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Feature Article

What’s new in childhood immunisation?

Kristine K Macartney

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Abstract

Changes to the National Immunisation Program Schedule are influenced by changes in the epidemiology of vaccine preventable diseases, the availability of new vaccines and vaccine safety. Here is a review of recent additions and changes to the schedule.

Key Points

  • In 2007, vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and cervical cancer started under the National Immunisation Program (NIP) via school-based and GP delivery.
  • In the same year, two oral vaccines for the prevention of rotavirus gastroenteritis were added to the NIP for infants.
  • The meningococcal C vaccine campaign and ongoing immunisation with one dose of vaccine given to infants at the age of 12 months have led to a decline in the incidence of meningococcal C disease.
  • Combination measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV) vaccines are being considered for incorporation on to the NIP, together with a possible move of administration of the second dose of MMR vaccine to the earlier age of 18 months.
  • Strategies to prevent pertussis in vulnerable young infants include immunisation of their parents and carers with the adolescent/adult formulation of the dTpa vaccine, known as the ‘cocoon strategy’.
  • Children are often ill with influenza and spread the infection to adults. The potential impact of routine annual influenza immunisation of young children is under study.

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