​​​In adulthood it is important to ensure on-going protection against vaccine preventable diseases. The following information provides advice on specific diseases that are important to be protected against in adulthood.


Shingles is a painful blistering rash caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus – the same virus that causes chickenpox.

Shingrix is available to the following eligible Australians under the National Immunisation Program:

  • adults aged 65 years and over    
  • First Nations people aged 50 years and over   
  • immunocompromised people aged 18 years and over with conditions placing them at 'high risk' of herpes zoster infection these conditions include;
    • haemopoietic stem cell transplant
    • solid organ transplant
    • haematological malignancy
    • advanced or untreated HIV  ​

Shingrix is recommended as a 2 dose schedule, 2 to 4 months apart. However, people who are immunocompromised are recommended to receive 2 doses, 1 to 2 months apart. It is important to receive both doses for best protection.

Detailed information is available on ​Shingles (herpes zoster) vaccine 

Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)

Measles outbreaks occur in some communities mainly as a result of unvaccinated travellers and visitors importing the disease from overseas. It is therefore important to ensure that you are adequately protected and the following should be considered:

  • most people born before 1966 will have been exposed to wild measles virus and therefore do not require vaccination
  • people born after 1966 require two doses of MMR vaccine (at least one month apart).

Detailed information is available on Measles, Mumps and Rubella.

Whooping cough (Pertussis)

It is important that adults are vaccinated against whooping cough to ensure adequate protection against this disease. Despite whooping cough immunisation programs being in place, epidemics can occur every three to four years, but in vaccinated populations the outbreaks are smaller.

Whooping cough vaccination in adults also offers protection for babies who are too young to be immunised in their first few weeks of life. Anyone can be affected but it is more severe (and can be fatal) in small babies.

A history of having this disease does not mean life-long immunity, therefore vaccination is still necessary. All persons who have received a course of diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough vaccine as a baby (usually given at 6-8 weeks, 4 months and 6 months of age) require booster doses at 18 months, 4 years, 12 years (in the NSW School Vaccination Program) and 50 years of age. All adults aged over 65 years of age require a booster dose if 10 years have passed since their last dose. If you are unsure, please discuss your vaccination needs with your doctor.

Whooping cough vaccination during pregnancy

Free whooping cough vaccine is available for pregnant women. The vaccine is usually given to pregnant women at 28 weeks (can be given anytime between 20-32 weeks) of each pregnancy and should be given as early as possible (from 20 weeks) to women who have been identified as being at high risk of early delivery. It is available through antenatal clinics, general practitioners (GPs) and Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs).

International studies have found that whooping cough vaccination during pregnancy is safe and effective for both the mother and baby. Vaccination is best given at 20-32 weeks to provide time for antibodies to be produced and passed on to the baby to provide protection until it is able to have its own vaccinations from 6 weeks of age.

Family members and carers who will have close contact with babies in their first weeks of life should receive a whooping cough vaccine, either from an appropriately trained pharmacist or on prescription from a GP, at least two weeks before having contact with the baby unless they have received a dose in the previous 10 years and all children should be up to date with their vaccinations.

For more information, please see Protect Your Newborn From Whooping Cough.


Tetanus (also called lock-jaw) is a serious disease caused by a bacteria (Clostridium tetani) often found in soil. The bacteria can enter wounds and causes severe muscle spasms, especially in the neck and jaw.

Tetanus vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect people from tetanus. The tetanus vaccine comes in a combination vaccine in Australia that also protects against other diseases such as diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).

The Australian Immunisation Handbook recommends tetanus vaccination for specific groups, including routine vaccination in infants, children and adolescents, routine booster vaccination in adults (including travellers to countries where health services are difficult to access), people who have a tetanus-prone wound and people who have missed doses of tetanus-containing vaccine. Adults are recommended to receive a tetanus booster dose if they are 50 years of age and have not received a booster dose of tetanus-containing vaccine in the past 10 years.

Tetanus combination vaccine is free under the National Immunisation Program for children at 6 weeks, 4 months, 6 months, 18 months and 4 years of age. It is also given to adolescents at 12-13 years of age in the NSW School Vaccination Program. Eligible people under 20 years of age and refugees and other humanitarian entrants of any age can get a free catch-up vaccination if they did not receive the vaccine in childhood.

Further information about combination tetanus-containing vaccines in Australia is available on the NSW Health Tetanus Factsheet, Australian Immunisation Handbook and Australian Government website.

Pneumococcal disease

A single dose of pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for ​non-indigenous adults ≥70 years of age and Aboriginal and Tores Strait Islander adults aged 50 years and over. Adults who have not received a dose at the recommended age should have a single catch-up dose as soon as possible. Aboriginal and Tores Strait Islander people and adults who have a medical condition (for example, cardiac, liver and congenital diseases) are at risk of catching this disease and should discuss this with their doctor as soon as possible as they may require additional vaccinations to ensure that they are adequately protected.

For more information refer to Pneumococcal disease.


Annual seasonal influenza vaccination is recommended for any person aged 6 months and over who wishes to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill with influenza. Fact sheets about influenza disease and influenza vaccination and frequently asked questions (FAQs) about influenza vaccines are available. Australian Government advice and recommendations on the National Influenza Vaccination Program are available from the Australian Government's Immunisation website , as are links to Australian Government resources (including factsheets, posters and brochures). NSW Health and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) have prepared a webinar on influenza.

Q fever

Q Fever is caused by a bacterium, Coxiella burnetii, that can be spread to humans from cattle, sheep and goats. Workers in the meat and livestock industries are most at risk of Q Fever.

From 15 April 2024, vaccination providers can report Q fever (Q-VAX) vaccines and natural immunity information to the AIR. This will support the closure of the Australian Q Fever Register (Q Fever Register). The Q Fever Register is owned and funded by the Australian Meat Processor Corporation and administered by AUS-MEAT.

Vaccination providers will no longer be able to report Q fever vaccine information to the Q Fever Register. Instead, providers should report this information to the AIR.

Current as at: Thursday 13 June 2024
Contact page owner: Immunisation