Children with underlying cardiac disease are at increased risk of some vaccine preventable diseases, including influenza and invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD). IPD includes pneumonia, meningitis and bacteraemia, with those at highest risk being children with cyanotic heart disease or cardiac failure. Children under 17 years with cardiac disease are nearly 5 times more likely to get pneumococcal pneumonia compared to children with no at risk conditions (see Resources).

Vaccine recommendations

  • Routine childhood vaccines as per National Immunisation Program schedule
  • If children with cardiac disease are immunocompromised, live vaccines may be contradindicated (discuss with your treating doctor)
  • If children with cardiac disease have received blood products and/ or immunoglobulin (e.g. Kawasaki’s disease), live vaccines may need to be delayed. (see Live Attenuated Vaccines & Immunoglobulins or Blood Products)
  • If they are asplenic or have hyposplenism, some additional vaccines are recommended. (see Asplenia/Hyposplenia)
  • Vaccines should be given within recommended timeframes unless contraindicated due to medical treatment, including surgery (discuss with your treating doctor).
  • Recommended time intervals for vaccination before and after surgery –
    • Before surgery – 1 week for inactive vaccines; 3 weeks for live vaccines (e.g. MMR, Varicella)
    • After surgery – delay vaccination for 1 week
  • Additional vaccines –
  • If a child with cardiac disease is travelling overseas, particularly to high risk areas for vaccine preventable diseases, they should seek specialist travel advice. (see Travel Medicine)


Pelton SI, et al. Risk of Pneumococcal Disease in Children With Chronic Medical Conditions in the Era of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine. Clinical Infectious Diseases 2014; 59(5):615-23

The Australian Immunisation Handbook, 10th Edition 2013

Any immunisation queries directed to the treating doctor and/ or contact the Victorian Immunisation services Hotline 1300 882 924


Reviewed by: Margie Danchin & Kirsten Mitchell (Immunisation Service, RCH, Melbourne)
Date: April 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.

Melbourne University

Welcome to MVEC

The Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre (MVEC) is a new web-based initiative, providing up-to-date immunisation information for healthcare professionals, parents and the public.

It is a collaboration between The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) and its Melbourne Children’s campus partners (Murdoch Children's Research Institute and The University of Melbourne) and Monash Health.

MVEC aims to address common queries around vaccines and to promote the benefits of immunisation for both children and adults.