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Your COVID-19 vaccine questions, answered

Tuesday, 1 June 2021
Your COVID-19 vaccine questions, answered

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  

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.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccination:

Why should I get vaccinated right now?

As we’ve seen with the recent serious outbreak in Melbourne (May 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 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.
  • If you are above the age of 60, you can get an AstraZeneca jab, either by appointment or walk-in.
Please note: If you have already received your first shot, you must receive the same vaccine type for your second shot.

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.

How long do I need to wait in between shots?

  • For the Pfizer shot, you need to wait at least three 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.

The vaccination rollout has moved to phase 2a. From the 8th of June,  adults aged over 40 are eligible to receive the vaccine from participating locations. Adults aged 40 – 59 years are advised to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

The following people are also eligible in phases 1a and 1b:

  • people aged 70 and over
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 55 and over
  • people with underlying health conditions
  • critical and high-risk workers currently employed
  • healthcare workers currently employed
  • household contacts of quarantine and border workers.

vaccine eligibility

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 arrange an appointment at these locations close to the Yarra Ranges Shire:

Main Street Medical Lilydale

Main Street Medical Centre offer a vaccine program every:

Monday (9am – 12pm) &

Thursday (4pm to 6.30pm)

You will need to call their Reception on 9739 3837 and make an appointment.

EACH COVID-19 vaccination clinics

Please note: EACH only provides the AstraZeneca vaccine, and at this time, they are not providing vaccinations for anyone under the age of 50, pending further government advice.

Please keep an eye out on their website below for future updates.

To book a COVID-19 vaccination you need to call 1300 097 151 between 8:30 am - 4 pm or book online at www.each.com.au/covid-19-vaccination-clinics.

Eastern Health COVID-19 vaccination clinics

Please note: Eastern Health only provide the AstraZeneca vaccine, and at this time, they are not providing vaccinations for anyone under the age of 50, pending further government advice. Please keep an eye out on their website below for future updates.

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

How do I book a COVID-19 vaccination?

You can book your vaccine appointment:  

Learn more about getting the COVID-19 vaccine

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