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Immunisation for seniors

Health professionals

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About vaccines for seniors

Vaccination for seniors aged 65 years or over is just as important as it is for children. The vaccines you need will depend on several things, including:

  • whether you missed out on childhood vaccines
  • if you are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • your job
  • how old you are
  • whether you plan on travelling.

Speak to your doctor or vaccination provider about your or your family’s specific needs.

Some recommended vaccines are funded through the National Immunisation Program (NIP), or state and territory programs, while other vaccines can be purchased privately with a prescription.

Catch-up vaccines

The vaccines listed below are part of the routine childhood schedule and generally adults won’t need boosters.  If they were unavailable during your childhood, or you are unsure about your vaccination history, speak to your doctor about your specific situation.

Additional vaccines

The following vaccines are recommended to adults who are aged over 65 years old.

Flu (influenza)

Influenza or the flu is a very contagious infection of the airways. It is especially serious for people more than 65 years old.

The flu vaccine is free through the NIP for seniors aged 65 years and over. The flu virus strains change every year and the vaccine changes every year to match these strains. That’s why it’s important for people to get the vaccine every year.

Visit the Flu immunisation service page for information on receiving the flu vaccine.

Shingles (herpes zoster)

Shingles (also called herpes zoster) is a disease caused when the chickenpox virus reactivates. Shingles can cause severe pain that can last for months.

The shingles vaccine is recommended for adults aged 60 years or more who have not previously been vaccinated. The vaccine is free through the NIP for people aged 70 years with a catch-up for people aged 71 to 79 years until October 2021. 

Find out more in the Protect yourself against shingles brochure.

Visit the Shingles immunisation service page for information on receiving the shingles vaccine.

Pneumococcal disease

Pneumococcal disease is a bacterial infection. It is especially serious for older people. It can cause pneumonia, infection of the blood and inflammation of the membranes around the brain (meningitis).

The pneumococcal vaccine is free through the NIP for adults aged 65 years old or more.  

Visit the Pneumococcal immunisation service page for information on receiving the pneumococcal vaccine.

Booster vaccines

A booster is an extra dose of a vaccine that you have had before that 'boosts' the immune system. 

The following vaccinations need booster doses.

Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis)

Diphtheria and tetanus vaccinations are given as diphtheria-tetanus (dT) or diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis) vaccinations.


Tetanus is a serious disease that causes severe muscle spasms, especially in the neck and jaw (called lockjaw). It can sometimes cause death.

A booster dose of a tetanus-containing vaccine is recommended for adults who:

  • are aged 50 years old or over who have not received a vaccine that has tetanus in the past 10 years (but have previously completed a primary course of 3 doses)
  • have tetanus-prone wounds (any wound that is not a clean, minor cut) if your previous dose was more than 5 years ago.

Whooping cough (pertussis)

Whooping cough (pertussis) is serious disease that can lead to pneumonia, brain injury and sometimes death. It can affect people at any age, but is especially serious for babies.

A single booster dose of a whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine is recommended for adults who have not been vaccinated for the past 10 years if:

  • you are aged 65 years old or more
  • you are in close contact with infants.

Find out more

For more information about receiving these vaccines, visit the below pages:

Medically at-risk

People with specific medical conditions may require additional vaccines. Your doctor will advise if you need any additional vaccines.

Last updated: 
1 August 2018