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Potential side effects of COVID-19 vaccination

Information on the potential side effects of COVID-19 vaccination

How to get the vaccine

Vaccination centres are open to people who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccine side effects

Like all vaccinations, COVID-19 vaccines can have side effects. Expected side effects  are generally mild and on average last a day or two.

Expected side effects are a sign that your immune system is responding to the vaccine.  Find out more about how vaccines work with your immune system to protect you by visiting the Better Health Channel.

If you have any concerns about the vaccine, ask your doctor, nurse or immunisation provider.

Common reactions to COVID-19 vaccination include:  

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

For more information about side effects following your COVID-19 vaccine see:

After you receive your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, you will be asked to wait at the vaccination site for at least 15 minutes to make sure you feel okay.  

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

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.   

Where to get advice about side effects

If you are worried about the side effects you are experiencing, you should speak to your doctor or healthcare provider. You can also call Nurse on Call on 1300 60 60 24 (available 24 hours a day).

Check your side effects using the Australian Government Department of Health Side Effect Checker or call the Australian Government Department of Health COVID-19 Hotline on 1800 020 080 (available 24 hours a day).

You can view the latest national COVID-19 vaccine safety data including the percentage of people who have reported side effects by visiting AusVaxSafety

Call 000 if you experience severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, a fast heartbeat or collapsing.

You should seek medical attention after vaccination if:

  • You have an expected side effect of the vaccine which has not gone away after a few days.
  • You have:
    • severe, persistent headaches that are different to your "usual" headaches and do not settle with paracetamol or other painkillers
    • blurred vision
    • weakness of face or limbs
    • confusion or seizure.
  • You are worried about a potential side effect, or have new or unexpected symptoms, particularly in the 4–20 days after vaccination, such as:
    • shortness of breath
    • chest pain
    • persistent abdominal pain
    • leg swelling
    • pin-prick rash or bruising not at the injection site that cannot be explained.

Be sure to tell your doctor that you have recently received the vaccine. For symptoms which are not urgent, you can see your regular healthcare provider (usually your GP).

AstraZeneca and rare blood clotting condition

A very rare and unusual clotting condition has been reported after COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca.

  • A very rare side effect of an unusual condition involving blood clotting and low blood platelet count may occur after of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. This affects approximately 4 to 6 out of a million people after receiving a first dose, but has not yet been reported after the second dose of this vaccine.
  • The blood clots can occur at different parts of the body, including the brain (this is called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis) and the abdomen. The low level of blood platelets can cause bleeding.
  • The symptoms of this condition mostly start between 4 and 20 days after vaccination.
  • People with this condition get very unwell and need to go to hospital. This condition can lead to long-term disability, and even death.

Vaccine safety is continuously monitored

The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) continuously monitors the safety of COVID-19 vaccines as they are rolled out in Australia and internationally. The latest updates from the TGA on COVID-19 vaccines, including safety information, is available at the TGA website.  

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 rollout across the country and, if a safety concern is identified, inform healthcare providers, the community and the Australian Government as soon as possible.  

More information about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines can be found at the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Reviewed 03 May 2021

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