Adult vaccinations

It’s recommended that adults keep up to date with flu, COVID-19, whooping cough, tetanus, and meningococcal vaccinations. All adults should check they’re fully protected against measles. Shingles immunisation is free for 12 months after your 65th birthday.

Annual flu vaccination

All adults are recommended to get a flu vaccine at the start of winter each year.

In 2023 it’s free for:

  • children aged 6 months to 12 years old
  • people aged 65 and over
  • Māori and Pacific people over 55
  • pregnant people
  • people with underlying health conditions including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and serious asthma
  • people with significant mental illness such as schizophrenia or those currently accessing mental health services.

Flu vaccines can be booked online through Book My Vaccine.

Book a flu vaccine

About the flu vaccine

Who can get a free vaccine?

The flu vaccine is free if you're pregnant.

People who are over the age of 65.

Māori or Pasifika people over the age of 55 or people with long-term conditions.

[NOT INCLUDED IN VIDEO] In 2023, the flu vaccine is also free for all children aged 6 months to 12 years old.

If you've previously had a free flu vaccine you're probably still going to be eligible for one.

If you haven't had one before, but you have a long-term condition please contact your practice nurse to find out if you're eligible for a free vaccine.

What if I'm not eligible for a free vaccine?

You're still allowed to get one, there's just a small cost.

I think that it's a way of protecting those people that might become more sick from the flu, so if you work with children, if you work with elderly or you just like to protect those around you or yourself.

Why do we sometimes experience side effects?

There is common side effects that we have when getting the flu vaccine.

When you have a vaccine it stimulates your body to respond to be able to fight off that infection.

So actually you get the same symptoms you would get if you were getting sick, but actually not getting sick it's your immune system being primed.

You might get a fever, you might get headache, you might get an achy body. That is actually a normal immune response, that is your body telling you there's something wrong, I need to fight it off and we expect it but it's nothing like getting the real disease.

Does the flu vaccine have a proven record?

The flu vaccine is not new.

The way it's made, we have lots of data and information, we've been giving the flu vaccine for decades and we can give it from as young as 6 months old all the way up to over 100.

Can I still catch the flu if I've had the vaccine?

So every year there are a number of flu viruses in the community and so the flu vaccine only covers those that were either very common or severe from the previous year and so every year there will be other viruses that aren't in the flu vaccine that people can still catch and become unwell with and so it's a prediction game.

So sometimes there will be a strain that is new that isn't covered by the flu vaccine.

Can I have the flu vaccine at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine?

So yes, you can actually have your COVID-19 vaccine plus the flu vaccine at the same time.

Actually, you can if you haven't had some of your childhood immunisations, such as the measles you can also have that at the same time as having your COVID-19 vaccine.

So I’d strongly recommend if you haven't already had all your COVID-19 vaccines or your booster to please have this at the same time as getting your flu vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccination

All COVID-19 vaccinations are free in New Zealand – even for visitors.

Check the COVID-19 vaccine page to find out if you’re eligible for a booster dose.

To find out when your last COVID-19 vaccine was, login to My Health Record.

About COVID-19 vaccines

Book a COVID-19 vaccine

Tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough vaccination (Boostrix)

As an adult, you can get a free Boostrix vaccine:

  • from when you turn 45 years old (if you have not had 4 previous doses of a tetanus vaccine)
  • from when you turn 65 years old (if it has been more than 10 years since previous dose of Td or Tdap)
  • from 13 weeks of every pregnancy (recommended from 16 weeks)
  • if you get a dirty cut.

Certain people are recommended to have a Boostrix vaccine at least every 10 years – but there may be a cost. This is to boost protection against whooping cough.

This includes people who:

  • work with young children and vulnerable people
  • live with a newborn baby
  • are at higher risk of severe illness from whooping cough (for example those with chronic respiratory disease).

About the Boostrix vaccine

Pharmacies that offer Boostrix vaccination – Healthpoint

Shingles vaccination

The shingles vaccine is recommended for anyone aged 50 and over. It’s free for the 12 months after your 65th birthday.

If you’re not 65 years old, you will need to pay. The price will vary depending on the provider, but you can expect it to cost between $600 to $800 for both doses.

More about the shingles vaccine

Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine

Everyone should check whether they’ve had 2 doses of the MMR vaccine to ensure they’re protected against measles.

Many adults born between 1989 and 2004 in New Zealand were not vaccinated against measles – or may only have had 1 dose.

To check whether you have been vaccinated, contact your doctor, nurse, or healthcare provider.

Aotearoa is at very high risk of a measles outbreak. It’s not too late to get protected.

For adults over 18 years old, MMR vaccination is free if you’re a New Zealand resident, or eligible for free healthcare.

If you know that you’ve had 2 measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations, you do not need additional vaccines as an adult – you are fully protected.

Find out if you need a measles vaccine

About measles and the vaccine

We know that measles is actually really really contagious.

If one person is infected, you can actually spread it to around 15 to 18 people and it's not a nice disease to have it can make you feel really sick and awful.

Quite often people can end up in hospital because they're so sick and unwell from the infection.

There is no real good treatment to be honest, so the best thing that you

can do is actually get vaccinated so you get your body ready to fight off the infection.

If you're all protected, so if I'm vaccinated, every one of my family is vaccinated and someone comes to the house and they've got measles or mumps they actually don't pass it on to us, because the vaccine has actually helped protect us from actually getting the measles, or if we do get it we fight off so well that we don't spread it around we don't give it to other people.

How does the measles vaccine work? What are the side effects?

The vaccine which protects us against measles comes in a combination it's called the MMR.  

So measles, mumps, rubella so you actually get protected against 3 different diseases at the same time, which is great news.

MMR vaccine is supposed to stimulate your body to be able to fight off infection if it sees the disease in real-time and so that potentially means that you can have some of those side effects that occur when you are vaccinated.

Getting a temperature that you may actually get a rash afterwards for the vaccine that's actually quite common.

Some people might find their glands actually go up after having the vaccine and some people they can have a little bit of an achy body.

For some people the symptoms may occur in the first few hours, for others it can occur up to a week or two weeks later, but actually they stay well with it, so despite having some mild side effects they actually stay very well.

What should I do if I'm not sure if I have had a measles vaccine?

So if you're not sure if you're vaccinated or not then just talk to your GP or GP nurse, they'll be able to look it up on their system.

Sometimes you may have had your childhood imms book. We can have a look through there and see if you've had the full vaccinations because you only need 2 doses to be fully vaccinated.

But even if we're not sure, if we can't find the records or we think you might be partially vaccinated. It actually does you no harm to have an extra vaccination.

 

Meningococcal vaccines

As an adult, you may be able to get free MenB and MenACWY vaccines if you’re:

  • 25 or under, and living in a boarding school, hostel, halls of residence, military barracks, or prisons
  • at higher risk of some diseases due to certain medical conditions (such as a weakened immune system).

Healthy people under 25 years old in close-living conditions (like uni halls) are at higher risk of meningococcal disease – which can be rapidly life-threatening.

If you have previously had meningococcal vaccinations, get immunised again if your last meningococcal vaccinations were more than 5 years ago. You need both MenACWY and MenB vaccinations for best protection.

If you are not eligible for free vaccination, talk to your doctor, nurse, or healthcare provider about whether extra protection is a good idea and how much it would cost.

More about meningococcal vaccines

HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine

If you were not immunised against HPV as a child, you can get free vaccination until you turn 27 years old.

You will need 3 doses, given over 6 months.

If you’ve been vaccinated against HPV you do not need any additional doses when you’re an adult.

You can pay for the HPV vaccine until you turn 45 years old. For people aged 28 to 45 it can cost approximately $240 per dose — you need 3 doses.

More about the HPV vaccine

Extra vaccines for adults

Additional free vaccines are available for adults who are at higher risk of some diseases due to specific living situations, or certain medical conditions (such as a weakened immune system).

Ask your doctor, nurse, or healthcare provider what extra free immunisations you may need. Extra vaccines include:


If you’ve recently moved to New Zealand from overseas

If you have recently moved to New Zealand from overseas you should check with a doctor whether you have had the vaccinations recommended in New Zealand. The vaccinations you need might be different to the country you were living before. 

If you are eligible for free healthcare in New Zealand, many vaccines will be free. 

To enrol you’ll need to call your local a doctor or heathcare provider and ask if they’re enrolling new patients. 

Find a doctor in your area – Healthpoint

It’s helpful to provide your doctor with records of any past immunisations. You can ask your previous overseas doctor or healthcare provider for these.

Your vaccinator will use these records to work out what vaccines are needed and will plan an appropriate schedule.

If you’re unable to access your vaccination history, let your vaccinator know, and they will discuss an appropriate catch-up plan.


If you’re travelling overseas

If you’re travelling overseas, you should check you’re up to date with routine vaccinations – in particular measles, hepatitis B, and tetanus.

Depending on where you are travelling to, you may also need to be immunised against other diseases such as yellow fever, rabies, cholera, hep A and typhoid.

Before travelling, check with your doctor, nurse, or healthcare provider to see if extra vaccinations are needed for the areas you’re travelling to. There will be a cost for these. You can also check the following websites:

Page last updated: 28 Feb 2024