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At risk group - adults

Page last updated on 09 November 2018

Some adults, because of their medical history, indigenous status and lifestyle, may be at higher risk of developing diseases than others. These people are termed “medically at-risk”. The National Immunisation Program (NIP) provides free vaccinations to some of these at-risk adults. 

For example, older adults (> 65 years) can be vaccinated against pneumococcal disease, shingles and influenza. As well as this, special adult groups, including pregnant women and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) peoples (6 months to 4 years of age, and then again from 15 years of age), are able to receive the flu vaccine for free under the NIP.

Vaccination requirements may vary for some people. For example, they may vary depending on an underlying medical condition, certain areas of employment, travel plans, background/cultural heritage and lifestyle. Note that although people travelling to certain countries are considered at higher risk of contracting vaccine-preventable diseases, this does not necessarily mean that they are eligible to receive vaccinations for free under the NIP.

Speak with your healthcare professional for more information.

Commonly asked questions

Which vaccines are free for at-risk persons?

All vaccines listed as part of the National Immunisation Program (NIP) are free. For adults, these include:

  • All people over 65 years of age: pneumococcal disease, shingles (for people aged 70-79), and influenza.
  • For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: pneumococcal disease for those in the 15-49 year age group with medical risk factors, or all those over 50 years of age; and influenza for all those over 15 years of age.
  • Pregnant women: influenza and whooping cough.

Individual states within Australia may have their own free vaccination programmes for at-risk groups.

Speak with your healthcare professional if you believe you fall into a 'high risk' category and which vaccinations are right for you.
 

Who are the at-risk groups for influenza?

The at risk groups for influenza in the adult age bracket (> 18 years) include:

  • All people over 65 years of age
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (aged 6 months to 4 years, or over 15 years of age).
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with certain medical condition
    • Down syndrome
    • Body mass index more than 40
    • Chronic liver disease
  • Residents and staff in aged care facilities
  • People who are homeless
  • Cares and household contacts of at-risk people
  • Poultry or pork industry workers
  • Essential services providers
  • Travellers.

Note that not all of these groups are eligible to receive a free influenza vaccine under the National Immunisation Program (NIP) (see FAQ: “Who is considered “medically at-risk” and eligible for a free influenza vaccine?”). Speak with your healthcare professional for more information.

Who is considered “medically at-risk” and eligible for a free influenza vaccine?

In addition to older adults (over 65 years), pregnant women, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples (aged 6 months to 4 years, or over 15 years), as well as adults with the following medical conditions may be eligible for a free influenza vaccine each year:

  • Cardiac disease
  • Chronic respiratory conditions
  • Chronic neurological conditions
  • Immunocompromising condition
  • Diabetes and other metabolic disorders
  • Renal disease
  • Haematological disorders


Note that other groups of adults (e.g. travellers to other countries, workers in aged care facilities) are also at-risk, but are not eligible for a free influenza vaccine under the National Immunisation Program (NIP). 

Speak to your healthcare professional about how you can best protect yourself against influenza.

Is there a special programme for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people?

Yes. The National Immunisation Program (NIP) includes additional vaccination for infants of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In addition, the pneumococcal disease vaccine is available for those in the 15-49 year age group with medical risk factors, or all those over 50 years of age. 

The annual vaccine for influenza is available for all those over 15 years of age. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be vaccinated against hepatitis B if they have not been vaccinated before and are not already immune to the virus. Residents of the Torres Strait Islands can also be vaccinated against japanese encephalitis. And, non-pregnant women of child-bearing age should be vaccinated against rubella, using the combined measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine.

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

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Sources & Citations

  1. Centers for
  2. Centers for Disease Control. For Parents: Vaccines for Your Children. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/index.html (accessed 19 April 2018).
  3. 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).
  4. Australian Government. Department of Health. Why get immunised? Available at https://campaigns.health.gov.au/immunisationfacts/why-get-immunised (accessed 19 April 2018).
  5. 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).
  6. 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).
  7. The Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th Edition. Part 3 Vaccination for Special Risk Groups. Available at http://www.immunise.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/Handbook10-home~handbook10part3 (accessed 25 April 2018).
  8. Victorian Government. Health. Immunisation Schedule January 2018. Available at https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/about/publications/policiesandguidelines/immunisation-schedule-victoria-january-2018 (accessed 25 April 2018).
  9. National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance. NCIRS fact sheets. Available at http://www.ncirs.edu.au/provider-resources/ncirs-fact-sheets/ (accessed 29 April 2018).
  10. Victorian Government. Health. National Immunisation Program (NIP) and State funded vaccines for eligible Victorian adults. Available at https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/public-health/immunisation/adults/nip-and-state-funded-vaccines (accessed 29 April 2018).
  11. National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance. Influenza factsheet. Available at http://www.ncirs.edu.au/assets/provider_resources/fact-sheets/Influenza-fact-sheet.pdf (accessed 12 June 2018).

SPANZ.SAPAS.18.05.0211a - Date of preparation May 2018 

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