Immunise Australia Program
Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing
Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Immunise Australia Program. Information Line 1800 671 811
Immunise Australia Program. Information Line 1800 671 811

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander People

Information about immunisation and vaccination programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, adolescents and adults.


The Australian Government administers a number of immunisation programs for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples through the National Immunisation Program (NIP) and the National Indigenous Pneumococcal and Influenza Immunisation (NIPII) Program.

Vaccination for our Mob, a summary report prepared by the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) in 2006, describes the national picture of vaccine coverage and vaccine preventable disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. For other immunisation publications concerning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, see thePublications & Resources page.

Please refer toPart 3.1 Vaccination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoplein theAustralian Immunisation Handbook 10thEdition 2013for more technical information.

Children

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in certain regions require extra protection against some diseases. Children from these states or territories should receive all the routine vaccines given to other children.

With the following differences and additions:

Seasonal Influenza (flu) vaccination program

From 2015 all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged six months to less than five years are eligible for a free flu shot. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are more likely than non-Indigenous children to be hospitalised and five times as likely die from flu related infections.Free flu vaccines are also available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over and people five to 15 years who have a specific medical condition that increases their susceptibility to the flu.

Free flu vaccines are available through community controlled Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS), state/territory immunisation clinics and general practitioners.

Pneumococcal infection

Invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) is a bacterial infection ofstreptococcus pneumoniaewhich may present as pneumonia, meningitis, blood poisoning and/or otitis media (ear infection). In some cases IPD can cause death.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, aged between 12 and 18 months, in Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia require a booster dose of the pneumococcal vaccine Prevenar 13(a 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in these areas are at higher risk of pneumococcal disease for a longer period than non-Indigenous children of a similar age.

This program does not apply to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania or the Australian Capital Territory where the rate of IPD is similar to that of non-Indigenous children.

Hepatitis A vaccination program

Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia incur a higher disease incidence than other jurisdictions. The Government provides all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children that are less than five years of age free hepatitis A vaccine. Two doses of vaccine are given between 12 and 24 months of age.

Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b)

In the Northern Territory and certain remote areas of South Australia the preferred vaccine is a specific type, called Hib PRP-OMP. This vaccine provides increased protection to very young infants and is used because there is an increased risk for this age group among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in these areas. This vaccine should be given at 2, 4 and 12 months of age, at the same time as other routine vaccines.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination Program

The national school-based HPV Vaccination Program, provided through the National Immunisation Program, has been extended to include males. From February 2013, males aged 12-13 years will receive the HPV vaccine at school on an ongoing basis. Males aged 14-15 years will also receive the vaccine as part of a catch-up program until the end of the 2014 school year. Females aged 12-13 years will continue to receive the vaccine at school.

More detailed information on the national school-based HPV Vaccination Program is available on the HPV Vaccination Program website. Image displays HPV school vaccination program badge

Adults

National Indigenous pneumococcal and influenza (flu) immunisation program (NIPII)

This program provides free pneumococcal and influenza vaccines, through community controlled Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS), State/Territory immunisation clinics and general practitioners, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Pneumococcal vaccine is free Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from 50 years and aged 15 to 49 years who are at high risk of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD).

Flu vaccine is free for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from six months to less than five years old and 15 years and over. The flu shot protects people and decreases hospitalisations and possible death from flu related infections.


Page last modified: 16 March, 2015