We’re often reminded about vaccinating children – why it’s important and the ages we need to mark in our diaries – but let’s not forget sometimes adults need shots too. From the annual influenza shot to the pre-travel jabs, this is what you need to know about adult vaccinations.

The main things to remember are:

  • You might need some booster shots
  • Yes, the annual flu shot is worthwhile
  • You need to think about vaccinations when you’re planning a holiday overseas.

The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) breaks down what vaccines are available freely for some at-risk Australian adults.

“Currently only the seasonal influenza vaccine  and the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (for pneumonia) are funded under the National Immunisation Program (NIP),” it said.

“Zoster vaccine (for shingles, chickenpox and herpes) will be introduced to the NIP in November 2016.

“Some vaccines are funded through state and territory programs or through the workplace. Other recommended vaccines are purchased privately by the individual.”


Get boosted

While most of us would have received vaccines in school or during childhood, Queensland Health reminds us that “adults who have been immunised as children may need booster doses to maintain immunity from certain diseases such as whooping cough”.

It says you might require booster shots to remain protected from:

  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus
  • Whooping cough (pertussis)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Influenza
  • Measles, mumps and rubella
  • Pneumococcal disease
  • Chickenpox (varicella).

There are also firm recommendations and vaccine requirements for Yellow Fever and QFever.

Talk to your doctor about when you were last vaccinated and whether you might be due for a booster shot. You might need to get a blood test to determine your level of immunity to certain diseases.

Flu protection

There comes a time every year when you start to see posters at the doctor surgery, at schools and maybe even at work telling you to get the annual flu shot.

You should take the advice.

This year, Queensland was labelled the flu capital of the country and there was a wait on the most recent vaccine .

So, be sure to know where you can access the vaccine and make a plan to get the shot.

Remember, the flu shot is free for some Australians. You should speak to your doctor to find out if you’re eligible.

“The strains of flu virus can change from year to year,” the Federal Health Department says.

“The vaccine may also change to protect against the most recent flu virus strains. Even if the flu strains do not change, yearly vaccination is still recommended as immunity from flu vaccination is not long lasting.”

Travel safe

It’s not the most exciting part about planning a holiday to an exotic foreign location, but it has to be done – travel vaccinations.

The quickest way to figure out what you need for where you’re going is to consult the Travel Doctor site and use its location guide.

You might require booster shots or new vaccinations, but some things to remember include:

  • Vaccinations like rabies and Japanese encephalitis are often given as a course with several weeks between shots so plan ahead
  • These vaccines can be costly and are not covered under the NIP so add them into your travel budget
  • It’s better to be vaccinated at home than be stuck in a Balinese jungle or African desert without protection. As well as the obvious immediate dangers foreign infectious diseases present, you could be up for big medical bills and a long stay in quarantine.
  • Vaccination register to soon include adult information

The data collected on vaccinations in Australia is often the envy of the world. Professor Heath Kelly writes on The Conversation about the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR) and how “it allows gaps in vaccine coverage to be highlighted and, in turn, for targeted interventions to improve uptake”.

“The ACIR is to be gradually expanded in 2016 to become an Australian Immunisation Register (AIR), initially capturing vaccines given up to 19 years of age and then vaccines given at all ages,” the NCIRS said.

That will provide Australian health authorities with a robust picture of vaccination coverage across the population and assist them to protect us all against infectious diseases.