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Immunisation for adults

Health professionals

Find information that will help you deliver your service to your patients

About vaccines for adults

Vaccination for adults is just as important as it is for children. The information provided on this page is a general guide to immunisations for adults aged 20 to 64 years old.

The kind of vaccines you need will depend on several factors, 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. However, you should speak to your doctor or vaccination provider if the following vaccines were unavailable during your childhood, or you’re not sure whether or not you received them.

Additional vaccines

The Australian Government recommends the following vaccines for adults over a certain age.

Shingles (herpes zoster)

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation recommends the shingles vaccine for all adults aged 60 years or more, if you have not been vaccinated against varicella or shingles before.

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

Flu (influenza)

The flu (also called influenza) is a very contagious infection of the airways.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation recommends the flu vaccination for everyone aged six months or more.

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

This vaccine is also free through the NIP if you have a medical risk factor. See the medically at-risk section below.

Boosters

A booster is an extra dose of a vaccine that you have had before. It 'boosts' the immune system. The following vaccinations need booster doses.

Diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis)

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

Tetanus

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 more who have not received a vaccine that has tetanus in the past 10 years (but have previously completed a primary course of three tetanus doses)
  • with tetanus-prone wounds (any wound that is not a clean, minor cut) if your previous dose was more than five 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 whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine is recommended for adults who are in close contact with infants. This is if it has been more than 10 years since the previous dose.

Find out more

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

Medically at-risk

The flu vaccination is recommended for people with certain underlying medical conditions that increase their risk of serious influenza disease and complications.

Annual flu immunisation is free through the NIP for people aged six months old or over with medical conditions that makes them more likely to get severe influenza. These conditions include:

  • heart disease
  • chronic lung disease (including people with severe asthma who require frequent hospital visits)
  • chronic neurological conditions
  • impaired immunity
  • blood disorders caused by genetic changes (haemoglobinopathies)
  • diabetes
  • kidney disease.

Speak to your doctor if you are unsure if you have a medical condition that might increase your risk of serious influenza disease and complications.

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

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

Last updated: 
11 December 2017