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Getting vaccinated

Information about getting vaccinated including how to prepare and what to expect.

What you need to know about getting vaccinated

  • You will need two separate doses (injections) of the vaccine to complete the course of vaccination. 
  • The two doses need to be given a number of weeks apart – for Pfizer vaccine you need to wait at least 21 days between doses and for the AstraZeneca vaccine it is recommended that you wait between four and twelve weeks between doses.
  • Two doses are required to give you the best protection against COVID-19
  • The vaccine is free for all Australian citizens, permanent residents, and temporary visa holders.
  • You can choose if you want to get a COVID-19 vaccine – it is voluntary. The more people who receive the vaccine will mean the more protected our community is.
  • The best person to talk to if you have concerns about your health and getting the COVID-19 vaccine is your doctor/general practitioner (GP).

Why you should get vaccinated

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine: 

  • reduces your risk of getting sick with COVID-19
  • protects you against becoming very sick if you do get COVID-19
  • helps to protect your friends, family and community.

If most people are vaccinated, the virus can’t spread as easily. This also protects people who can’t get vaccinated.

Before you get vaccinated

There are steps you can take now to stay safe and get ready for your COVID-19 vaccine.

Protect yourself and your family against COVID-19 

The mass rollout of Australia’s vaccine program is one of the largest health programs ever managed in Australia and it will take time to distribute and vaccinate enough people to achieve high levels of protection in the community. Whether you are in a priority group or not, you will need to keep being COVIDSafe, to keep yourself and your friends, family and loved ones safe. 

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often. Use hand sanitiser when you can’t wash your hands. 
  • Keep 1.5 metres distance from other people. 
  • Wear a face mask when required to do so 
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow. 
  • Follow current public health restrictions. 

If you are unwell you should get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible and stay home until you receive a negative result. 

Make sure your Medicare details are up to date

You should make you should make sure your Medicare details are up to date before you receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The Australian Government has announced that COVID-19 vaccines will be free for all Australian citizens, permanent residents, and temporary visa holders. 

Visit the Australian Government Department of Health website to find out how to update your Medicare details.

Check your eligibility to receive a COVID-19 vaccine

The Australian Government is responsible for the rollout and phasing of the COVID-19 vaccine.

You can use the Australian Government’s COVID-19 vaccine eligibility checker to find out when you can get vaccinated. Vaccinations will take place in phases. 

Priority groups in phase 1a are currently receiving COVID-19 vaccines, which includes quarantine, border and frontline health care workers, and aged care and disability care residents and staff. 

People to be vaccinated in phase 1a will receive an invitation to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment or will otherwise be informed of their opportunity to be vaccinated through their employer or residential care.

Speak to your doctor if you have any concerns about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine

The best person to talk to if you have concerns about your health and getting the COVID-19 vaccine is your doctor/general practitioner (GP).   

If you have previously had an allergic reaction to a vaccine it is important that you speak to your doctor before receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine

The flu vaccine should not be administered at the same time as giving a COVID-19 vaccine.  It is recommended that you wait at least 14 days after you receive the COVID-19 vaccine to get the flu vaccine. The same applies if you have flu vaccine first, you should wait at least 14 days before being vaccinated against COVID-19.   

For more information visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Your first appointment

The Australian Government has provided the following information to help people who are currently eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine prepare for their first appointment.

After your first appointment

The two vaccines that have been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration require two doses.

After you receive the vaccine you may experience minor expected side effects. After your first appointment, you will be asked to wait at the vaccination hub for at least 15 minutes to make sure you feel okay. 

At your first appointment you will get the first dose of the vaccine. After your first appointment you will be able to book for your second dose. After each appointment it’s important to continue to practice COVIDSafe behaviours. 

For more information about what happens after your first appointment visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

About the COVID-19 vaccines

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is responsible for ensuring vaccines are safe, high quality and effective.   

You can read more about how the TGA approves vaccines for use in Australia by visiting the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Vaccine side effects

Like many other vaccinations, COVID-19 vaccines can have side effects. These symptoms are generally mild and on average resolve within a day or two. If you have any concerns about the vaccine, ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Common reactions to vaccination include:  

  • pain where you had the injection  
  • muscle aches  
  • headache  
  • fatigue  
  • fever. 

After your first appointment, you will be asked to wait at the vaccination hub for at least 15 minutes to make sure you feel okay.  

Side effects are mild for most people and are sign your immune system is responding to the vaccine.  You can check your side effects using the Australia Government Department of Health Side Effect Tracker.

Serious side effects like allergic reactions or anaphylaxis are extremely rare. If this occurs, vaccination providers have medicines available to effectively and immediately treat the reaction.   

If you have previously had an allergic reaction to a vaccine it is important that you speak to your doctor before receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.   

Find out more about how vaccines work with your immune system to protect you by visiting the Better Health Channel.

Vaccine safety is continuously monitored

The TGA will continuously monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines as they are rolled out in Australia and internationally.     

Healthcare professionals contribute to ongoing monitoring by informing the TGA of any side effects, even if they are very minor.  

This means the TGA can oversee the safety of a vaccine across the country and, in the unlikely event that there is a safety risk, inform healthcare providers, the community and the government as soon as possible.  

More information about the safety of the vaccine can be found at the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Reviewed 02 March 2021

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