Background

As detailed in the Australian Immunisation Handbook [see Resources] it is recognised that there are higher rates of some vaccine preventable diseases in the Indigenous population. For this reason some vaccines are specifically recommended for use in Indigenous persons [e.g. Hepatitis A] or for administration to a broader age range than is recommended for non-Indigenous persons [e.g. Pneumococcal vaccines]. The recommendations for Indigenous children can also vary by state, so these recommendations are outlined in Tables 1 and 2 below.

Routine vaccines

Indigenous children are recommended to receive routine childhood vaccines as per NIP recommendations for ages 6-weeks, 4 and 6 months; 12 months; 18 months and 3.5 to 4 years of age.

There are a number of vaccines that are specifically recommended for Indigenous children (See Table 1 and 2 below):

Influenza vaccine

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 6 months to <5 years and adolescents and adults aged ≥15 years are at greater risk of influenza and its complications. There is a 3-fold increased risk of influenza and pneumonia in Aboriginal children, a 2-fold increased risk of hospitalised influenza and a 5-fold increase in mortality. Influenza vaccine is therefore an important vaccine to recommend for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Table 1: Additional vaccines recommended for Indigenous children in Victoria, due to their higher risk of disease

Disease Vaccine
Influenza National Immunisation Program Funded vaccine for all ATSI children aged ≥6 months to 5 years and ≥15 years. The vaccine is recommended but not funded for children aged 5-15 years* Annual vaccination, 2 doses in the first year if < 9-years
Pneumococcal Pneumococcal polysaccharide (23vPPV) recommended for ATSI persons aged 15–49 years with underlying conditions increasing the risk of IPD – see the Immunisation Handbook: see List 4.13.1 [link]
* The Flu vaccine is funded for all children aged ≥6 months at RCH, Melbourne

Table 2: Additional vaccines recommended for Indigenous children in other States in Australia, due to their higher risk of disease

Disease Vaccine
Tuberculosis BCG vaccine recommended for neonates living in areas of high TB incidence (Northern Territory, Queensland, northern South Australia)1 dose
Hepatitis A Children resident in the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia Recommended to receive 2 doses in the 2nd year of life (6-months apart)
Pneumococcal Children resident in the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia Booster dose of Pneumococcal conjugate (13vPCV) in 2nd year of life in addition to primary course (between 12-18 months)

Maternal vaccination

To try and minimise vaccine preventable diseases in pregnant women and their babies, we recommend ATSI women receive the seasonal influenza vaccine (any trimester) and a whooping cough containing booster (dTap- 3rd trimester, ideally between 28-32 weeks) antenatally [see below Resources: MVEC maternal vaccination]

Resources

Reviewed by: Margie Danchin (Senior Research Fellow, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute)

Date: October 2015

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre (MVEC) staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family’s personal health. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult a healthcare professional.