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Older adult

Page last updated on 09 November 2018

Vaccination is safe and the most effective way to lower your chances of becoming seriously ill or hospitalised from vaccine-preventable diseases. By keeping up-to-date with your vaccinations, you’re also helping out the community by protecting the more vulnerable people from becoming infected.

Some vaccinations are provided for older adults for free via the National Immunisation Program (NIP). These include: influenza vaccine, pneumococcal vaccine and the shingles vaccine

Commonly asked questions

What vaccinations are recommended for older adults?

The Australian Government recommends for adults aged 65 years and older:

Disease Information Cost
Pneumococcal disease A single dose for adults aged 65 years and over Free to those eligible on the National Immunisation Program
Shingles (Herpes zoster) A single dose for 70 years olds, OR if you are over 70 and have not yet been vaccinated, a single catch-up dose is available for 71 to 79 year olds until 31 October 2021 Free to those eligible on the National Immunisation Program
Influenza An annual dose for adults aged 65 years and over Free through the National Immunisation Program
Tetanus A booster dose of a tetanus-containing vaccine is recommended for adults aged 50 years old or over who have not received a tetanus- containing vaccine in the past 10 years (but have previously completed a primary course of three doses) A fee may apply
Whooping cough (pertussis) A single booster dose of a whooping cough vaccine is recommended for adults aged 65 years old or more who have not been vaccinated in the past 10 years A fee may apply

 

Plus, if you are travelling, speak with your doctor before you go to ensure your vaccinations are up-to-date and that you have received the recommended vaccinations specific for the regions you are travelling to.

Are there any free vaccines for older adults?

For adults 65 years and older, the following vaccines are free under the National Immunisation Program (NIP):

  • Pneumococcal disease. A single dose is available for adults aged 65 years and over.
  • Shingles (a reactivation of chicken pox). A single dose is available for 70 year old. Until 31 October 2021, a single catch-up dose is also available for adults aged 71 to 79 years.
  • Influenza (the flu). Seasonal influenza once a year. 

Note that a consultation fee may apply.

What is pneumococcal disease?

Pneumococcal disease refers to the group of illnesses that can be caused by bacteria commonly known as pneumococcus. 

Most pneumococcal infections are mild, however some can cause serious complications or even death. 

From the upper airways, pneumococcus can cause infections in different parts of the body, such as the ear (otitis media, one of the most common pneumococcal diseases in children), sinuses, joints or bone.

Sometimes it causes serious illness like:

  • meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain)
  • pneumonia (infection of the lungs – one of the most common pneumococcal diseases in adults)
  • septicaemia (blood infection).

 

In adults, pneumonia with bacteraemia (presence of bacteria in the blood) accounts for 14% of cases of pneumonia in the community.

In children, middle ear infection is a common complication. In fact pneumococcus is the main cause of middle ear infection in children, found in around 50% of cases. Although the least common presentation in children, pneumococcal meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain) is a serious complication, which is fatal in around 30% of cases.

Do I need the whooping cough vaccine to see my great-grandchild?

Did you know that babies who get whooping cough usually get it from a family member?

Young babies are at risk of whooping cough because they are too young to have their vaccinations, and whooping cough is more severe in very young infants.

Those spending time with newborns can help protect them from whooping cough by making sure their vaccinations are up-to-date. Immunity to whooping cough wanes over time, so boosters for adults are recommended. Speak with your healthcare professional for more information.
 

Do I need a shingles vaccine?

The shingles vaccine is free as part of the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for people over 70 years of age.

Until 31 October 2021, a single catch-up dose is also available for adults aged 71 to 79 years.

For more information regarding shingles and its prevention, speak with your doctor.

I am over 65, do I need a special flu vaccine?

The Australian Government recommends a single dose of the seasonal influenza vaccine for all Australians.
 

There are two new vaccines available in 2018, made available for older adults over the age of 65 years. These vaccines offer increased immune responses to combat age-related weakened immune systems. 

Make sure you let your healthcare professional know your age when you go in for your vaccinations to ensure you have access to the free government-funded vaccine. 

For more information regarding influenza and its prevention, speak with your healthcare professional.

VaccineHub offers general information only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice

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Sources & Citations

  1. Centers for Disease Control. For Parents: Vaccines for Your Children. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/index.html (accessed 19 April 2018).
  2. Australian Government. Department of Health, The top facts about immunisation. Available at https://campaigns.health.gov.au/immunisationfacts/top-facts-about-immunisation (accessed 19 April 2018).
  3. Australian Government. Department of Health, Why get immunised? Available at https://campaigns.health.gov.au/immunisationfacts/why-get-immunised (accessed 19 April 2018).
  4. Australian Government. Department of Health, How do I immunise my child? Available at https://campaigns.health.gov.au/immunisationfacts/how-do-i-immunise-my-child (accessed 19 April 2018).
  5. Australian Government. Department of Health, National Immunisation Program Schedule. Available at https://beta.health.gov.au/topics/immunisation/immunisation-throughout-life/national-immunisation-program-schedule (accessed 19 April 2018).
  6. Australian Government. Department of Health. Immunisation for seniors. Available at: https://beta.health.gov.au/health-topics/immunisation/immunisation-throughout-life/immunisation-for-seniors (accessed 11 June 2018).
  7. NSW Government. Department of Health. Adult vaccination. Available at http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/immunisation/Pages/adult_vaccination.aspx (accessed 28th April 2018).
  8. NSW Government. Department of Health. Pneumococcal disease fact sheet. Available at http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/pneumococcal-disease.aspx (accessed 29th April 2018).
  9. The Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th Edition. Chapter 4.13 Pneumococcal disease. Available at http://www.immunise.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/Handbook10-home~handbook10part4~handbook10-4-13 (accessed 29th April 2018).
  10. NSW Government. Department of Health. Whooping cough (Pertussis) fact sheet. Available at http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/pertussis.aspx (accessed 28th April 2018).
  11. The Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th Edition. Chapter 4.12 Pertussis. Available at http://www.immunise.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/Handbook10-home~handbook10part4~handbook10-4-12 (accessed 28th April 2018).
  12. CDC. Grandparents Can Help Protect Against Whooping Cough with Tdap Vaccine. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/downloads/matte-grandparents.pdf (accessed 25 June 2018).
  13. Australian Government. Department of Health. Protect yourself against shingles brochure. Available at https://beta.health.gov.au/resources/publications/protect-yourself-against-shingles-brochure (accessed 29th April 2018).
  14. Australian Government. Department of Health. The flu vaccine – Information for consumers in 2018 fact sheet. Available at https://beta.health.gov.au/resources/publications/the-flu-vaccine-information-for-consumers-in-2018-fact-sheet (accessed 28th April 2018).
  15. NSW Government. Department of Health. Seasonal Influenza Vaccination 2018. Available at http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/immunisation/Pages/seasonal_flu_vaccination.aspx (accessed 29th April 2018).

SPANZ.SAPAS.18.05.0200a - Date of preparation May 2018

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