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COVID 19 vaccine update

by Melbourne Blood Specialists

About COVID-19 vaccines

Information about COVID-19 vaccines including side effects, who to contact for medical support, and useful resources about the vaccination process

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COVID-19 vaccines are being used in Victoria

These vaccines have been approved for use in Australia:

| | | | | ------------------- | ---------------------------------------- | ---------------------------------------- | | Vaccine brand | When you should get your second dose | Age groups eligible for this vaccine | | Pfizer vaccine | 6 weeks after your first dose | People aged 12-59 years | | AstraZeneca vaccine | 6 weeks after your first dose | People aged 18 years and older | | Moderna vaccine | 6 weeks after your first dose | People aged 12-59 years |

The Pfizer vaccine is also offered to anyone eligible for a reserved Pfizer appointment, regardless of their age. Read more about who can get vaccinated through reserved appointments.

Pfizer and Moderna are the preferred vaccines for people under the age of 60. People aged 18 - 59 years can choose to get AstraZeneca if they provide verbal consent on the risks, including thrombosis thrombocytopenia (TTS). If you book an AstraZeneca appointment you will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Learn more about:

You will need two doses (injections) of the vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines are much more effective if you get your second dose. Get the same brand of vaccine for each dose.

Vaccines are strictly tested for safety

Before COVID-19 vaccines are used in Australia, they must pass strict safety standards set by Australia’s independent medicines regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration


The COVID-19 vaccines being used in Australia have been used by hundreds of millions of people around the world. As at 15 September 2021, more than 14 million people across Australia have now received their first dose of this vaccine.

Both vaccines are very effective at preventing infection with COVID-19, and serious illness from COVID-19, including new variants of COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines are free, safe and voluntary. Choosing to get vaccinated helps protect ourselves, our families and our community.

Vaccine side effects

Common reactions to COVID-19 vaccinations include:

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

These are expected side effects that are generally mild and on average last a day or two. Serious side effects like allergic reactions or anaphylaxis are extremely rare.

Vaccine ingredients are tested for safety in the manufacturing process.

Your options if you are worried about side effects

  • Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider
  • Call Nurse on Call
  • Call the Australian Government Department of Health COVID-19 Hotline on 1800 020 080 (available 24 hours a day)
  • Call 000 if you have difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, are wheezing, or are otherwise seriously unwell.

When to seek medical attention after a vaccination

After your AstraZeneca vaccine, talk to your doctor immediately if:

  • You have an expected side effect of the vaccine that has not gone away after a few days
  • You have any of the following symptoms, particularly between 4 and 42 days after vaccination:

    • A headache that keeps coming back. It might:

      • be mild or strong

      • be present beyond 48 hours after vaccination, or come later than 48 hours after vaccination
      • feel worse when you lie down
      • go away for a little while when you take pain relief like paracetamol, but then it comes back
    • Nausea or vomiting.
    • Blurred vision, difficulty speaking, drowsiness or confusion, or seizures.
    • Abdominal (belly) pain that won’t go away.
    • Shortness of breath or chest pain.
    • Lower limb pain, redness or swelling.
    • Tiny blood spots under the skin away from the area where the injection was received.

View more on thrombosis thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) and related symptoms.

After your Pfizer or Moderna vaccine:

Talk to your doctor immediately if:

  • You have an expected side effect of the vaccine which has not gone away after a few days.
  • You feel pain or pressure in your chest.
  • It hurts when you breathe.
  • You find it hard to take deep breaths.
  • You have an irregular heartbeat, skipped beats or ‘fluttering’ feelings in your chest.
  • You faint.

For more on cardiac side effects after COVID-19 vaccination.

Tell your doctor you have recently received the vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccines are created following strong ethical standards

There are strong ethical standards surrounding the use of cells in vaccine development. COVID-19 vaccines meet these standards.

There are no foetal cells in the COVID-19 dose (injection) that you receive.

COVID-19 variants

All viruses evolve over time. This includes SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

When a virus spreads through a community, it makes more copies of itself. When the virus makes copies, it sometimes changes a little bit. These changes are called mutations. A virus with one or more new mutations is called a ‘variant’ of the original virus. AstraZeneca Pfizer, and Moderna vaccines are very effective in preventing serious illness or hospitalisation from COVID-19.

Maintain COVIDSafe behaviours

Reducing the spread of COVID-19 helps reduce the number of times the virus copies itself. To do this, we must maintain COVIDSafe settings to help reduce the chance the virus will change into a new variant.

In some cases, the variant acts in a different way compared to the original virus. For example, some new COVID-19 variants appear to be more infectious or cause more severe diseases.

How variants affect COVID-19 vaccines

Even if the virus changes, COVID-19 vaccines still help your body recognise and fight the virus.

After two doses, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines all reduce the risk of serious illness and hospitalisation from the Delta variant. It is important to get your second dose of the vaccine to protect against new variants of COVID-19.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)

looks closely at variants and their effect on vaccines as part of their approval and monitoring processes.

Variants may mean people need additional or booster shots, like we do for tetanus and whooping cough. It may also mean we need to be vaccinated regularly, like the flu vaccine each year.

How COVID-19 vaccines were developed

There are many reasons why COVID-19 vaccines were able to be developed quickly and safely.

Scientists developing these vaccines had access to a lot of resources.

To develop the COVID-19 vaccine, many people, companies and research facilities offered money, resources, equipment, and teamwork to make the process as efficient as possible because of the seriousness of the global pandemic.

Existing technologies helped researchers develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccines are a new type of vaccine, but the technology used to develop them is not new and has been researched and tested for many years.

Technology made data analysis quicker and easier for scientists researching COVID-19 vaccines.

This can also help scientists research lots of different vaccines at the same time.

Overlapping research and clinical trial phases made the process faster.

In traditional vaccine development, each phase is carried out separately, which takes longer.COVID-19 vaccines were safely manufactured at the same time as clinical trials, which helped make the process quicker. Ensuring a COVID-19 vaccine is safe to use is always the top priority during its development.\ \ Vaccine regulators check all COVID-19 vaccine data as soon as it becomes available (rather than waiting for all data to be ready and checking in one go, like they do for other vaccines). Regulators carry out all the same tests as they do with other vaccines.

The manufacturing process is more efficient.

The manufacturing process begins while a vaccine is going through the approvals process. As soon as a COVID-19 vaccine is approved for use, the vaccines are already made and ready to use.

Useful Australian Government resources