Most adults will receive fewer injections under the latest Australian Standard Vaccination Schedule published recently.
No more hepatitis B boosters
Hepatitis B is a viral infection of the liver, which can lead to liver cancer and liver failure. A course of three injections given over a 6-12 month period provides immunity (protection). Routine boosters (top-up shots) were previously given to maintain protection every five years.
Booster doses of hepatitis B are now no longer recommended as recent research has shown that the basic course gives long lasting protection. Boosters however are recommended for individuals with low immunity, renal failure or people living with HIV infection.
All babies and adolescents will now be routinely vaccinated against hepatitis B (see story below). Vaccination is also recommended for certain high-risk adult groups, such as household contacts, those at sexual risk, injecting drug users, people with chronic liver disease, health care workers and certain travellers.
Immunisation against Hepatitis A, another liver infection, is now thought to last at least 20 years and may also give lifelong protection.
Fewer routine tetanus boosters
Tetanus is a serious, often fatal infection causing painful spasms, convulsions and 'lockjaw'. It is caught from skin wounds, especially dirty, deep or infected injuries and burns.
Children receive five tetanus shots in their first five years and a booster at 15-19 years. Boosters were given previously every 10 years to adults. However, it is now recommended that only one routine booster be given at the age of 50.
If you are over 50 and have not had an injection in the last 10 years, see your doctor for a booster. If not fully vaccinated, you may need catch-up doses.
If you get a tetanus-prone wound, a tetanus booster is still required if your last tetanus shot was more than 5 years ago. Remember to clean and disinfect the wound quickly to reduce the risk.
Rubella shots for young women
Rubella is a mild viral infection in most cases. However, it can cause devastating damage to a developing baby in pregnancy. Currently two doses of rubella vaccine are given to children, one at 12 months and one at four years of age.
The guidelines recommend that all women of child-bearing age have a blood test to check immunity to rubella before they get pregnant. Even women previously vaccinated or infected should be tested and re-immunised if necessary. Young males who are not immune should also be vaccinated to prevent passing the virus to pregnant women.
Speak to your doctor about your needs.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.