This study was undertaken to assess the uptake of influenza and pneumococcal vaccination based on provider records of the hospitalised elderly, a group at high risk of influenza and pneumococcal disease. The study used a random sample of 3,204 admissions at two Victorian teaching hospitals for patients, aged 65 years or more who were discharged between 1 April 2000 and 31 March 2002. Information on whether the patient had received an influenza vaccination within the year prior to admission or pneumococcal vaccination within the previous five years was ascertained from the patient's nominated medical practitioner/vaccine provider. Vaccination records were obtained from providers for 82 per cent (2,804/2,934) of eligible subjects. Influenza vaccine coverage was 70.9 per cent (95% CI 68.9-72.9), pneumococcal coverage was 52.6 per cent (95% CI 50.4-54.8) and 46.6 per cent (95% CI 44.4-48.8) had received both vaccines. Coverage for each vaccine increased seven per cent over the two study years. For pneumococcal vaccination, there was a marked increase in 1998 coinciding with the introduction of Victoria's publicly funded program. Influenza and pneumococcal vaccine coverage in eligible hospitalised adults was similar to, but did not exceed, estimates in the general elderly population. Pneumococcal vaccination coverage reflected the availability of vaccine through Victoria's publicly funded program. A nationally funded pneumococcal vaccination program for the elderly, as announced recently, should improve coverage. However, these data highlight the need for greater awareness of pneumococcal vaccine among practitioners and for systematic recording of vaccination status, as many of these subjects will soon become eligible for revaccination.