Most people think vaccinations are only for children. But vaccinations are just as important for adults. However, many adults don’t know what vaccines they need. Various life situations, and even different jobs, need different levels of protection. So, it’s good to know what vaccinations are recommended for you.
Regardless of your situation, you should get the influenza (flu) vaccine every year. As most of us know, the flu is a highly contagious and serious respiratory illness. It can even have deadly complications.
The flu vaccine is free for a number of groups. This includes children aged 6 months to under five years, pregnant women, people 65 and over, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and those with medical reasons that increase their risk.
If you’re in your twenties and you didn’t get the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in your teens, you should get one now. It will help protect you against many types of the HPV virus that are linked to cervical and other cancers.
Mums-to-be and new parents
If you’re pregnant, it’s recommended you get the flu and whooping cough vaccinations to protect you and your baby. They are both free for pregnant women.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning a pregnancy, make sure you speak to your doctor before being immunised.
It is also recommended that anyone who might be in close contact with a newborn baby gets a whooping cough vaccine or a booster dose if they haven’t had one in 10 years.
As we get older, it is harder for our immune system to fight off infections. Because of this, it’s important to keep our vaccinations up to date. Queenslanders aged 65 years and older are encouraged to receive their free vaccinations for influenza. Free shingles and pneumococcal vaccinations are also available for adults aged 70 and older.
Different shots are effective for varying lengths of time, so through life you’ll need an occasional booster (an extra dose of a vaccine that you’ve had before). Depending on your age and what vaccinations you had when you were younger, there are several diseases you may need boosters for. This includes diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough. Speaking with your doctor will help you know which shots to get.
Catching up on missed vaccinations
If you missed childhood vaccinations, you should talk to your doctor about catching up.
You might like to know that if you were born during or since 1966, and you missed one or both of your measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccines, you’re eligible for a free measles vaccination. If you are unsure, just ask your doctor.
If you’re heading overseas, you might need different vaccinations depending on where you’re going, and how long you’re staying. Even if you’re overseas to visit friends or family, you are still at risk from preventable diseases. So, make sure you speak to your doctor about vaccinations between 6 to 12 weeks before your trip. You can also find info on specific countries at smarttraveller.gov.au.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
If you’re Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, you can get annual flu vaccinations from 6 months of age, free of charge. And if you’re 50 or over, you can also get a free vaccination protecting against pneumococcal disease.
Medically at-risk groups
Some people have a higher risk of infection, or they are more resistant to treatment (such as chemotherapy patients or those without a functioning spleen), so additional vaccinations can help support their immunity. If this is you, or if you are not sure about your situation, speak to your doctor for individual advice.
Refugees and other humanitarian entrants
Refugees and other humanitarian entrants who are under 20 years old are eligible to receive all vaccines listed on the National Immunisation Program for free. If you don’t have a documented history of your vaccinations, you should speak to your doctor to plan a catch-up vaccination schedule.
Some jobs, such as healthcare and emergency work, increase the risk of exposure to certain diseases or increase the risk of spreading diseases to vulnerable people. If this is you, you might need specific vaccinations to increase your immunity. Your workplace should be able to give you information about what you require and how to get them.
Find out more
It’s tricky remembering what vaccinations you’ve had and when you’re due for another. The Immunisation Schedule Queensland can guide you through what vaccinations are required to make sure you have the best protection through all stages of life. To find out what vaccinations you have had, you can click here.