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About COVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines, getting vaccinated, side effects and your support options.

COVID-19 vaccines are available free to everyone aged 5 years and over in Australia.

The type of vaccine you can have might depend on your age and, in some cases, whether you have certain medical conditions. Visit Get vaccinated for more information.

    • There are three main classes of COVID-19 vaccines: messenger RNA (mRNA), protein-based and viral vector. All three either deliver or cause our bodies to make harmless proteins like the ones found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus and starts to build an immune response against the virus.
    • There are three approved COVID-19 vaccines available in Australia: PfizerExternal Link (mRNA), ModernaExternal Link (mRNA), and NovavaxExternal Link (protein-based).
    • After you are vaccinated, your immune system recognises and attacks the virus when you are exposed to it
    • None of the vaccines contain the live virus and cannot give you COVID-19
    • Most people need three doses to maintain immunity from the virus that causes COVID-19. Some people may need four doses.
    • It takes up to 14 days after a dose to be protected against COVID-19
    • Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax vaccines do not contain any milk, egg, latex, pork, or pork products such as gelatine.
  • There are 3 COVID-19 vaccines available and approved for use in Australia:

    As of 17 January 2022, the following vaccines that people may have received overseas are recognised in AustraliaExternal Link :

    • Coronavac (Sinovac)
    • Covishield (AstraZeneca - Serum Institute of India)
    • BBIBP-CorV for people under 60 years of age on arrival in Australia (Sinopharm China)
    • Covaxin (Bharat Biotech)
    • Sputnik V (Gamaleya Research Institute)
    • COVID-19 vaccine Janssen (Janssen)
    • Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca)External Link

    Bivalent vaccines are preferred for booster doses. For more information on how vaccines work, ingredients used, risks, side effects, and vaccine safety, visit the Australian Government Department of HealthExternal Link .

  • Before COVID-19 vaccines are approved for use in Australia, they must pass strict safety standards set by Australia's independent medicines regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration.External Link

    The COVID-19 vaccines being used in Australia have been used by millions of people around the world.

    All 4 vaccines available in Australia are safe and effective at preventing serious illness from COVID-19, including new variants of COVID-19.

    The TGA also continuously monitors vaccine safety and side effects.External Link

    COVID-19 vaccines are free, safe and voluntary. Choosing to get vaccinated helps protect ourselves, our families and our community.

  • Common reactions to COVID-19 vaccinations include:

    • pain where you had the injection
    • tiredness
    • muscle aches
    • headache
    • fever and chills
    • joint pain.

    Side effects are normal and a sign that the vaccine is working. These are expected side effects that are generally mild and on average last a day or two. Serious side effects like allergic reactions or anaphylaxis are extremely rare.

    You can also check your side effects using the Australian Government Department of Health Side Effect Checker.External Link

    You can report your symptoms following vaccination to Victoria’s central reporting service for adverse events following immunisation, SAEFVIC.External Link

    Contact your doctor or healthcare provider if you have severe symptoms, symptoms that are not going away after a few days, or are otherwise concerned about side effects.

  • After your Pfizer or Moderna vaccine

    Talk to your doctor immediately if:

    • you have an expected side effect of the vaccine which has not gone away after a few days
    • you feel pain or pressure in your chest
    • it hurts when you breathe
    • you find it hard to take deep breaths
    • you have an irregular heartbeat, skipped beats or 'fluttering' feelings in your chest
    • you faint.

    After your Novavax vaccine

    Talk to your doctor immediately if you experience:

    • tender lymph glands
    • a rash
    • itch at the injection site
    • an increase in your blood pressure for up to three days.

    After your AstraZeneca vaccine

    Talk to your doctor immediately if:

    • you have an expected side effect of the vaccine that has not gone away after a few days
    • you have any of the following symptoms, particularly between 4 and 42 days after vaccination:
      • a headache that keeps coming back. It might:
        • be mild or strong
        • be present beyond 48 hours after vaccination, or come later than 48 hours after vaccination
        • feel worse when you lie down
        • go away for a little while when you take pain relief like paracetamol, but then it comes back.
      • nausea or vomiting
      • blurred vision, difficulty speaking, drowsiness or confusion, or seizures
      • abdominal (belly) pain that won't go away
      • shortness of breath or chest pain
      • lower limb pain, redness or swelling
      • tiny blood spots under the skin away from the area where the injection was received.

    Visit Additional information for specific groups for details on thrombosis thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) and cardiac related symptoms.

  • COVID-19 vaccines still help your body recognise and fight the virus even if it changes into a new variant.

    After two doses, the approved vaccines all reduce the risk of serious illness and hospitalisation from different variants of COVID-19. Over time, the protection provided by the vaccines reduces. Therefore, booster doses are recommended to strengthen your immune system and help maintain a high level of protection against serious illness.

    The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)External Link looks closely at variants and their effect on vaccines as part of their approval and monitoring processes.

    Variants may mean people need additional COVID-19 vaccine doses as we do for tetanus and whooping cough.

  • There have been rare reports of myocarditis or pericarditis in adults and young people aged 12 years and older after they receive a PfizerExternal Link vaccine or a ModernaExternal Link vaccine. This appears to occur more commonly in men under the age of 30 years old, and after the second dose.

    The benefits of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in protecting against COVID-19 greatly outweigh the rare risk of these conditions, and they continue to be recommended for all eligible people.

    Most people with pre-existing cardiac conditions can get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. This includes but isn’t limited to:

    • coronary artery disease
    • myocardial infarction
    • stable heart failure
    • arrhythmias
    • prior history of rheumatic heart disease
    • Kawasaki Disease
    • most congenital heart disease
    • implantable cardiac devices.

    People with a history of any of the following cardiac conditions can receive an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna vaccines) but should consult a cardiologist, immunisation specialist or doctor before vaccination. These include:

    • recent (within the last 6 months) inflammatory cardiac illness (e.g., myocarditis, pericarditis, endocarditis)
    • current acute rheumatic fever
    • people aged 12-29 years old with dilated cardiomyopathy
    • complex or severe congenital heart disease
    • acute decompensated heart failure
    • cardiac transplant recipients.

    People who develop myocarditis or pericarditis after their first dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are advised to defer further doses and discuss this with their doctor.

  • A rare condition known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), which is associated with blood clotting and a low blood platelet count, has been linked to the AstraZenecaExternal Link vaccine in a small number of people.

    The risk of TTS in Australia is about 1 confirmed case of TTS for every 100,000 people given a first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine. There have been no confirmed cases of TTS in Australia after second doses of AstraZeneca, but this has been reported very rarely overseas (less than 1 case for every 500,000 second doses).

    TTS is a serious condition. When diagnosed early there are effective treatments available and many people recover without long term impacts.

    TTS is different to usual blood clots. As a precaution, currently Pfizer vaccine is recommended for people with a history of:

    • heparin induced thrombocytopenia (HIT)
    • central venous sinus thrombosis (CVST)
    • idiopathic splanchnic (mesenteric, portal, splenic) vein thrombosis or
    • antiphospholipid syndrome with thrombosis.

    Pfizer vaccine does not appear to have the same association with TTS.

    Blood clotting has been reported in over 10% of hospitalised COVID-19 patients.

    The risk of getting a blood blot from the AstraZeneca vaccine is much lower than getting COVID-19 itself.

  • If you have concerns about getting a COVID-19 vaccine, you can:

Reviewed 24 March 2023

Coronavirus Victoria

Coronavirus Hotline

Call the Coronavirus Hotline if you have any questions about COVID-19.

The Victorian Coronavirus Hotline diverts to the National Coronavirus Helpline every night between 4pm and 9am.

Please keep Triple Zero (000) for emergencies only.

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