Immunisation helps prevent infectious diseases. Find out what immunisations you need to protect yourself.
It’s important to check you are up to date with your immunisations, especially if you’re leaving home for the first time, thinking of starting a family, beginning a career or travelling overseas. See the New Zealand Immunisation Schedule for a list of free immunisations and the ages at which they’re recommended.
Diseases like measles and tetanus can make adults seriously ill. Over 400,000 New Zealanders, mostly between the ages of 10 and 29, are at risk of catching measles in an outbreak. You need two doses of measles vaccine to be best protected.
Catching rubella when you’re pregnant can cause miscarriage or serious birth defects.
Most people will be exposed to human papillomavirus (HPV) as older teenagers or young adults. Persistent HPV infection can lead to cervical and other HPV-related cancers. HPV also causes most genital warts.
Catching up on your immunisations is easy, and often free from your general practice. Talk to your practice nurse or doctor to find out if you’re eligible.
Frequently asked questions
How do I find out what immunisations I need?
To find out what immunisations you've had already, check your Well Child/Tamariki Ora Health Book (“Plunket Book”). Your general practice will also have records of immunisations you have received at that practice, and any records that have been transferred from previous practices.
People born from 2005 onwards have their immunisations recorded on the National Immunisation Register (NIR). People born before 2005 may have some immunisations given since 2005 (for example, immunisations given at school) recorded on the NIR.
Your practice nurse or doctor will be able to tell you what immunisations you need.
Which catch up immunisations are free?
If you're aged 17 or under, immunisations to protect against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis), hepatitis B, polio, measles, mumps and rubella are free. HPV immunisation is also free for girls and young women who start the course of three vaccines before their 20th birthday. Three doses costs around $500 for those who are not eligible for the funded vaccine.
If you're aged 18 or over, you can still get free immunisation against measles, mumps and rubella. The vaccine is free for everyone born from 1 January 1969 onwards who hasn't already had two recorded doses. If you have never been immunised against tetanus, diphtheria or polio, these vaccines are also free.
Some immunisations on the New Zealand Immunisation Schedule are only given to young babies (rotavirus) or are only universally funded for children under 5 years of age (haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), pneumococcal disease). Older children and adults at particular risk of disease may be eligible for funded Hib or pneumococcal vaccine.
I think I had at least one MMR shot but I’m not sure. What should I do?
If you're not sure, it's safer to get the MMR vaccine again to protect yourself against measles, mumps and rubella. You’ll need two doses in total, at least a month apart. There's no additional risk of having a third dose if you’re not sure whether you’ve already had two doses.
Is it worth getting immunised against HPV if I’m already sexually active?
If you're already having sex, you should still consider having the HPV immunisation. It can protect you against any of the four HPV types you may not have already been exposed to. Condoms may not stop the risk of HPV infection because the virus can be contracted through any skin-to-skin contact.
The HPV immunisation will not protect you from other sexually transmitted infections or prevent pregnancy. Using condoms helps prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections. Women who have had the HPV immunisation still need to have regular cervical smears.
What extra protection is available?
There are extra immunisations that aren’t usually free but are worth considering to make sure you’re protected. Some of these are free for those at higher risk of disease. Talk to your doctor about whether protection from these diseases is a good idea for you: