We are getting lots of questions and comments from the community so we have started this page to help by answering your questions.
Who is eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations right now?
Everyone 18 years and over can now book an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine. Booster (or vaccine number 3) can be given 3 months AFTER the second vaccine. You can book online here and make sure you complete this form prior to coming in for your vaccination. You do not need a doctor’s referral.
Why should we get vaccinated for COVID-19?
Protect yourself and the community
Vaccination is the most effective way to protect against infectious diseases. Vaccines strengthen your immune system by training it to recognise and fight against specific viruses. When you get vaccinated, you are protecting yourself and helping to protect the whole community.
Help reduce COVID-19 in the community
COVID-19 can spread quickly and widely. It has resulted in the deaths of over 5 million people worldwide and over 3,000 deaths in Australia. When enough people in the community are vaccinated, it slows down the spread of disease.
Vaccination rates in Australia
Australian families demonstrate that we are a vaccination nation. Childhood immunisation rates reached record levels of 95.09 per cent for all 5-year-old children at December 2020. Reaching our vaccination target of 95 per cent supports herd immunity to slow down the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases. For other vaccines, when lots of people in the community are protected by immunisation, we rarely see the deadly diseases they prevent. This includes diseases such as diphtheria, measles and meningococcal disease. It is not yet known if we can eradicate COVID-19. The first step is to reduce the harm it causes and its spread in the community. High immunisation rates also protect vulnerable people in our community who cannot be vaccinated, such as very young children or people who are too sick.
Reduce the health, social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic
Higher vaccination rates make outbreaks much less likely. It also reduces the need for preventive measures, such as border closures and travel restrictions. This will reduce the health, social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will help save lives and livelihoods.
What if I have a reaction to the vaccine?
You may experience minor side effects following vaccination. Most side effects last no more than a couple of days and you will recover without any problems.
Common reactions to vaccination include:
Some people will experience more significant flu-like symptoms from the vaccine compared to other common vaccinations, and may need time away from normal activities. For the Pfizer (COMIRNATY) vaccine, these symptoms are more common after the second dose. For the AstraZeneca vaccine, these symptoms are more common after the first dose.
Serious reactions such as allergic reactions are extremely rare. They usually occur within 15 minutes of receiving a vaccine. After you receive your vaccine, you should wait this amount of time before you leave to ensure your safety in case a reaction occurs.
Use the COVID-19 vaccine side effects symptom checker if you have concerns about any symptoms after your vaccine. The checker is also available through the National Coronavirus Helpline, 1800 020 080, 24 hours a day.
The COVID-19 vaccine side effects symptom checker is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a medical professional for serious symptoms or emergencies. For specific advice about side effects from different doses of vaccines, ask your doctor or health care professional.
See your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible or go directly to a hospital if you:
The various vaccine have been developed too quickly – How can we be sure it is safe?
• The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has approved this vaccine after an in-depth and independent full assessment was undertaken (NCIRS, 2020; TGA, 2020; Healthdirect, 2020). The Therapeutic Goods Administration is the health regulatory agency of the Australian Government. As part of the Department of Health, the TGA regulates the quality, supply and advertising of medicines, pathology devices, medical devices, blood products and most other therapeutics
• An unprecedented amount of resources and number of international researchers have been working towards the same clinical goal and have achieved this due to the devastating impact COVID-19 has had (NCIRS, 2020; Healthdirect, 2020).
• The same number of trials and tests has been undertaken with COVID-19 vaccines as expected with any other new medicines. The vast number of trial participants in target groups has allowed this to happen more quickly than usual (NCIRS, 2020).
• Pharmaceutical companies invested in manufacturing early on, so there was no delay between completion of trials and safety testing and the roll-out (NCIRS, 2020).
• Technology has evolved to be able to manufacture vaccines faster including sequencing the genetic code of the virus (Healthdirect 2020; NCIRS, 2020; Lewandowsky, et. al., 2021)
Can you get COVID-19 from the different vaccines and can the vaccines change your genetic code?
• No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines contains live viruses. Therefore, the virus is unable to replicate and grow to cause an infection (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2021).
• The mRNA genetic material in the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is cleared and the mRNA does not enter the human cell nucleus which is where our DNA is located and cannot alter your DNA or genetic make-up (CDC, 2021).
• Receiving a vaccine will not result in a positive COVID-19 swab test. However, it is possible for a person to catch COVID-19 just before or after a vaccination and therefore return a positive test due to an active infection acquired before the vaccine was effective (CDC, 2021).
Now that I have received the vaccine, do I still need to follow physical distancing and wear a mask when recommended?
• Yes, all COVID-19 safe preventative measures such as wearing masks, physical distancing and frequent hand washing should still be followed after receiving the vaccine (NCIRS, 2020). This is because the vaccine program will take a while to be rolled out and for the effect to be seen. If the vaccine program is effective and a large proportion of people are immunised then restrictions may be able to ease if herd immunity develops (NCIRS, 2020).
LINKS TO COMMON QUESTIONS
Who can get vaccinated for COVID-19?
Why should I get vaccinated for COVID-19?
What should I do before I get vaccinated for COVID-19?
What happens after I am vaccinated for COVID-19?