Identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander on the AIR
Improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is a national priority. The National Immunisation Program (NIP) for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people provides additional vaccines to help improve the health of Indigenous people, and close the gap between Indigenous and non- Indigenous people in health and life expectancy.
Until recently, the AIR used information from Medicare to record whether a person identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
Now, vaccination providers can record this information directly on the AIR. It does not need to be the same as Medicare. If your vaccination provider updates your ‘Indigenous status’ on AIR, this information won’t be recorded on any other government database.
Recording an Indigenous status on the AIR helps vaccination providers to identify and give the clinically correct vaccination schedule.
Catch-up schedule to display on immunisation history statement
Australian Government legislation requires that children continue to meet immunisation requirements to be eligible for family payments (No Jab No Pay). To meet the immunisation requirements for family payments, one of the following must apply to a child:
- be immunised according to the NIP childhood schedule
- be on an approved catch-up vaccination schedule
- have a valid exemption.
Catch-up vaccination aims to protect people against disease as quickly as possible. It aims to help people get up to date with their vaccination schedule in the shortest, but most effective, time frame.
From February 2020, if you are on an approved immunisation catch-up schedule registered on the AIR the:
- catch-up schedule will display on the top of your immunisation history statement
- date it expires will also show.
This helps give people a complete picture of their immunisation status. It gives parents and guardians evidence of a child’s vaccination status for childcare or school entry. It also lets other vaccination providers know how a person’s vaccination needs are being managed.
Introduction of reminder letters for older Australians
On 1 July 2020, the recommended age on the NIP for older Australians to receive the pneumococcal vaccine changed from 65 to 70 years. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, pneumococcal is recommended from 50 years.
Vaccination against shingles is still recommended for people from 70 years of age. The current shingles vaccine is ‘live attenuated’, which means the vaccine is contraindicated in some people.
In line with the 1 July 2020 schedule changes above, Services Australia will send a reminder letter to people who are eligible for a pneumococcal and/or shingles vaccination.
If you receive a reminder letter, please visit your vaccination provider to:
- discuss any NIP-funded vaccinations you may be eligible for
- discuss which vaccinations are recommended for you. Shingles vaccination may not be appropriate for people with significant immunocompromise due to a primary or acquired medical condition, or medical treatment.
- request that they update the AIR with vaccines you may have already received but have not been recorded on the AIR.
About the AIR
The AIR is a national register that can record all vaccines given to all people in Australia. It includes vaccines given under the NIP, through school programs and privately, such as for flu or travel.
We use AIR immunisation information to:
- monitor the effectiveness of all vaccines and vaccination programs
- help prevent vaccine-preventable disease.
Immunisation is an essential health service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Keeping up to date with vaccinations helps keep you and your community safe.
If you have any concerns about seeing your vaccination provider during the COVID-19 pandemic, you should contact them before your appointment time to discuss any specific requirements or circumstances to ensure vaccinations can be administered in a safe environment.