Vaccination is a simple and 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 vaccines are provided free to older adults via the National Immunisation Program. These include influenza vaccine for people 65 years and older, and the pneumococcal and shingles vaccines for those over 70.
Commonly asked questions
The Australian Government recommendations for adults are:
|Pneumococcal disease||A single dose for adults aged 70 years and over||Free to those eligible on the National Immunisation Program|
|Shingles (Herpes zoster)||A single dose for people aged 70 years of age, OR if you are over 70 and have not yet been vaccinated, a single catch-up dose is available for those aged between 71 to 79 year olds until 31 October 2023||Free to those eligible on the National Immunisation Program|
An annual dose is recommended for all older adults
High-immunogenicity influenza vaccines are available to adults over 60 years of age. Adults 60-64 years of age may choose to receive a standard flu vaccine*, or a high-immunogenicity flu vaccine on private prescription.
Free to those eligible on the National Immunisation Program.
A fee may apply to adults 60-64 years of age.
|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 3 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|
*Unadjuvanted standard dose vaccine.
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.
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 70 years and over.
A single dose is available for 70 year olds. Until 31 October 2023, a single catch-up dose is also available for adults aged 71 to 79 years.
- Influenza (the flu):
Seasonal influenza vaccine once a year.
Note that a consultation fee may apply.
As we age, our immune response naturally decreases, and we are also more likely to have chronic health conditions. What this means is that older people are more likely to experience severe disease or complications if they catch the flu.
Older adults are also more likely to suffer from serious complications caused or triggered by flu infection such as pneumonia, heart attack and stroke.
Having a decreased immune response also means that the standard flu vaccine* may not protect older people from the flu as well as it protects younger people. That’s why new flu vaccines have been specially developed to produce a better immune response in older people. These vaccines offer better protection from the flu and its complications to people over 60 years of age.
The Australian Department of Health strongly recommends that older Australians receive an
annual flu vaccine.
Pneumococcal disease refers to the group of illnesses that can be caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacterium commonly known as pneumococcus.
Most pneumococcal infections are mild, however some can cause serious disease, complications and 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)
- bacteraemia (presence of bacteria in the blood)
In adults, pneumonia accounts for more than one-third 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 28-55% of cases. Although the least common presentation in children, pneumococcal meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain) is a serious complication.
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.
Sources & Citations
- Australian Government. Department of Health. Why get immunised? Available at: https://campaigns.health.gov.au/immunisationfacts/why-get-immunised (accessed 21 May 2020).
- Australian Government. Department of Health. Immunisation for seniors. Available at: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/immunisation/immunisation-throughout-life/immunisation-for-seniors (accessed 21 May 2020).
- Victorian Government. Better Health. Pneumococcal disease. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/pneumococcal-disease (accessed 21 May 2020).
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Grandparents Can Help Protect Against Whooping Cough with Tdap Vaccine. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/downloads/matte-grandparents.pdf (accessed 21 May 2020).
- Health Direct. Flu vaccine FAQs. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/flu-vaccine-faqs (accessed 21 May 2020).
- ACT Government. Health. Know the facts about the influenza vaccine. Available at: https://health.act.gov.au/services-and-programs/immunisation/influenza-flu/know-facts-about-influenza-vaccine (accessed 21 May 2020).
MAT-AU-2300340, Date of preparation March 2023Show All