A pregnant woman happily walking down a sunny beach.

Select a category below to browse relevant vaccine information and FAQs

Pregnancy or planning a baby

During pregnancy, both you and your unborn baby can be more vulnerable to serious harm from some infectious diseases. Your immunisations should be up-to-date before you become pregnant. Those close to you should be immunised too.

If you’re planning a pregnancy, it’s a good time to talk to your doctor about immunisations and which immunisations you may need.

  • The following immunisations are recommended by experts, before pregnancy, but aren’t funded under the National Immunisation Program (NIP). Please select a disease or speak to your doctor to learn more.

    Chickenpox (varicella)

    With its typical red blistering and itchy rash, chickenpox is a highly contagious but generally mild infection, which can cause serious complications in some people.

     Learn more

    Influenza (flu)

    This highly contagious viral infection can affect anyone and can lead to serious illness. A flu vaccine is recommended every year.

     Learn more

    Measles

    Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that causes a rash and fever. It can lead to serious, sometimes fatal, complications.

     Learn more

    Mumps

    This viral infection causes swelling of the salivary glands and fever. While rare in Australia, immunisation is recommended to help prevent cases from occuring.

     Learn more

    Pneumococcal disease

    This potentially serious bacterial infection usually affects the very young and the elderly. Others can be at risk of complications, too.

     Learn more

    Rubella

    Also called German measles, rubella is generally a mild infection. Yet it can have serious, lifelong consequences for unborn babies or can lead to miscarriage.

     Learn more

  • The following immunisations recommended during pregnancy are funded under the National Immunisation Program (NIP). Please select a disease or speak to your doctor to learn more.

    Diphtheria

    While now extremely rare in Australia thanks to immunisation, diphtheria continues to cause illness overseas. It can cause life-threatening complications.

     Learn more

    Influenza (flu)

    This highly contagious viral infection can affect anyone and can lead to serious illness. A flu vaccine is recommended every year.

     Learn more

    Tetanus

    Caused by bacteria commonly found in soil and manure, tetanus is a very serious disease. Immunisation is recommended to help protect against tetanus.

     Learn more

    Whooping cough (pertussis)

    More contagious than the flu, whooping cough affects people of all ages. It can cause serious disease in babies and complications in older adults.

     Learn more

The Australian National Immunisation Program (NIP) outlines a series of free immunisations given at specific times throughout your life. In addition to these vaccines, there are a number of other vaccines that are recommended by experts but need to be paid for out of pocket. Some vaccines are also provided for free through your State or Territory Health Department.

Click on the diseases below and speak to your doctor to learn more about the immunisation schedule and recommendations.

  •  Immunisation funded via the National Immunisation Program (NIP)
  •  Immunisations may be recommended by experts but is not funded

Diseases All adults Planning for a baby Pregnancy 65 and over 70 to 79 years Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander adults
Chickenpox (varicella)            
 
Diphtheria            
 
Hepatitis B            
 
Measles            
 
Meningococcal ACWY disease            
 
Meningococcal B disease            
 
Mumps            
 
Pneumococcal disease+            
Pneumococcal vaccine is recommended and funded for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at 50 years of age, with a second dose recommended five years later. All non-Indigenous people can receive a free vaccine at 65 years of age. Women planning pregnancy who have risk factors for pneumococcal disease, including smokers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, should be assessed for pneumococcal vaccination.
Rubella            
 
Shingles (Herpes zoster)+            
The herpes zoster (shingles) vaccine is funded for adults aged 70 years, with a short-term catch-up program for adults aged 71-79. It is also recommended (but not funded) for all adults over 60 years of age.
Tetanus            
 
Whooping cough (pertussis)            
 
Annual flu+            
The influenza vaccine is recommended annually for all adults, and is funded for pregnant women (during any stage of pregnancy), people aged 65 and over, people with certain medical conditions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • 3
  • 4

Immunisations for refugees and new arrivals

For those new to Australia, there is a catch-up program to provide immunisation against some diseases, however it will depend on your circumstances. Please speak to your doctor to learn more.

Immunisations for those at increased risk

For people with certain medical conditions, occupations or behaviours, it’s recommended that you are immunised against some additional diseases, including (but not limited to) flu, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type B, human papillomavirus (HPV), meningococcal disease and pneumococcal disease. You may be eligible for free vaccination. Please speak to your doctor to learn more.

  • You may experience some side effects after immunisation. Most are mild, short-lived and clear within a few days.

    Common side effects can include:

    • a sore arm
    • fever
    • pain and redness at the injection site.

    Severe side effects like an allergic reaction are rare. If you think you are experiencing a severe reaction, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.

    Remember, vaccines help to protect against potentially serious and fatal diseases. If you have any concerns about the side effects of vaccines, please speak to your doctor.

  • In Australia, immunisation is not compulsory but not having your child fully vaccinated may affect Government benefits or enrolment in childcare or kindergarten. Immunisation is strongly recommended for two reasons:

    • it helps protect your child or yourself from potentially serious diseases
    • high rates of immunisation also help protect those who cannot be immunised (for example, those with a weakened immune system).

    Speak to your doctor for more information.

  • The NIP is a schedule of vaccines that are provided for free by the Australian government, to help protect against 17 different diseases.

    Many of the vaccines are given in early childhood and others through to adulthood. It’s recommended that you stick as closely as possible to the NIP schedule to get the most benefit from the program.

  • Vaccines generally contain dead, severely weakened forms or specific parts of the germ that causes disease. They are designed to teach your immune system to fight any future infections. 

    When the vaccine enters your body – either via a needle or oral dose – your immune system gets to work and produces antibodies that are able lock onto and destroy the germ. Your immune system is then able to remember the germ and produce those antibodies to destroy it if you get infected again.

    In short, vaccines strengthen and train your immune system to help protect you against harmful diseases.

  • Vaccines are given for potentially serious and fatal diseases that were common in Australia before immunisation was available. The germs that cause these diseases are still around – yet, thanks to high rates of immunisation in the community, most of these diseases are fortunately very rare. Continuing immunisation is important to keep it that way.

    Don’t forget, in some countries, these vaccine-preventable diseases are still common and can be brought into Australia by travellers.

  • Before you become pregnant, it’s recommended that you are immunised against:

    • chickenpox
    • hepatitis B
    • measles
    • mumps
    • rubella (German measles)
    • annual influenza (flu)
    • pneumococcal disease (in some cases). 

    You may already have immunity to some or all of the above diseases. With some vaccines you should not fall pregnant within 28 days following immunisation. Speak to your doctor as soon as possible to find out if you need any immunisations before trying for a baby.

    To find out more about which immunisations are recommended when planning a pregnancy, please see our planning a baby section.

  • Your immunity against some diseases (like whooping cough) decreases as you get older – in which case you may need a booster dose. 

    Also, you may not have received all your vaccines or vaccine doses during childhood, which means you may not be protected against some diseases.

    If you’re at all unsure, speak to your doctor about your immunisation history.

    To find out more about which immunisations are recommended when planning a pregnancy or during pregnancy, please see our planning a baby or pregnancy section.

  • In the first years of life, babies are more vulnerable to contracting diseases from the adults around them because their immune systems are not fully developed.

    To help protect your baby, your partner and any other adult who will be in close contact with your little one should speak to their doctor about recommended immunisations.

  • It depends on the immunisation. With some, you need to wait at least 28 days after the last vaccine dose before you become pregnant.

    With this in mind you should speak to your doctor as soon as possible if you are planning a pregnancy.

    To find out more about which immunisations are recommended when planning a pregnancy, please see our planning a baby section.

  • When you are vaccinated for whooping cough and the flu during pregnancy, your antibodies transfer from you to your unborn baby. These antibodies help protect your baby after birth for only a short time, when they are too young to be vaccinated themselves. This immunity usually wears off eventually which is why babies also need immunisations.

    In the case of whooping cough, the first dose for babies is generally given at 2 months. For the flu, the first dose is recommended at 6 months. Before this time, if you did not receive a vaccine during pregnancy, they can be more vulnerable to these serious diseases.

    To find out more about which immunisations are recommended during pregnancy, please see our pregnancy section.

    Please discuss your individual situation and any specific concerns with your doctor.

  • Infectious diseases can affect anyone. It’s often recommended that adults get immunised. Generally, it’s when you fall into one of these categories:

    • Those with underlying medical risks or chronic illnesses
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
    • Women planning a pregnancy, pregnant women, or those who are becoming a new parent or carer
    • People born overseas
    • Certain age groups e.g. adults aged 65 years of age and over
    • Overseas travellers
    • Certain lifestyles e.g. men who have sex with men, those who take recreational drugs
    • Work environments e.g. working closely with infants and children, healthcare workers.

    This is not a complete list. Your doctor can talk to you about your risk of vaccine-preventable diseases and will be able to advise if you should be immunised.

  • Like all medicines, vaccines are not 100% effective. Therefore, there may still be a chance that an immunised person can get the disease - although usually with less severe symptoms than if they’d had no immunisation.

    Don’t forget, the chances of exposure to a disease are reduced in communities where most people are immunised.

  • Immunisations for some vaccine-preventable diseases are not routinely funded on the National Immunisation Program (that is, they are not available for free). Yet they may still be recommended for overseas travel, particularly to developing countries.

    The immunisations you may need depend on where you’re going. To learn about diseases common in particular countries, you can browse our travel section. Please note that this is a guide only.

    Remember, our travel map is only a guide. It’s important to speak to your doctor or visit a travel clinic at least 6 to 8 weeks before you travel. Take along your full itinerary – including areas that might be 'off the beaten track' – so your doctor can best assess your needs.

AUS/VAC/0106/18, AUS/VAC/0056/18 Date of Approval November 2018