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Answering your COVID-19 vaccine questions

Tuesday, 1 June 2021
Answering your COVID-19 vaccine questions

What is the COVID vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is a medicine designed to help protect our bodies from the COVID-19 virus and stop us from getting severely sick. The vaccines strengthen our immune system by teaching our bodies to recognise and fight off this harmful virus if we come into contact with it.

Vaccination information in other languages:

Information about COVID-19 vaccines has been translated into multiple languages:

How were COVID-19 vaccines developed and approved so quickly?

With the global need and urgency for a COVID-19 vaccine, governments and companies around the world spent more money and resources to develop it quickly.

Throughout this process, all steps for research, testing, safety and monitoring were undertaken, and the highest level of safety and clinical standards were maintained. As a result, the research and science reveal that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective. 

Watch this video to learn more about Australia's vaccine approval process:

Are the vaccines safe?

Yes, the vaccines are safe and effective.

Australia has one of the best approval processes in the world and will not approve any vaccine that is not safe or causes severe negative side effects. In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is a government group that ensures all medicines work well and are safe to use. The TGA approves all vaccines before they can be used.

As such, the COVID-19 vaccines have gone through the same thorough safety testing as all other vaccines available to us in our country.

Who can get vaccinated?

The COVID-19 vaccine is free and voluntary for anyone living in Australia. This includes international students, refugees and asylum seekers, those on temporary visas and people whose visa has been cancelled.

For more information about your eligibility, call the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398 or visit covid-vaccine.healthdirect.gov.au  

Please note:  People under 16 years are not able to get vaccinated at this time (10.8.21) unless they are 12-15 years of age and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people or have an identified underlying medical condition. 

Why should I get vaccinated?

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine will help protect you from getting sick from COVID-19. The vaccines are effective at preventing serious illness. By getting vaccinated, you are also helping protect your family, friends and community.

As more people get vaccinated, the more the community is protected. This also makes it harder for COVID-19 to spread. By limiting the spread of COVID-19, we can reduce the risk that new strains of the virus could emerge.

Vaccination isn't just about protecting ourselves from illness. It's about helping us get back to all the good things, things we once took for granted. Hugging our parents. Seeing live music. Attending weddings.

Watch this video to find out what people are looking forward to about a vaccinated world: 

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccination:

Why should I get vaccinated right now?

As we’ve seen with the recent serious outbreak in Melbourne (July and August 2021), the threat of COVID-19 transmission in our community is still very real.

The COVID-19 vaccines require two shots, with a wait time in between them, for full efficacy. It takes time for your body to build an immune response to the vaccine, so it’s not a good idea to wait for an outbreak to happen before getting vaccinated. 

Which vaccine am I eligible for?

  • If you are above the age of 60, you can get an AstraZeneca jab, either by appointment or walk-in.
  • If you are between the ages of 40 and 59, you are eligible to receive the Pfizer shot at state-run vaccination sites. Make sure you book your appointment in advance. 
  • As of 25 August 2021, every Victorian aged over 16 can receive a vaccination. People aged 16 to 17 can receive Pfizer.
  • From 13 September 2021, children aged 12-15 are eligible to receive Pfizer.
  • Victoria has granted pregnant women past the 24-week gestation period priority access to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
  • Individuals aged 18 to 59 years can receive now receive the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccination.
  • Young people aged 12-15 who are at higher risk of getting very sick if they contract COVID-19 are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, with priority access to Pfizer.
  • All residential aged care workers are eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine, regardless of age.
     

Please note: 
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommends the Pfizer vaccine as the preferred vaccine for people aged 16 to 59 years, but the AstraZeneca vaccine can also be provided to this age group. Use the eligibility checker to see if you're eligible for vaccination.

Why do I need two doses of the vaccine?

You will need two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine because, while one doses will give some protection, it may only last for the short-term. It will take time for your body to build an immune response.

You will have maximum protection against COVID-19 after a second dose, and we will continue to learn how long this protection lasts, over time.

Please note: If you have already received your first shot, you must receive the same vaccine type for your second shot.

How long do I need to wait in between shots?

  • For the Pfizer shot, you need to wait at least 6 weeks between doses.
  • For the AstraZeneca, it’s recommended that you wait 12 weeks between doses.

When can I get vaccinated?

The COVID-19 vaccine is being rolled out in phases, according to risk.

From September 13,  everyone over 12 can receive a coronavirus vaccine from state-run vaccination centres.

You can check your eligibility for vaccination, and book an appointment with a local general practice or community health centre, using the Australian Government Eligibility Checker.

Where can I get vaccinated?

COVID-19 vaccines are being delivered through GPs, hospital hubs, vaccination centres, community health services, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and outreach programs to certain workplaces and residential care facilities.

You can get the AstraZeneca vaccine at these locations close to the Yarra Ranges Shire:

EACH COVID-19 vaccination clinics

To book a COVID-19 vaccination you need to call 1300 097 151 between 8:30 am - 4 pm or book online.

Eastern Health COVID-19 vaccination clinics

Please note: Eastern Health only provide the AstraZeneca vaccine

Bookings are essential. Call the Department of Health Hotline on 1800 675 398.

Pfizer is available at:

Government vaccination sites

  • Exhibition Centre
  • Sandown Racecourse (Springvale)
  • Cranbourne Turf Club

Check your eligibility and book your appointment

Local GPs

How do I book a COVID-19 vaccination?

You can book your vaccine appointment:  

Learn more about getting the COVID-19 vaccine

I need help getting to my vaccination appointment

Victoria is offering free taxi vouchers to help people attend their COVID-19 vaccination appointments. The trial service is open to anyone who receives a Centrelink payment (excluding the Family Tax benefit).

Eligible people can arrange a taxi when they book a vaccination appointment by calling the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398.

What vaccine side effects should I expect?

Like any medicine or vaccine, COVID-19 vaccines can have some side effects. Side effects are mild for most people and are a sign that your immune system is responding to the vaccine. On average, these symptoms last a day or two.

Common reactions to any vaccination include:

  • pain where you had the injection (your arm),
  • muscle aches,
  • headache,
  • fatigue,
  • or fever.

You can check your side effects using the Australian Government’s Department of Health Side Effect Checker.

After your first appointment, you’ll 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 this occurs, vaccination providers have medicines available to effectively and immediately treat the reaction.

If you’ve previously had an allergic reaction to a vaccine, it’s important that you tell your vaccine provider and speak to your doctor before receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause blood clots?

Although there have been reports about a rare blood clot called thrombosis and thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) after a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, this has happened to a small number of people (with varying ages and pre-existing health conditions) out of the millions of people who have been vaccinated.

The vaccine is safe and effective in preventing COVID-19 death, transmission and hospitalisation.

All vaccines carry a very small risk of side effects however, catching and spreading COVID-19 is a greater risk and harm to the community.

To combat serious complications, there are now tests which can help identify TTS early. New ways of treating this condition are becoming available, and the government advises that people under 60 receive the Pfizer vaccine instead of AstraZeneca.

Visit the Australian Government Department of Health for more information about AstraZeneca.

I have concerns around my health and vaccination

If you have any concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine, speak to your doctor or other health care provider, and visit the Australian Government COVID-19 website. 

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Illustration by Irina Blok

Page last updated: 10 August, 2021