Millions of people around the world have now been safely vaccinated against COVID-19, bringing us all one step closer to ending the pandemic. This is our vaccination guide for Australian families which we are updating regularly with the latest information. Last updated: 31 August 2021.

Vaccines work by training the immune system in advance so that the body can quickly recognise and fight against viruses it is exposed to that can cause serious illness.  

Vaccines not only protect you but contribute to protecting those around you and the entire community.  Now as everyone in Australia is available for vaccination, you might have some questions. Here’s what you need to know.
 

I want my shot! What do I do? 


Good news! All people over the age of 16 in Australia are eligible for vaccination.

Use the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility checker to find out when you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. You can view vaccination clinics and make a booking. ​If can’t find a clinic or make a booking that suits you, please check back later. New clinics and appointments are being added all the time. 

If you are aged over 60, the AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) vaccine is prioritised for you.  

You can book an appointment for the Pfizer vaccine if you are: 

  • 12 to 15 years old and in a priority group 
  • 16 to 59 years old. 
The Pfizer vaccine is also recommended for you if you are: 
 
  • Pregnant and/or 
  • Under 18. AstraZeneca is not approved for people under 18 at this stage.
You can also call the national Coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccine helpline on 1800 020 080 for details about which clinic to call but call centre staff are unable to book an appointment on your behalf.    


Who can get the AstraZeneca vaccine?  


In line with advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) the AstraZeneca vaccine is prioritised for people aged 60 years and over. 

However, people aged 18 and over can book an appointment to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine by providing informed consent. If is recommended you speak with your vaccine provider or GP. Some conditions may mean it is not suitable for you and it is important that you discuss this with your health care provider. 
 
The best vaccine is the vacccine availble to you right now. You can use the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility checker to see when and where you can get your shot.
 

I’ve had my first shot of AstraZeneca vaccine; can my second shot be Pfizer?  


If you are aged under 60 years and have already had your first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and did not experience abnormal side effects, ATAGI recommends you still receive your second AstraZeneca dose. This will provide you with greater coverage against severe illness from COVID-19.
Deandra works as an Indi Kindi educator in Borroloola, Northern Territory. She decided to get vaccinated to protect herself and feel safe at work. © Simon Lister for the Moriarty Foundation / Wayne Quilliam for Indi Kindi


I’m under 16 or have kids under 16. When are kids getting vaccinated?  


In July, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was approved for 12 to 15-year-olds by Australia’s medical regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).   

People aged 12-15 years of age are eligible to get vaccinated if they meet the following criteria: 

  • Children with specified medical conditions 
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander children
  • Children in remote communities, as part of community outreach vaccination programs
  • Those on National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and/or living with disability requiring frequent assistance with activities of daily living, including down syndrome, muscular dystrophy, traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, and severe intellectual disability 

I’m breastfeeding, should I get the vaccine when I can? 


Yes! There is no evidence of safety issues in breastfeeding women who have received COVID-19 vaccines. If you are breastfeeding, you can receive Pfizer vaccine at any time. You do not need to stop breastfeeding before or after vaccination.  
 

I’m trying for a baby or plan to conceive in the next few months. Should I get the vaccine?   
 

Yes, it's safe to get the vaccine if you're trying to conceive. Getting vaccinated before conceiving means you will have some protection against COVID-19 throughout your pregnancy. 
 

I’m pregnant, can I get vaccinated? 


The Department of Health has confirmed that the Pfizer vaccine is safe for women at any stage of pregnancy and should be routinely offered to those expecting.

Pregnant women have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and their babies have a higher risk of being born prematurely. Vaccination is the best way to reduce these risks. 

For the latest information visit the Australian Department of Health website. You can find the Department of Health's decision guide for pregnant women here.

 

Hanan Kasim, 26, a health worker after being vaccinated at a health centre in Afar, Ethiopia. @UNICEF Ethiopia/2021/Tewodros Tadesse
 

What’s this about blood clots?  


Firstly, rest assured that all COVID-19 vaccines made available in Australia are safe and effective. Vaccines must be approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration – the TGA – Australia’s independent medicines regulator.  

A rare but serious side effect has emerged with the AstraZeneca vaccine – blood clotting syndrome called thrombosis in combination with thrombocytopenia (TSS). The syndrome only appears in four to six cases per 1 million but is currently estimated to occur at higher rates in those under 60.  

Based on this evidence the medical experts have weighed up the benefits vs risks of vaccination across different age groups and recommended Australia’s two types of vaccines be prioritised based on age. That is the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for those aged under 60 and AstraZeneca for those 60 and over. 

If you have questions or feel concerned, the best thing to do is speak to your doctor. You can learn more about vaccine safety here.


What to expect 


It’s not uncommon to feel a bit off in the days after your vaccination. Side effects are usually mild and go away within one or two days.  

Common side effects of both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines include: 
 
  • pain, swelling, tenderness, redness or itching at the injection site 
  • tiredness 
  • headache 
  • muscle pain 
  • nausea 
Less common side effects include:  
 
  • enlarged lymph nodes  
  • pain in limb  
  • dizziness  
  • decreased appetite  
  • stomach pain 
Remember to book your second appointment! Two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines approved in Australia are needed to be fully protect against the disease.

You should receive your second dose: 
 
  • about 12 weeks after your first shot if you get the AstraZeneca vaccine 
  • about 3 weeks after your first shot if you get the Pfizer vaccine
 

Want more information?  


If you’re worried about getting your COVID-19 vaccine, that’s perfectly normal. 

To find out more you can: 
  If you’ve heard something about vaccines and you’re not sure whether it’s accurate, you can also read Is it true? – a dedicated section on the Department of Health’s website that provides factual answers to speculation about vaccines. 

This article was written in partnership with the Austalian Department of Health. It will continue to be updated to reflect the latest information. 
 
Use the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility checker to find out  
when you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. 
Check my eligibility

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