Vaccines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

If you are a from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community living in certain areas of Australia, you are at greater risk of some infectious diseases (including tuberculosis [TB], flu, and pneumonia), and so you need extra protection against these infections.

So in addition to the vaccines recommended for all children, adults, and older people living in Australia, there are some extra vaccines that are recommended for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Children

Children living in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities should receive all the routine childhood vaccines, as well as the additional vaccines listed below.

Tuberculosis (TB) or Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine

Children living in the Northern Territory and far north Queensland are at higher risk of tuberculosis (TB) infection compared with children living elsewhere. TB is a serious bacterial infection, which can often be fatal if it is not treated.

The BCG vaccine that protects against TB is given free shortly after birth to all newborns living in these areas as part of the National Immunisation Program.

Hepatitis A vaccine

Hepatitis A (a viral infection that affects the liver) is more common in children living in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia, compared with children living elsewhere.

Free hepatitis A vaccines are available for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children younger than 5 years old who live in these areas.

Two doses of the hepatitis A vaccine are given when your child is between 12 and 24 months old.

Pneumococcal vaccine

Children living in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children communities in Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia are more at risk of long lasting pneumococcal infections (bacteria that can cause pneumonia and other serious infections) compared with children living elsewhere.

When your children are 12 to 18 months old, they should have a free booster dose of the pneumococcal vaccine (Prevenar 13).

Influenza vaccine

The annual flu vaccination is recommended for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 6 months to 5 years as they are more at risk of complications, hospitalisation and death due to flu infection and its complications.

Note that this vaccination is not funded by the National Immunisation Program. Find out more about the flu vaccine, who should have it, and its potential side effects.

Adults

Pneumococcal vaccine

You can have a free pneumococcal vaccines (Pneumovax 23) are available as part of the National Immunisation Program if you are:

  • 15 to 49 years old and at high risk of infection or the complications of infection
  • 50 years or older.

Read our information about the pneumococcal vaccine, who should have it and the potential side effects.

Flu (influenza) vaccine

If you are 15 years and older, you are eligible for a free influenza vaccination every year as part of the National Immunisation Program.

To find out more, read about the influenza (flu) vaccines and who can have a free flu vaccine.

Hepatitis B vaccine

Adults who have never been vaccinated against hepatitis B, are recommended to have the vaccination.

Note that the vaccination for adults is not funded by the National Immunisation Program.

Find out more about hepatitis B vaccine, who can have it and its potential side effects.

MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine

If you are a women of child bearing age living in rural and remote areas, and you have not had the MMR vaccination, you are recommended to have the vaccination before you conceive, to protect you from infection with measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles).

If you become infected with German measles while you are pregnant, you are at risk of miscarriage, and you are very likely to pass the infection to their unborn baby causing birth defects (congenital rubella syndrome).

Find out more about the MMR vaccine and rubella.

Reference