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At risk group - adults

Page last updated on 04 August 2020

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

Speak to your doctor about your specific needs. They can advise whether you have a medical condition that means you require additional specific vaccines.

Commonly asked questions

Who are the adult at-risk groups for influenza?

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

  • Heart disease
  • Chronic lung conditions
  • Disease of the nervous system which affect your breathing
  • Impaired immunity
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney 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.

Who are the adult at-risk groups for pneumococcal disease?

Adults with the following “at-risk” conditions may be eligible for free pneumococcal vaccine under the National Immunisation Program:

  • non-functioning spleen or no spleen
  • some conditions which cause impaired immunity
  • some chronic diseases such as lung disease and kidney disease 
  • people who have had specific operations including cochlear implants and intracranial shunts
  • people who have a condition where the fluid leaks out from around their brain and spinal cord
  • people who have had pneumococcal disease before.

 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged 50 years and over are also eligible for free pneumococcal vaccine.

Non-indigenous adults aged 70 years and over are also eligible for pneumococcal vaccine.

The type and number of pneumococcal vaccines administered will depend on the “at-risk” group and will be determined by your doctor.

There are additional groups of adults with ‘at-risk’ conditions for whom pneumococcal vaccination is recommended but not funded.Your doctor or vaccination provider can advise if you have a specified medical risk condition.

Who are the adult at-risk groups for meningococcal disease?

Adults with the following ‘at-risk conditions may be eligible for free meningococcal B and meningococcal ACWY vaccines under the National Immunisation Program:

  • Non-functioning or no spleen
  • Complement deficiency
  • Patients undergoing treatment with eculizumab

Your doctor or vaccination provider can advise if you have a specified medical risk condition

Who are the adult at-risk groups haemophilus influenzae type b?

The Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine is recommended and funded under the NIP for adults and children over 5 years of age who have no spleen or a non-functioning spleen, if they were not fully vaccinated in early childhood according to the Hib vaccination recommendations for infants and children.

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

Yes. The National Immunisation Program (NIP) includes additional vaccination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults.

In addition to the other routine vaccinations offered throughout life, all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over are eligible for a free annual influenza vaccine. Pneumococcal vaccination is also recommended and funded for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are aged 50 years and above.8 You should speak with your healthcare professional about which vaccinations you may be eligible for.

Is there an at-risk programme for pregnant women

Yes

Influenza vaccine is free for pregnant women as part of the National Immunisation Program. It is recommended during every pregnancy and can be given at any stage of your pregnancy.

A vaccine against pertussis (whooping cough) is also free for pregnant women. It is usually administered as a single dose between 20 and 32 weeks during each pregnancy.

Is there an at-risk programme for older adults (> 65 years of age)?

Yes, older adults have their own specific vaccination needs.

See https://vaccinehub.com.au/age/older-adult

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

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Sources & Citations

  1. National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance. Adult vaccination. Available at: http://www.ncirs.org.au/sites/default/files/2018-12/adult-vaccination-fact-sheet.pdf Date accessed: 8 July 2020

  2. 2020 influenza vaccines. Clinical advice for vaccination providers.   https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/03/2020-national-immunisation-program-influenza-vaccines-clinical-advice-for-vaccination-providers_0.pdf Date accessed: 8 July 2020

  3. 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  Date accessed: 8 July 2020

  4. Australian Immunisation Handbook. Influenza. Available at: https://immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au/vaccine-preventable-diseases/influenza-flu  Date accessed: 8 July 2020

  5. National Immunisation Program. Pneumococcal vaccination schedule from 1 July 2020. Clinical decision tree for vaccination  providers.  https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/06/national-immunisation-program-pneumococcal-vaccination-schedule-from-1-july-2020-clinical-decision-tree-for-vaccination-providers-national-immunisation-program-pneumococcal-vaccination-schedule-from-1-july-2020-clinical-de.pdf  Date accessed: 8 July 2020

  6. National Immunisation Program. Meningococcal vaccination schedule from 1 July 2020. Clinical advice for vaccination providers.  https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/national-immunisation-program-meningococcal-vaccination-schedule-from-1-july-2020-clinical-advice-for-vaccination-providers  Date accessed: 8 July 2020

  7. https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/06/atagi-clinical-advice-on-vaccination-recommendations-for-people-with-risk-conditions-from-1-july-2020_0.pdf Date accessed: 8 July 2020

  8. National Immunisation Program Schedule for all indigenous people. 1 July 2020. https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/06/national-immunisation-program-schedule-for-all-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-people.pdf  Date accessed: 8 July 2020

  9. Australian Government. Department of Health. Immunisation for pregnancy.  https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/immunisation/immunisation-throughout-life/immunisation-for-pregnancy Date accessed: 8 July 2020

MAT-AU-2000009 - Date of preparation July 2020 

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