About the handbook
The Australian Immunisation Handbook provides clinical guidelines for healthcare professionals and others about using vaccines safely and effectively
This page was added on 11 June 2018.
This page was updated on [date-counter-updated-date]. View history of updates
More than 200 years ago, Edward Jenner first showed that vaccination protected against smallpox. Since then, vaccines have reduced the burden of many infectious diseases.
Vaccination is one of the most effective and cost-effective public health interventions. Worldwide, immunisation programs prevent around 2.5 million deaths each year.1 Model examples of disease control through immunisation include the:
- global eradication of smallpox in 1979
- near elimination of poliomyelitis
- global reduction in other vaccine-preventable diseases
Vaccination can protect both the people vaccinated and others in the community who are not immune. It does this by increasing the level of immunity in the population. Known as ‘herd immunity’ or ‘community immunity’, this minimises the spread of infection. Healthcare professionals must take every opportunity to vaccinate children and adults.
Australia has one of the most comprehensive publicly funded immunisation programs in the world. As a result of successful vaccination programs, many diseases have either been eradicated or are extremely rare in Australia, such as:
- Haemophilus influenzae type b
The Australian Immunisation Handbook provides clinical guidelines for healthcare professionals and others about the safest and most effective use of vaccines in their practice. The guidance is based on the best scientific evidence available, from published and unpublished literature. Details about the Handbook revision procedures are in Development of the Handbook.
The Handbook contains information for all vaccines that are available in Australia at or near the time of publication. The National Immunisation Program funds many of the vaccines. People may receive, or be recommended to receive, vaccines described in this Handbook that are not part of the routine immunisation schedule — for example, people:
- who are travelling overseas
- with a medical condition that puts them at increased risk of contracting a vaccine-preventable disease
- at occupational risk of disease
National Immunisation Program
The Australian Immunisation Handbook references both the National Immunisation Program, which aims to increase national immunisation coverage to reduce the number of cases of diseases that are preventable by vaccination in Australia and the National Immunisation Program Schedule which outlines the recommended schedule points from birth through to adulthood.
The preferred citation provided is: Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). Australian Immunisation Handbook, Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, Canberra, 2022, immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au.
The guideline recommendations were approved by the Chief Executive Officer of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) on 9 July 2018. Subsequent amendments since 9 July 2018 were approved under section 14A of the National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992. In approving the guideline recommendations, NHMRC is satisfied that the guideline recommendations are systematically derived, based on the identification and synthesis of the best available scientific evidence, and developed for health professionals practising in an Australian health care setting.
- World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, World Bank. State of the world's vaccines and immunization. 3rd ed. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2009 (accessed June 2012).
- Chiu C, Dey A, Wang H, et al. Vaccine preventable diseases in Australia, 2005 to 2007. Communicable Diseases Intelligence 2010;34 Suppl:ix-S167.