Overhaul for pneumococcal vaccine program

2 minute read

Older Australians without risk conditions for pneumococcal disease should receive a single subsidised dose of Prevenar 13 from 70 years, instead of 65 years, replacing Pneumovax 23

From July 1, Prevenar 13 will replace Pneumovax 23 as the first subsidised vaccination against pneumococcal disease for all Australians- young and old.

The changes to the National Immunisation Program (NIP), coming into effect on July 1, will replace the current schedule where only children 12 months and younger, and Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander peoples eligible to receive Prevenar 13 for free.

Under the changes, all healthy older Australians will be eligible to receive a single subsidised dose of Prevenar 13 from 70 years of age, instead of 65, replacing Pneumovax 23.

The Department of Health said the vaccination age had increased in response to evidence that pneumococcal disease is much more common in people over 70 years of age, than in people aged 65–69 years.

“Vaccination from 70 years of age will provide better protection as people move into older age groups with increasing pneumococcal disease risk,” a spokesperson from the Department of Health said.

Patients who had already been vaccinated with Pneumovax 23 under the previous schedule will still be eligible for a subsidised Prevenar 13 vaccine, which can be administered 12 months after a dose of Pneumovax 23.

The other major change to the NIP is the recommendation that all children with conditions that put them at risk of pneumococcal disease should be vaccinated with Pneumovax 23.

In general, this would be administered at four years of age, with a second dose given five years later, but this can vary depending on the age at which their chronic condition is diagnosed.

Other changes to pneumococcal vaccination schedule include:

  • Children diagnosed with risk conditions for pneumococcal disease under 12 months of age, who have already received four doses of Prevenar 13 according to the existing recommendations, do not require an additional Prevenar 13 dose.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who reside in the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia who are already recommended to receive an extra dose of Prevenar 13, should also receive two doses of Pneumovax 23.
  • All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged from 50 years of age are recommended to receive Prevenar 13, and two doses of Pneumovax 23.

In other developments, Pneumovax 23 remains listed on the TGA’s medicine shortages list with the vaccine’s Australian sponsor advising the Department of Health that stock is expected to return by June 29.

For more information on the updates to the NIP, visit https://bit.ly/3dWVMnz

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