Immunisation for babies and toddlers
Give your pēpi (baby) the best protection by getting them immunised on time. Their free vaccinations are due at 6 weeks, 3 months, 5 months, 12 months, and 15 months. For babies over 6 months old, flu immunisation is free in 2023.
On this page
- Immunisations on the schedule are free for babies and toddlers
- Getting ready for your baby’s first immunisations
- What ages immunisations are due
- Catching up
- Premature babies
- Free meningococcal B immunisation
- Extra vaccines not on the schedule for babies and toddlers
- Why some vaccines are on the schedule more than once
- Some vaccines protect against more than 1 disease in a single vaccine
- Why vaccines are recommended at certain times
Immunisations on the schedule are free for babies and toddlers
In Aotearoa New Zealand, we have a National Immunisation Schedule. This lists the vaccines offered to babies, tamariki, and adults and the best time to get immunised. All vaccinations on the National Immunisation Schedule are free for children under 18 – it does not matter what their visa or citizenship status is. This includes visitors to Aotearoa New Zealand.
Extra vaccines not on the schedule may also be recommended if you, or your child, is considered high-risk, or if you’re travelling abroad. Some of these vaccines you may need to pay for.
Kia ora, my name is Parehinetai. I am a māmā of three, and Enoch, my husband, and our kids live here on Tapu Te Ranga Marae, in Island Bay.
Our third baby, our pōtiki our very last, her name is Ngataiwhakaki Auafaifetalaiga. She's 2 weeks old, she was born in November.
Immunisation is important to our whānau. I didn't think much about it before I had kids.
My 2 older children have had all of their immunisation since 6 weeks old and Ngatai here will receive her 6 week immunisations soon.
There was a bit of fear around the side effects that you read about, and also I think, just having, like such a small baby getting an injection can be really scary.
The way that I got past that fear was to ask every question that I could think of.
We're really comfortable with our GP and the entire practice, and so I felt really comfortable reaching out to my GP and the nurses about questions that I had around my kids getting immunised.
We had long-term peace of mind as parents that they were covered for certain illnesses.
Getting ready for your baby’s first immunisations
Your baby’s first immunisations are due at 6 weeks. Make it easy and enroll them with a doctor early.
If you need help with enrolment, your midwife, the hospital, or your Well Child Tamariki Ora nurse can help you enroll your child with a doctor, or to access immunisations through another healthcare provider.
If you cannot find a doctor to enroll your child, call:
- Healthline any time on 0800 611 116 (translators are available), or
- PlunketLine any time on 0800 933 922.
They can help connect you with a local immunisation service.
What ages immunisations are due
Immunisations are due at 6 weeks, 3 months, 5 months, 12 months, and 15 months. Their next scheduled immunisation is when they turn 4 years old.
Usually, more than 1 vaccine is given during each appointment. These vaccines have been tested for safety and effectiveness when given at the same time.
Your pēpi (baby) gets 3 vaccinations.
- Rotavirus – an oral vaccine, given as liquid drops in the mouth (dose 1 of 2)
- Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, hep B and Hib (dose 1 of 3)
- Pneumococcal (dose 1 of 3)
Your pēpi gets 3 vaccinations.
- Rotavirus – an oral vaccine, given as liquid drops in the mouth (dose 2 of 2)
- Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, hep B and Hib (dose 2 of 3)
- Meningococcal B (dose 1 of 3)
Your pēpi gets 3 vaccinations.
- Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, hep B and Hib (dose 3 of 3)
- Pneumococcal (dose 2 of 3)
- Meningococcal B (dose 2 of 3)
When your pēpi turns 6 months old, it’s recommended they get flu immunisation every year. In 2023 this is free for all children aged 6 months to 12 years.
- Flu – single dose annually. If they have not had a flu vaccine before, and they are under 9 years old, 2 doses, 4 weeks apart are needed.
It's so important to care of our children.
It's important to rest, to eliminate any worries, and any illness that might afflict us.
We got our whānau and our baby immunised because we wanted to give him the best possible start in life.
Baby is healthy and happy. He's what a little kid should be I guess.
It's not too late to get your immunisations up to date.
If an immunisation has been missed – you can catch up
If any immunisations have been missed, it’s OK. You can catch up on most immunisations. For advice, talk to your doctor, nurse, or trusted healthcare professional.
Premature and low birthweight babies should receive their immunisations starting at 6 weeks old – regardless of how premature they were.
If your baby is in hospital when their immunisations are due, they will be vaccinated by the hospital team.
Do not delay vaccinations as your pēpi is at higher risk from disease, so immunising on time is really important.
It may be recommended by your doctor that your pēpi has some additional vaccines including:
- an extra pneumococcal dose (if they were born before 28 weeks)
- annual free flu vaccination from 6 months old
- COVID-19 immunisation from 6 months old.
Free meningococcal B immunisation
On 1 March 2023, the meningococcal B vaccine was added to the National Immunisation Schedule. It’s free for babies at 3 months, 5 months, and 12 months.
Many tamariki under 5 would not have had their 3 doses, so a free catch-up programme is available until 31 August 2025 for tamariki under 5 years old.
Talk to your doctor, nurse, or healthcare provider about immunisation.
Extra vaccines not on the schedule for babies and toddlers
If your baby has an ongoing medical condition, ask your doctor, nurse or vaccinator what extra free immunisations they may need.
If they are not eligible for extra free immunisations, they may still be able to get immunised. Talk to your doctor or nurse about whether protection is a good idea for your tamariki and what it would cost.
Additional vaccinations may also be recommended if you’re travelling overseas. There is a cost for these.
Why some vaccines are on the schedule more than once
To be fully protected your tamariki sometimes need more than 1 dose of a vaccine.
When they’re first vaccinated, their body learns how to fight off a particular bacteria or virus. Their second (and sometimes third or fourth) dose boosts their immune system so they will have stronger, and longer-lasting, protection.
Different vaccines protect for different lengths of time. Your child will sometimes need a booster vaccination to strengthen their immunity.
Some vaccines protect against more than 1 disease in a single vaccine
Some vaccines provide protection against more than 1 disease in a single vaccine. For example the Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, hep B and Hib vaccine is just 1 injection. This means fewer vaccination appointments and fewer injections.
It’s not always possible to have a different vaccine if you want protection against only one of the diseases. Your immune system is used to dealing with thousands of viruses and bacteria every day – so there are no safety concerns with having multiple vaccines at the same time.
Why vaccines are recommended at certain times
The schedule is deliberately spaced to boost your child's immunity. Each vaccination on the schedule is timed for the best immune response and protection. For the best protection against disease, immunise your tamariki at the recommended times. Not getting them immunised on time puts tamariki at greater risk of getting a serious disease.