Australia’s vaccination system has been strengthened with the passage of new legislation through the Australian Parliament, making it a requirement for all vaccination providers to report life saving vaccinations to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).
The Australian Immunisation Register is a whole of life, national immunisation register, which records vaccines given to all people in Australia.
The AIR includes vaccines given under the National Immunisation Program, through school-based programs and privately, such as for seasonal influenza and vaccines required for travel purposes.
Importantly, it will also include COVID-19 vaccinations.
The changes will mean more comprehensive reporting of vaccinations, which over time will help increase vaccination coverage rates and the effectiveness of Australia’s world-leading vaccination programs.
While the Government strongly supports immunisation and invests over $400 million each year in the National Immunisation Program (NIP), vaccination is voluntary in Australia.
At the same time, this change will help inform the NIP policy and service delivery at the local level.
Previously, the reporting of vaccinations was at the discretion of vaccination providers. As the nation prepares for the start of the COVID-19 vaccination program, this change enables the Government to confirm every COVID-19 vaccine which is administered.
Importantly, the Australian Government remains committed to vaccination for COVID-19 being voluntary, for any vaccine the Therapeutic Goods Administration decides is safe and effective. This is one of the fundamental principles of our vaccination strategy.
Australia already has very high rates for immunisation and reporting for infants and children, with 95.09 per cent of children aged five years of age fully vaccinated, however reporting of adolescent and other adult vaccines is lower and less reliable. For example reporting of seasonal influenza vaccinations to the AIR is approximately 50 per cent.
Strengthening reporting to the AIR and ensuring all vaccinations are included will mean health authorities can avoid unnecessary re-vaccination and let individuals and their vaccination providers know which vaccines a person has had and when they are overdue.
The AIR provides Australians with an Immunisation History Statement (IHS) which displays all immunisations that an individual has had that are recorded on the AIR. The IHS can be viewed and printed via Medicare Online, myGov or the Express Plus Medicare mobile app. Vaccination providers can print an IHS on behalf of their patients. Immunisation information on My Health Record is updated via a daily feed from AIR data.
The IHS can be used by individuals to prove their immunisation status for child care, school, employment or travel purposes.
The Australian Government wants the AIR to be a complete and reliable dataset of all vaccines administered in Australia and there are existing and strong provisions under the AIR Act that provide individuals with control over their personal information.
Any COVID-19 vaccines, once approved for use and administered in Australia must be reported to the AIR. Influenza vaccinations must be reported to the AIR from 1 March 2021 and all other NIP vaccinations must be included from 1 July 2021.
More information about the AIR is available at servicesaustralia.gov.au.