When adults should be vaccinated
Wednesday 19 June 2019
Vaccinations aren’t done and dusted once we leave school, and yet many Queenslanders are unaware of the vaccines they can access in adulthood.
To provide the best protection against vaccine-preventable diseases, vaccinations are needed at different times in both childhood and adulthood. Certain situations, and even different jobs, call for additional protection, which is why it’s important to be across the recommendations.
We’ve broken down the recommended vaccinations for adults at different ages, life stages, and situations so you know what you’re eligible for.
Every year, all adults are encouraged to get the influenza (flu) vaccine. Annual vaccination is the best protection against the flu, which is a highly contagious and serious respiratory illness with potentially deadly complications.
The flu vaccine is available for free for pregnant women, people aged 65 years and over, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people who are at increased risk of severe complications from the flu, such as severe asthma, lung or heart disease, low immunity, or diabetes.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is available to both boys and girls in high school. Adults who didn’t receive the HPV vaccine in their teen years may benefit from being vaccinated in their 20s. The HPV vaccine protects against many types of the HPV virus, which is linked to cervical cancer and a range of other cancers.
Two vaccinations are recommended to help protect pregnant women and their babies:
- Influenza (the flu)
- Whooping cough – delivered as a combined diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine.
In Queensland, the whooping cough vaccine is free for pregnant women. It can be given at any time in the third trimester up to delivery, ideally between 20 and 32 weeks. Boosting mum’s immunity helps to protect their newborn baby until they are old enough to receive a whooping cough vaccination from six weeks of age.
Speak with your doctor before being immunised If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning a pregnancy.
Whooping cough booster doses are also recommended but not funded for partners, fathers, and other people who may be in close contact with a newborn and who haven’t had a booster in the last 10 years.
As we get older, it can be harder to fight off illnesses and infections, and we may be more prone to serious complications. That’s why it’s important to support our immune system through vaccinations.
Queenslanders aged 65 years and older are encouraged to receive their free vaccinations for:
Free shingles vaccinations are also available for adults in their 70s.
Different vaccines provide us with immunity for varying lengths of time. A booster is an extra dose of a vaccine that you’ve had before that ‘boosts’ the immune system. Booster doses help adults to maintain their immunity for a range of vaccine-preventable diseases.
Depending on your age, vaccination status, and individual situation, your doctor may recommend booster shots for:
If you were born during or since 1966 and missed one or both of your measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccines in childhood, you are eligible for a free measles vaccination. If you are unsure of whether you’re protected against measles, speak with your doctor.
Being vaccinated against measles not only protect you against this highly contagious and serious virus, but also helps prevents its transmission to babies who are too young to receive the vaccine.
If you missed other childhood vaccinations, talk with your doctor about creating a catch-up schedule.
You may need different vaccinations depending on where you travel to, and how long you’ll stay. Even if you’re travelling overseas to visit friends and family, you are still at risk of contracting preventable diseases. Sometimes, proof of vaccination is needed to enter a country.
Speak with your doctor about travel vaccinations well in advance of your trip (6-12 weeks), as some vaccines require multiple doses to provide immunity. You can also find guidance on country-specific vaccine recommendations on smarttraveller.gov.au.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
In addition to the general vaccine recommendations for Queensland adults, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to free flu vaccinations. For those aged 50 years and over, free pneumococcal disease vaccines are available.
Medically at-risk groups
Some people are at increased risk of infection, or may be more resistant to treatment, such as chemotherapy patients, or those without a functioning spleen. Additional vaccinations can help support their immunity and provide extra protection against exposure to others. Speak to your doctor for individualised advice.
Refugees and other humanitarian entrants
Refugees and other humanitarian entrants who don’t have documented history of vaccinations can receive all eligible National Immunisation Program Schedule vaccines for free. Speak to your doctor to plan your catch-up vaccination schedule.
Some workplaces and occupations, such as healthcare and emergency work, increase the risk of exposure to certain vaccine-preventable diseases or may increase the risk of infection transmission to vulnerable people. You may be required to receive certain vaccinations to reduce the risk of disease transmission.
Your workplace can provide information about what vaccinations are required and how to obtain them.
Speak with your doctor
It can be tricky to remember the vaccinations you’ve had, or if you’re due for a booster. Regular check-ups with your doctor is a great way to stay on top of your vaccinations and ensure you’ve got the best possible protection against vaccine-preventable diseases.
The Immunisation Schedule Queensland lists all funded vaccinations available to Queenslanders. It’s important to note that while these vaccines are funded, you may have to pay for your doctor’s visit. Other vaccinations may come at a charge, such as those needed before travelling overseas, or certain boosters.
If you’re due for a vaccination, or you’re unsure of your vaccine history, speak with your doctor.