COVID-19 advice for older people and carers

Older people are most at risk of severe COVID-19 disease. People aged 75 years or older who have not had a COVID-19 vaccination in 6 months should have a booster dose. Learn about protecting yourself, vaccine recommendations, treatments and what support is available.

Older people are at risk

The risk of serious illness from COVID-19 increases with age. The rate is higher for those with other serious health conditions or a weakened immune system.

People living with dementia or some form of cognitive impairment are also at increased risk, as they might find it difficult to:

  • follow instructions to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19
  • alert others about potential symptoms
  • communicate verbally or express pain and discomfort.

Protecting yourself


COVID-19 vaccination, including booster doses, are free and strongly encouraged for older people.

Getting vaccinated is the best way to keep you, your family, friends, and the community safe.

As older people are more at risk of becoming seriously ill from the flu, we also recommend flu vaccination every year for:

  • older people
  • family and friends of older people
  • anyone working with older people, including in retirement villages.

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ATAGI advice on COVID-19 vaccine doses

If it has been 6 months since a COVID-19 vaccination or confirmed COVID-19 infection, an additional dose:

  • is recommended for people aged 75 years or older
  • should be considered for people aged 65 to 74 years, following discussion with your healthcare provider.

All COVID-19 vaccines are anticipated to provide benefit to eligible people. However, the monovalent Omicron XBB.1.5 vaccines are preferred over other vaccines for eligible people.

Read more on COVID-19 vaccines.


People who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are eligible for oral antiviral treatments, taken as tablets or capsules at home.

You may be eligible if you are:

  • aged 70 years and over, regardless of risk factors and with or without symptoms
  • aged 60 to 69 years, with one risk factor
  • aged over 50 years with 2 risk factors for developing severe disease
  • a First Nations person aged 30 years or over, with one risk factor
  • aged 18 years or older, with moderate to severe immunocompromise.

Talk to your health professional about your risk factors and treatment options.

Symptoms checker

You can use our COVID-19 symptom checker to find out whether you need to get tested or seek medical help.

If you have serious symptoms – such as difficulty breathing – call 000 and ask for an ambulance. Tell them if you have been in contact with anyone with COVID-19.

If you develop mild symptoms of COVID-19, you can:

  • call a doctor, and tell them about your symptoms and if you have had contact with someone with COVID-19
  • call the healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222 and speak to a nurse.

Medical appointments and medicines

Support is available if you need help for accessing: 

Aged care services during a COVID-19 outbreak

Aged care providers will continue to deliver services through in-home and residential care settings during a COVID-19 outbreak.

Providers will adapt how they deliver services to protect aged care residents and recipients, as well as staff.

Providers and their staff are trained to deliver safe services, including:

  • when and how to use personal protective equipment 
  • how to practise physical distancing during service delivery
  • how to prevent and control infections
  • how to manage an outbreak if one occurs.

Advice for residential aged care and visitors

Residents and visitors need to keep up to date with changes in residential aged care.

Managers, staff, family, friends and residents should work together to protect older people in residential aged care homes from COVID-19.

Read about keeping aged care residents safe from COVID-19.

Advice for in-home aged care services

If you access in-home aged care services through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme and Home Care Packages, your support will continue. In some cases, it might be delivered differently.

Read about the support available, urgent assistance and more.

 Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme

Older people who access residential aged care or Home Care Packages can be referred by an aged care service provider to a volunteer visiting network member in the local area.

Learn more about the Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme and how to register.

Head to Health

The Head to Health website has resources for people who need help coping with anxiety or worry.

It also provides links to trusted Australian online and phone supports, resources and treatment options.

Friend Line telephone support service

Friend Line is a free and anonymous telephone service for senior Australians to chat with a volunteer. Call 1800 4 CHATS (1800 424 287).

Beyond Blue 

Beyond Blue provides dedicated COVID-19 resources to help you manage your wellbeing and mental health.

Accredited mental health professionals provide a phone counselling service which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 1300 22 4636.

Advice for carers

During a COVID-19 outbreak, it is more important than ever for carers to support their loved ones.

It’s important to access the support you need to maintain your own health and wellbeing.

Carer Gateway

The Carer Gateway provides information or support when caring for an older person. Call 1800 422 737.

Respite care

Respite care is available through: 

  • the Carer Gateway on 1800 422 737 for emergency respite care
  • My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 for planned respite care.

Respite providers are trained to deliver respite services safely. This includes hand hygiene, physical distancing, use of personal protective equipment and monitoring health.

Some respite providers may reduce their services during a COVID-19 outbreak. This relates to centre-based day respite and cottage respite.


My Aged Care

If you need some help around the house or think it’s time to look into aged care homes, My Aged Care is here to help. Visit the My Aged Care website to find information about how to access aged care services. You can also call Monday to Friday, 8 am to 8 pm, and Saturday, 10 am to 2 pm.

Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) contact

Contact OPAN if you need advocacy support for government-subsidised aged care, or you’re a service provider seeking education about aged care rights and responsibilities. Call the number below to connect to the free advocacy service in your state or territory.

Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) National

TIS National is an interpreting service for people who do not speak English and for agencies and businesses that need to communicate with their non-English speaking clients.

Contact your local state and territory health departments for information about your local health system arrangements. 

If you have concerns about your health, speak to your doctor.

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