No-one who arrives in Australia as a refugee or asylum seeker will arrive fully vaccinated, due to differences between the Australian immunisation schedule and country of origin schedules.
People who are refugees and asylum seekers should be vaccinated so they are up to date according to the Australian immunisation schedule, equivalent to an Australian-born person of the same age.
Recent Immunisation Policy Changes
From 1 January 2016, there have been significant changes in immunisation policy. The changes require children to be fully up-to-date with their childhood vaccinations OR be on a vaccine catch-up schedule OR have a medical reason for not being fully vaccinated:
- in order to enrol in childcare or kindergarten (the law does not apply to enrolment in primary or secondary school, outside school hours care services, or playgroups), commonly known as ‘No Jab, No Play’ (Victorian state policy), and
- to be eligible to receive certain family assistance payments from Centrelink (Child Care Benefit, Child Care Rebate and Family Tax Benefit Part A-end of year supplement) commonly known as ‘No Jab, No Pay’ (Commonwealth policy).
The Victorian Refugee Health Network has produced an information sheet for case workers and others working with families from refugee backgrounds, to support them to meet the new requirements.
Recent vaccine funding changes – eligibility criteria for free vaccines
- As of 1 January 2016, all children under 10 will be able to receive free catch-up vaccines on an ongoing basis;
- From 1 January 2016 – 31 December 2017, children aged 10-19 years whose families are eligible for family assistance payments may also receive free catch-up vaccines for a time limited period to prevent their payments from being affected.
- As of January 2015, all adult refugees and asylum seekers are eligible for free vaccines, regardless of whether they hold a Medicare card – under the Victorian government policy Catch-up vaccination for vulnerable citizens.
- Immunisation for refugees and asylum seekers: Information sheet for case workers and health service staff (April 2016)
- Catch-up immunisation for refugees and asylum seekers: Information sheet for immunisation providers (May 2016)
- Catch-up vaccinations for refugees and asylum seekers in Victoria: Multilingual client brochure (June 2016)
- Multilingual Immunisation Resources – The Health Translations Directory
- Multilingual Immunisation Talking Books – Networking Health Victoria
- Catch-up immunisation in refugees web page – Royal Children’s Hospital Immigrant Health Service
- A needs analysis of catch-up immunisation in refugee-background and asylum seeker communities in Victoria
Learn about the work of the Victorian Refugee Health Network Immunisation Working Group.
For further clarification on Immunisation you can call the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services on 1300 882 008 (Monday to Friday from 9am to 12noon and 2pm to 3pm). At all other times email your immunisation enquiry to