or reside in WSLHD. Contact the PHU on 9840 3603 to receive the update emails series..
  • Midwife In-service. (TBA)
  • Immunisation Catch-up Workshop: for practice nurses, Community Health Nurses and general practitioners. Contact WentWest Primary Health Network on Tel: 02 8811 7100

7. Other immunisation services

Travel vaccinations

  • GPs wishing to provide Yellow Fever vaccination must first be accredited by the Immunisation Team. Call the Public Health Unit for more information.
  • The World Health Organisation and the US Centre for Diseases Control have up-to-date information on vaccination requirements and health precautions for all countries
  • The Weekly Epidemiological Record (WER) provides up-to-date information on cases and outbreaks of communicable diseases of public health importance, including Yellow Fever

Useful Links