Immunisation is one of the best ways you can protect yourself and others from infectious diseases in our community.
In partnership with select GP clinics and a mobile immunisation and mobile outreach service run by St Vincent's Health and The Salvation Army, the Department of Health and Human Services has launched an immunisation campaign to encourage people who use drugs and people who are experiencing homelessness to take up the offer of a free hepatitis A immunisation.
Free influenza (flu) and hepatitis B vaccines are also available for eligible people in these groups.
You must live in Victoria to be eligible for these free vaccines.
Things you should know about hepatitis A, B and C
- There is an outbreak of hepatitis A in Victoria. Since 2017, there has been an increase in the number of confirmed cases of hepatitis A in Victoria. In the last 12 months, a spike of confirmed cases has been seen in people who use drugs and people experiencing homelessness.
- All people who have used drugs within the past 12 months and people who are experiencing homelessness can get the hep A vaccine for free, so get it today to protect yourself and help stop the spread of disease.
- You can get hepatitis A from tiny amounts of faeces (poo), so wash your hands in warm soapy water before handling food and after going to the toilet.
- If you use drugs, wash your hands before and after immediately after injecting, and swab the injection site with an alcohol swab. Do not share or re-use needles, spoons, swabs, water or any other injecting equipment.
- While you are taking care of yourself with a hepatitis A immunisation shot, ask about getting a free hepatitis B shot as well.
- In Victoria, the hep B immunisation is free for all people who inject drugs and other groups at risk.
- Hepatitis B can spread through blood contact and unprotected sex.
- Do not share or re-use needles, tourniquets, spoons, swabs, water or any other equipment. Label or mark your syringe.
- Some people with hepatitis B don't have any symptoms, so they may not know they have it.
- Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that causes inflammation (swelling and pain) of the liver. This virus is present in the blood of a person living with hepatitis C and can be spread through blood-to-blood contact.
- In Australia, hepatitis C is commonly spread through sharing unsterile needles, syringes and other injecting drug equipment. It is not spread by kissing, hugging or sharing food.
- Hepatitis C can be cured in 12 weeks through a treatment plan involving tablet medication, that has minimal side effects. Current treatment is effective for more than 95 per cent of people.
- Treatment clears the infection, decreases inflammation in the liver and reduces the long-term risk of health problems including chronic liver disease and liver cancer.
- Ask about hepatitis C testing and treatments when you get your hepatitis A shot.
- To reduce the risk of hepatitis C do not share or re-use needles, tourniquets, spoons, swabs, water or any other equipment. Label or mark your syringe.
And, while you're at it, help stop the spread of COVID-19
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) can be spread from a potentially contaminated surface to your face or mouth by touching.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Ensure a distance of at least 1.5 metres is kept between yourself and others.
- Avoid sharing, swapping or re-using needles, spoons, swabs, water or other injecting equipment.
- Dispose of your sharps in a marked disposal container (available from your Needle Syringe Program).
What free vaccines are available?
Hepatitis A vaccination
To stop the spread of hepatitis A, the Department of Health and Human Services has introduced a free hepatitis A vaccination for people who use drugs and people experiencing homelessness. One dose of vaccine will protect most people within two weeks. Two doses (at least six months apart) provide lifelong protection.
These are available from select GP clinics and a mobile immunisation and mobile outreach service run by St Vincent's Health and The Salvation Army that will be visiting drug and alcohol providers and crisis accommodation services.
For further details about where to access the free vaccine call the Hepatitis Infoline - 1800 703 003
Read more about hepatitis A
Hepatitis B vaccination
Immunisation is your best protection against hepatitis B. Hepatitis B (also known as Hep B) is a disease caused by a virus. It causes liver inflammation and can lead to serious illness or death. In Victoria, free hepatitis B vaccine is provided for people who inject drugs and other groups at risk.
Influenza (flu) Vaccination
The flu is a highly contagious infection caused by a virus. It can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications, including pneumonia. The flu is spread by contact with fluids from coughs and sneezes.
Immunisation against the flu is recommended every year for all people.
Flu vaccine is funded under the National Immunisation Program for the following groups: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged from six months and over; adults aged 65 years and over; persons aged six months and over who have certain medical conditions which increase the risk of influenza disease complications; for example, severe asthma, lung or heart disease, low immunity or diabetes and pregnant women (during any stage of pregnancy).
Read more about influenza.
Where can I get my free vaccine?
Aboriginal community controlled health organisations:
Victorian Aboriginal Health Service - Fitzroy
Victorian Aboriginal Health Service - Epping
Bunnerong Health Service (DDACL)
Aboriginal community primary health service
First Peoples Health and Wellbeing
Aboriginal community primary health service
- 7A Station Street, Frankston
- 317-319 High Street, Thomastown - (03) 9070 8181
Central Gippsland Aboriginal Health Services
- 15-17 Collins Street, Morwell
Other health organisations and services:
Hepatitis, AOD and STI health service
Young People’s Health Service
Sacred Heart Mission - Central
GP clinic and Drop in Centre
Star Health – South Melbourne
Star Health – St Kilda
Star Health – Prahran
Banyule Community Health
Prahran Market Clinic
Cohealth - Kensington
Cohealth - Laverton
Cohealth - Footscray
Cohealth - Health Works
Cohealth - Fitzroy
Access Health & Community – Richmond
Access Health & Community - Hawthorne
Wyndham Health Care
St Kilda Road Clinic
North Richmond Community Health
Monash Health Drug & Alcohol Service
Peninsula Health SHARPS (Southern Hepatitis/HIV/AIDS Referral & Prevention Service)
Western Health Drug Health Services
Gippsland Lakes Complete Health
18-26 Jemmeson Street, Lakes Entrance - (03) 5155 8300
Echuca Primary Care Clinic
Gisborne Medical Centre
Monash Health Community Dandenong
Each – Ringwood East
Headspace Narre Warren
Bendigo Primary Care Centre
Ask at these service providers about when the mobile outreach immunisation service will be visiting:
Salvation Army - Project 614
Salvation Army - Flagstaff
St Kilda Uniting Church - 101 Engagement Hub
St Mary’s House of Welcome
St Kilda Crisis Contact Centre
The following vaccination fact sheets are available on the health.vic.gov.au website: