Adult vaccinations are needed for travel for certain areas ( Hepatitis A, Japanese Encephalitis and Yellow Fever) , for the workplace ( Hepatitis B), when reaching older age ( pneumococcus and shingles) , in pregnancy (influenza and whooping cough) ,following injury ( tetanus), and for those with medical conditions increasing their risks). The Australian Childhood Immunisation Register has been expanded to become an Australian Immunisation Register ( AIR) including vaccines given to adults since September 30 2016. ( the vaccination provider must put your vaccines on the AIR )


A recent study published in the Medical Journal of Australia has found approximately 4.1 million adult Australians are under-vaccinated each year, with adults contributing to the ongoing epidemics of vaccine-preventable diseases such as whooping cough and measles ( approximately half the cases of measles reported in Australia are in those 19 years and over).


1. Measles/Mumps/Rubella : recent measles cases have been reported in Sydney ,Perth, Victoria , NT and QLD. Most infections have been in travellers returning from Bali, but as measles is highly infectious a single case can spread to unvaccinated others on return. Mumps was diagnosed in 804 cases in Australia in 2017, mainly in people over 20 years of age and half of the cases were diagnosed in Western Australia. The vaccination is combined and commenced in 1968, but was not introduced as the current advised two-dose schedule until 1994. There are a number of adults not immune due to partial vaccination before 1994. For those who do not know whether they have have two vaccinations in their lifetime, there is no harm from having another vaccination, especially before travel to areas such as Bali. For those born before 1968, the current advice if that the vaccine is not required due to assumed immunity from acquired childhood infection.


2. Pertussis ( whooping cough) : the vaccination is combined with the tetanus and diptheria vaccination and is advised to be updated every 10 years and in each pregnancy no matter the gap in years between the pregnancies. Those who have contracted whooping cough are not thought to maintain immunity and are aso advised to maintain ten yearly vaccination. The vaccination is paticularyl recommended for those who will be in close contact with new babies who do not receive their first vaccination until 6-8 weeks of age and are very susceptible to the disease.


3.Tetanus : remains present world-wide and remains rare in Australia, there were 7 cases in 2016, 4 of these were in those over 40 years. This year there has been one case from NSW of a 7 year old contracting tetanus after her parents refused a tetanus booster as part of treatment for a tetanus-prone wound. The recommendation for travellers is for 10 yearly boosters.


4. Diptheria : is also rare in Australia,with only 8 cases recorded for 2016, all were over 20 years of age. The diptheria antigen is included in the tetanus and whooping cough booster.


5. Chickenpox : Last year 2 500 cases were reported in Australia, with 23% of those in people over 20 years of age. It is possible to check immunity with a simple blood test for those who are uncertain of their immune status, particularly those planning pregnancy, when chicken pox can be a very serious illness.


6. Influenza : The vaccine is updated each year to cover what is expected to be the dominant strain of flu virus circulating. The flu was reported as causing over 3000 deaths in Australia each year and many more hospitalisations.


7. Pneumococcal : vaccination is recommended for adults who have chronic illnesses predisposing them to infection, those over 65 years of age, Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders over 50 years of age, it is part of the supplied vaccinations on the adult vaccination schedule.


8. Shingles ( Herpes-Zoster) : a single dose is recommended for adults at 70 years of age, and now provided free as part of the vaccination schedule


9. Other vaccines : certain pre-existing conditions require additional vaccinations such as Meningococcal, HPV, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. There are occupations requiring specialised addition vaccines, such as rabies vaccine and Q fever vaccine.


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