There are a number of neurological conditions that are associated with an increased risk of vaccine preventable diseases. These include:

  1. Epilepsy and seizure disorders
  2. Developmental delay and intellectual disability
  3. Cerebral palsy
  4. Neuromuscular disorders
  5. Hydrocephalus and children with ventricular-peritoneal shunts

Children with any of these underlying conditions should have routine vaccinations according to the Australian National Immunisation Program Schedule.

In children where epilepsy is unstable, or there is a progressive neurological disorder of unclear aetiology, specialist consultation is recommended to advise on the appropriate vaccination course. In Victoria, referrals for this service should be made to SAEFVIC.

Influenza vaccination

All children with neurologic and neurodevelopmental conditions are at high risk of severe and complicated influenza infection.

This includes disorders that do not have an obvious compromise in respiratory function such as intellectual disability and epilepsy. Influenza infection can also markedly increase seizures in children with epilepsy.

These children should all be offered annual influenza vaccination from 6 months of age. Two doses are required in the first year the vaccine is received if less than 9 years of age [see Resources].

Pneumococcal vaccination

Children with CSF leaks and intracranial shunts are at higher risk of invasive pneumococcal disease. This includes brain inflammation (meningitis) and blood infection (bacteraemia). These children should be offered additional vaccines, including an extra pneumococcal conjugate vaccine to optimise protection.  See the Pneumococcal chapter in the Australian Immunisation Handbook for the latest recommendations [see Resources]

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination

Transmission of the HPV virus is primarily through sexual intercourse and can also occur via non- penetrative sexual contact.

There is some evidence for potential virus transmission via viral particles on hands.

HPV infection is associated with the potential development of serious disease such as cervical and anogenital cancers. The infection is also the primary cause of anogenital warts.

As transmission can be varied, children with neurodevelopmental conditions should be offered HPV vaccination as per the routine secondary school program.


Author: Teresa Lazzaro (Paediatrician, Immunisation Service, Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne)

Date: September 2018

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre (MVEC) staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family’s personal health. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult a healthcare professional.