Vaccines and diseases

Brisbane City Council immunises for:

Adult whooping cough

The vaccine can be purchased from any Council community immunisation clinic for $40.70. Women in their third trimester of pregnancy can receive a free adult whooping cough vaccine through Council's community immunisation clinics.


Chickenpox is a mild disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus that lasts about five to 10 days. 
Children can be vaccinated from one to 13 years old. If a child is over the age of 14 and has never been immunised, two vaccines will be required. The vaccine protects about 90 percent of children. If the infection does occur after vaccination, it is usually mild.

People who should not get the vaccine include:

  • pregnant women
  • people with immune deficiency diseases (for example, HIV or AIDS)
  • people taking immune-suppressing medication.  

Side effects are rare, but about one in five people get a local reaction (redness or swelling at injection site) or fever, and one in 20 get a mild chickenpox-like rash.

The chickenpox vaccine is administered to children at 18 months of age. Council no longer offers the chickenpox vaccine through the school program (year 7). Catch-ups will be provided for 2016's years 7 and 8 (2017's years 8 and 9) only until the end of 2017. Alternatively, year 8 students can access the vaccine for free from their local doctor. The chickenpox vaccine cannot be given within four weeks of receiving another live vaccine (for example, Measles, Mumps and Rubella).

Diphtheria, Tetanus and whooping cough

Diphtheria is bacteria found in an infected person's mouth, nose and throat, which can cause difficulty swallowing and breathing. The bacteria releases a toxin that can cause paralysis and heart failure. Diphtheria is fatal in about 16 percent of cases.

Tetanus causes muscle spasms in the neck and jaw muscles (lockjaw) and can cause breathing difficulties and abnormal heart rhythms. It enters the body through puncture wounds. Tetanus is fatal in about two percent of cases in Australia. 

Whooping cough (pertussis) is a bacteria spread by coughing or sneezing. Whooping cough affects the air passages, which makes breathing difficult.

A combination vaccine diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis immunises against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. Side effects include:

  • irritability
  • a mild fever
  • redness and swelling at injection site
  • soreness at injection site.

The diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough vaccine component is administered to children at two, four, six and 18 months, and four years of age. A diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough vaccine (Boostrix) is available for all year 7 students through a school program. Children who missed the vaccination on the day at school can receive Boostrix through Council clinics, but only for a limited time after missing it. 

If a student has recently had an ADT (Adult Diphtheria Tetanus) or tetanus vaccine they still require a Boostrix vaccine as these vaccines do not have the pertussis component. It is safe to receive Boostrix even if ADT or tetanus was given recently, for example, in the last week or month.

Hepatitis A 

Hepatitis A is a liver infection and is mostly transmitted by the faecal-oral route.

Side effects of the hepatitis A vaccine are generally mild and can include:

  • soreness at injection site
  • fatigue
  • headache in adults.

Tests show vaccines are 98 percent effective and last for many years.

Children aged 12 to 18 months need two hepatitis A vaccine doses. All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children can receive free hepatitis A vaccinations at a Council children's immunisation clinic. All other children will need to see their GP. 

Hepatitis B 

Hepatitis B is a virus that affects the liver and is contracted through contact with blood or other body fluids, or from infected mother to neonate.  

Babies get immunised:

  • after birth
  • at two months
  • at four months
  • at six months.

Side effects after hepatitis B vaccination are generally minor and can include:

  • soreness at injection site
  • fever.

Haemophilus Influenzae Type B

The haemophilus influenzae (Hib) vaccine is given in a number of stages. The first dose of the Hib vaccine is normally given at two months of age. 

The Hib vaccine used in Australia contains a part of the Hib bacteria attached to a protein that stimulates the immune system.  

Possible side effects include:

  • mild swelling at injection site
  • redness at injection site
  • fever.

Human papillomavirus

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is spread by personal contact with a sufferer. 79 percent of people have experienced genital HPV infection (also known as genital warts). Most genital infections associated with HPV will not develop into cervical cancer.

The HPV vaccine 'Gardasil' protects against HPV in over 97 percent of cases. Gardasil is available to all year 7 students through Council's school program. 

Students that missed the vaccination at school can receive the Gardasil vaccine through Council clinics, but only for a limited time. An email/letter is sent advising of the catch-up dates.

Possible side effects include:

  • pain at injection site
  • redness at injection site
  • swelling at injection site
  • fever
  • nausea.


Influenza is a highly infectious viral disease that affects mainly the nose, throat, bronchi and occasionally the lungs. It is characterised by inflammation of the respiratory tract, fever, chills, muscular pain and headaches.

In 2019, Council will offer both a free and paid influenza program. The vaccine is available from mid-April.

The following groups are eligible to receive a free influenza vaccine through Council's clinics:

Quadrivalent influenza vaccines for:

  • all children aged 6 months to less than 5 years of age
  • pregnant women (at any stage of pregnancy)
  • All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
  • all individuals aged 6 months and over with medical conditions predisposing them to severe influenza
  • individuals up to 65 years.

Trivalent influenza vaccines (TIVs) are recommended for:

  • individuals aged 65 years and older.

People who are ineligible for a free influenza vaccine can purchase the vaccine from any Council community immunisation clinic for $19.90.

The 2019 vaccine immunises against four strains of influenza:

  • A (H1N1): an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09 like virus
  • A (H3N2): an A/Switzerland 8060/2017 (H3N2) like virus
  • B: a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus
  • B: a B/Colorado/06/2017 like virus (not included in the TIVs)

If unsure whether you are considered medically at risk, email Council.

Measles, Mumps and Rubella

Measles is a highly infectious illness. It can cause serious complications such as pneumonia (lung infection) and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Measles is spread from an infectious person during coughing or sneezing.

Mumps is an infection of the salivary glands caused by the mumps virus. It can cause swelling of the salivary glands or occasionally more serious complications including inflammation of the brain or spinal cord, hearing loss or sterility. Mumps is spread through either saliva or droplets from the sneeze or cough of an infected person.

For most people, rubella is a mild illness, however, rubella can cause serious birth defects if infection occurs during pregnancy. Rubella is highly contagious. It is spread by droplets from coughing or sneezing, or by direct contact with the infectious person.

Side effects following immunisation are generally mild. They include:

  • fever, lasting two or three days
  • rash (not infectious)
  • tiredness
  • swelling of the salivary glands.

These side effects are seen seven to 10 days after infection.

The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is given to:

  • children in two doses at 12 months and 18 months old
  • children at four years who have not received a second dose of MMR
  • adults born during or since 1966 who have not received two doses of a measles containing vaccine.

Meningococcal disease

Meningococcal disease is bacteria in the throat or nose and is spread by coughing and sneezing. There are 13 known strains of meningococcal disease. The most common in Australia is type B and type C.

Types of meningococcal vaccinations available in Australia include:

  • meningococcal C vaccine administered to all children at 12 months of age
  • meningococcal B vaccine. This needs to be purchased through a GP. It is available for children from six weeks of age
  • a vaccine that protects against meningococcal A, C, W and Y. Council will also be providing a free meningococcal ACWY vaccination to all Year 10 students through the School Immunisation Program and is also offering the free vaccine for young people aged 15 to 19 years of age through our community clinics. Anyone outside this age range can purchase this through a GP.

Side effects include:

  • redness and swelling at injection site
  • fever
  • irritability
  • decreased appetite
  • headaches.

Pneumococcal disease

Pneumococcal disease is caused by bacteria carried in the throat and nose and is spread by coughing or sneezing. It can cause pneumonia and middle ear infection. 

The pneumococcal vaccine is funded for the following groups:

  • Prevenar 13 administered at two, four and six months of age
  • an additional dose of Prevenar 13 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, administered at 18 months
  • Pneumovax 23 administered to medically at risk children at four years of age
  • Pneumovax 23 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and older
  • Pneumovax 23 for adults aged 65 years and older.

Side effects include:

  • pain and swelling at injection site
  • fever
  • irritability
  • drowsiness
  • decreased appetite.


Polio is a gastrointestinal virus that affects the central nervous system. Since 1978, poliomyelitis or polio has been eradicated in Australia. However, children must be vaccinated against polio as there's a risk of importation. 

The polio vaccine is free and requires three doses at two, four and six months with a booster at four years. Side effects include:

  • pain at injection site
  • redness or a hard lump at the injection site
  • fever
  • decreased appetite.


Rotavirus causes severe diarrhoea, dehydration and stomach pain in babies and children. It is contagious and infection is usually spread through the faecal–oral route.

The vaccination is given in a two-dose course. The first vaccine is administered between six to 14 weeks and the second and final vaccine is administered between 10 to 24 weeks of age.

Side effects include:

  • diarrhoea
  • vomiting.


Shingles is caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus in people who have previously had chickenpox. Shingles usually causes a rash, and can also cause headaches, itching and pain. Shingles is most common in people over 50.

Zostavax (shingles vaccine) is a free vaccine that has been added to the National Immunisation Program. Zostavax is available from 1 November 2016 to people aged 70 years (a free single catch-up dose is available for adults aged 71-79 years until 31 October 2021).

Zostavax is available through Council's community immunisation clinics.

Last updated:10 July 2019