Red Nose recommends immunisation for babies. There are many health benefits including a lower risk of SUDI.

To Reduce the Risks of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI), including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Fatal Sleep Accidents

1. Sleep baby on the back from birth, not on the tummy or side

2. Sleep baby with head and face uncovered

3. Keep baby smoke free before birth and after

4. Provide a safe sleeping environment night and day

5. Sleep baby in their own safe sleeping place in the same room as an adult care-giver for the first six to twelve months

6. Breastfeed baby

The term Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) is now used as this term refers to all cases of sudden and unexpected death in infancy and includes deaths from the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and fatal sleeping accidents. Safe sleeping recommendations target known risk factors associated with SUDI. Where studies specifically define the population as SIDS, this specific term will be used to describe the study findings.

Immunisation is a simple, safe and effective way of protecting against a number of infective diseases 1. The risks of these are far greater than the risks of immunisation. The vast majority of babies in Australia have childhood immunisations as do most other countries where immunisation is easily available. In some countries all babies are immunised unless there is a contraindication.

Are immunisations linked to SUDI?

No study has demonstrated an increased risk of SUDI with immunisation. Similarly, no study has shown an increase in autism with immunisation 2-4. In fact, several case control studies have confirmed the reverse, with SUDI less common in the immunised group compared with those not immunised 5-7. Some studies have even confirmed the SUDI rate in the immunised group is nearly half that in the non-immunised group 8,9. In South Korea, which has universal immunisation, recent data showed few SUDI or sudden deaths reported in the first 2 years of life 10.

Studies looking specifically at the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) vaccine which was suggested as having an association with SUDI 30 years ago have shown that DTP immunisation has no effect on babies’ arousal from sleep 11 and that increased DPT immunisation coverage is associated with significantly decreased SUDI mortality 6,7.

Recent research has shown no increased risk of SUDI in the 14 days following immunisation or that recently introduced vaccines (e.g. Hib against Haemophilus) are associated with an increased risk of SUDI 9. The German SUDI research group showed clearly that immunisation reduces, rather than increases, the risk of SUDI significantly 12.

Should my baby have the usual immunisations?

Red Nose recommends that all babies should receive the normal program of immunisations at the scheduled ages, both in infancy and beyond.

In Australia, between 1990 and 2015 approximately 5,000 babies died suddenly and unexpectedly. Baby deaths attributed to SUDI have fallen by 85% and it is estimated that 9,967 infant lives have been saved as a result of the infant safe sleeping campaigns.

The Safe Sleeping program is based on strong scientific evidence, has been developed in consultation with major health authorities, SUDI researchers and paediatric experts in Australia and overseas, and meets the National Health & Medical Research Council rules for strong evidence.

For further information visit the Red Nose website at or phone Red Nose on 1300 998 698.

The Immunise Australia Program website will provide you with more information to help you to make informed decisions:

Your doctor or child health nurse will also be able to provide you with more information.

Suggested citation:

Red Nose National Scientific Advisory Group (NSAG). 2017. Information Statement: Immunisation. Melbourne, Red Nose. This information statement was first posted in June, 2008. Most recently updated April, 2017

View the references for this article here.

Last modified: 27/2/18