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.
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 payments and the full Family Tax Benefit Part A fortnightly payment) commonly known as ‘No Jab, No Pay’ (Commonwealth policy).
The Victorian Refugee Health Network produced an information sheet for case workers and others working with families from refugee backgrounds, to support them to meet the new requirements.
Vaccine funding changes – eligibility criteria for free vaccines
- As of 1 January 2016, free catch-up vaccines for all children less than 10 years of age (ongoing)
- From 1 July 2017, free catch-up vaccines for all individuals 10 to 19 years (ongoing)
- From 1 July 2017, free catch up vaccines for refugees and humanitarian entrants aged 20 years and over (ongoing)
- Immunisation for refugees and asylum seekers: Information sheet for case workers and health service staff (March 2019)
- Catch-up immunisation for refugees and asylum seekers: Information sheet for immunisation providers (March 2019)
- 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 Victorian Refugee Health Network’s Immunisation Projects.
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