Immunisation information for older people
People are at risk of contracting disease every day in the community.
Immunisation is considered the safest way of getting protected against some diseases, because it uses the body's own defence mechanism - the immune response - to build resistance to specific diseases.
Babies, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions and the elderly can be more vulnerable or susceptible to these diseases.
Adults who received immunisations when they were young may need booster immunisations to make sure they are still protected against some diseases.
The National Immunisation Program (PDF 71KB) recommends and funds vaccines for specific age groups from birth all the way through to 65 years of age and over.
Recommended vaccinations for older people
Currently vaccines are recommended for those people 65 years of age and older to protect against the following diseases:
The flu is a potentially fatal disease, particularly in people who are at risk of developing complications from the flu such as the elderly, the very young, those with chronic conditions such as heart and respiratory disease and diabetes.
The flu is spread by coughing and sneezing and by coming into contact with hands, tissues and other articles soiled by infected droplets.
The flu vaccine is free vaccine for those aged 65 years. As the virus changes each year vaccination is required annually.
Pneumococcal infection can cause diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis and infections of the bloodstream. This disease can be life threatening for the elderly, especially those with a chronic medical condition such as lung disease and diabetes.
Pneumococcal vaccination (Pneumovax 23 ®) is a free vaccine for people aged 65 years of age (for people who identify as Aboriginal, the recommendation to receive this vaccine is from 50 years of age).
Some people may need further doses, you may need to speak to your doctor about this.
Shingles (herpes zoster)
Herpes zoster or ‘shingles” is a localised, painful vesicular rash which is a re activation of the same virus that causes chicken pox earlier in life. Shingles is most common on the abdomen, sides and back, but can affect any part of the body.
From 1 November 2016 the shingles vaccine (Zostavax ®) is free a vaccine for people aged 70 years of age. There will also be a five year catch-up program for people aged 71 – 79 years until 2021.
Whooping cough (Pertussis)
Whooping cough is a highly contagious disease of the respiratory tract. It can be fatal for very young children. For adults it can be a debilitating disease resulting in a non-stop cough that lasts for several months and can lead to complications such as rib fractures and pneumonia. Outbreaks of whooping cough occur every 3 - 4 years.
As immunity from the whooping cough vaccine and disease reduces over time, all adults can be at risk of the disease. Boosters are required to protect against the disease in adulthood, especially for those who have close contact with children less than 6 months of age. Although highly recommended, this vaccine is not funded under the National Immunisation Program for older people.
Where can I get immunised?
Members of the public can access immunisations from General Practitioners and some council immunisations clinics.
For details of council immunisation clinics please contact your local council or the immunisation section.