Immunisation for adults

Find out about immunisations for adults.

Vaccines for adults

The National Immunisation Program (NIP) schedule provides free routine vaccinations for adults. You may need booster doses of some vaccines to maintain high levels of protection. Most vaccines are more effective if delivered at a specific age.

The following vaccines are provided free to adults.



Pregnant women

Influenza and pertussis (whooping cough) – See Immunisation for pregnancy

All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults 50 years and over           

Pneumococcal and shingles

People 65 years and over

Influenza and shingles

People 70 years and over


Find more information:

Influenza vaccine

Influenza is especially serious for people 65 years and over, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults and people with specific medical conditions that increase their risk of serious influenza disease and complications.

The annual influenza vaccine is free through the National Immunisation Program for:

  • adults 65 years and over
  • all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults
  • people with specific medical conditions.

The influenza virus strains change every year – and the vaccine changes every year to match the new strains. That’s why it’s important for people to get the vaccine every year.

If you are not eligible for a free influenza vaccine, you can buy it privately through a GP or pharmacy.

Find more information:

Shingles (herpes zoster) vaccine

Shingles (also called herpes zoster) is a disease caused when the chickenpox virus reactivates. Shingles can cause severe nerve pain that can last for months.

The shingles vaccine Shingrix is free through the National Immunisation Program for eligible people most at risk of complications from shingles.

A 2-dose course of Shingrix is available for free for:

  • people 65 years and over
  • First Nations people 50 years and over
  • immunocompromised people 18 years and over with the following medical conditions:
    • haematopoietic stem cell transplant
    • solid organ transplant
    • haematological malignancy
    • advanced or untreated HIV.  

The Shingrix vaccine does not contain the live virus and is safe for people who are immunocompromised.

If you previously received a free Zostavax shingles vaccine under the NIP, you are not eligible for a free Shingrix vaccine for at least 5 years.

If you purchased the Zostavax vaccine privately you can receive the Shingrix vaccine for free under the program, if you’re eligible. 

You should wait at least 12 months between receiving Zostavax and getting the Shingrix vaccine.

Please discuss your eligibility for Shingrix with your health professional.

Find more information: Shingles (herpes zoster) vaccine

Pneumococcal vaccine

Pneumococcal disease is a bacterial infection. It is especially serious for older people. It can cause:

  • pneumonia
  • infection of the blood (sepsis)
  • inflammation of the membranes around the brain (meningitis).

The pneumococcal vaccine is free through the National Immunisation Program for:

  • adults 70 years and over
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults 50 years and over.  

Find more information: Pneumococcal vaccine

Adults with medical risk conditions

Some adults with specific medical risk conditions may require additional vaccines. Speak to your health professional about additional vaccines you may need.

Find more information: Immunisations for people with medical risk conditions

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are eligible to receive free pneumococcal vaccine, shingles vaccine and an annual influenza vaccine from 50 years of age, through the National Immunisation Program.

Please see your health professional for advice on what you may need and to discuss eligibility.

Find more information:

Missed vaccinations

The vaccines listed below are part of the routine childhood schedule:

Generally, adults won’t need boosters. We recommend you talk to your health professional if you are not sure if:

  • you have had all the recommended vaccines
  • you may need boosters
  • someone in your care may need additional vaccines or boosters.

Please note that the National Immunisation Program does not cover adults for missed vaccines. Missed vaccines can only be caught up to 20 years old (25 years old for the HPV vaccine). You can buy additional vaccines privately when you need to.

Refugees and other humanitarian entrants of any age can get National Immunisation Program vaccines for free. This is if they did not receive the vaccines in childhood and they are still clinically recommended.

Check the National Immunisation Program schedule and talk to your health professional if you have not had all the recommended childhood or adolescent vaccinations.

Booster vaccines

A booster is an extra dose of a vaccine that you have had previously. It 'boosts' your immune system. 

The following vaccinations need booster doses.

  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus
  • Whooping cough (pertussis)

Diphtheria and tetanus vaccinations are given as diphtheria-tetanus (dT) or diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis) vaccinations.

Tetanus is a serious disease that causes severe muscle spasms, especially in the neck and jaw (called lockjaw). It can sometimes cause death.

A booster dose of a tetanus-containing vaccine is recommended for adults who:

  • are 50 years or over
  • have not had a tetanus shot in the past 10 years
  • have a wound that is not a minor cut, and your previous dose was more than 5 years ago
  • have previously had a primary course of 3 doses.

Whooping cough (pertussis) is serious disease that can lead to pneumonia, brain injury and sometimes death. It can affect people at any age but is especially serious for babies.

Adults who have not had the whooping cough vaccine in the past 10 years should have a single booster dose if:

  • you are 65 years or older
  • you are in close contact with infants.

The National Immunisation program does not cover booster vaccines for adults and seniors. You can buy additional vaccines privately when you need to. Talk to your health professional if you think you or someone in your care may need additional vaccines.

Find more information:

Getting vaccinated

Find out more about getting vaccinated, including:

  • where you can get vaccinated
  • if you need to pay
  • who can be vaccinated
  • what to expect at your vaccination visit
  • side effects.
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