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: 30 June 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.  

As more people in Australia get their shots, you might have some questions. Which vaccine will you get and how?  Are they safe? And the big one – when will you be able to get yours? 

Here’s what you need to know.
 

I'm 40 or over and want my shot. What do I do? 


Good news! Everyone in Australia 40 and over is now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. In Australia, the AstraZeneca vaccine is being prioritised for people aged 60 and over, for those under 60 the prioritised vaccine is the Pfizer vaccine. 

Use the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility checker to find out when you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. If you are eligible now, you can view vaccination clinics and make a booking.  

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. 


I’m under 40. When will I get my shot? 


​The Pfizer vaccine is not available for most under 40s at the moment, but people aged 18 and over can book an appointment to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, despite it not being the preferred vaccine for this age group.

To get vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, you will need to make an informed decision by speaking with your vaccine provider. Some conditions may mean it is not suitable for you and it is important that you discuss this with your healthcare provider.

There are some specific groups who are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine even if they’re under 40 years old. You can use the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility checker to see what phase you are in and when you’re likely to get your shot.  

 

Who is currently eligible?

 
  • All adults aged 40 and over 
  • Quarantine and border workers 
  • Health care workers  
  • NDIS participants aged years 16 and over, and carers of NDIS participants of any age 
  • Aged care and disability care residents and staff 
  • People aged 16 and over with an underlying medical condition or significant disability 
  • People aged 16 and over who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 
  • People aged 16 and over who or are critical and high risk workers including defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat processing
  • Temporary visa holders aged under 50 years who are currently in Australia and have been approved for return travel to Australia through the travel exemption process
  • Anyone over 18 can now request to have the AstraZeneca vaccination by speaking with their health provider, despite it not being the preferred vaccine for under 60s

I’m under 60. Which vaccine is safe for me? 


The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is the prioritised vaccine for adults aged under 60. You may have heard about some changes to vaccine eligibility recently, so head to the next question for a breakdown of the changes!

In short, younger people are more likely than older people to experience a very rare blood clotting complication that has been observed with the AstraZeneca vaccine which is why if you're under 60 you'll likely get the Pfizer vaccine.

This advice is under constant review and experts will reassess the benefits versus risks across age groups of vaccination. This advice may change if a large outbreak of COVID-19 were to occur in Australia.  

On 28 June, it was announced that people aged 18 and over can book an appointment to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, despite it not being the preferred vaccine for this age group.

To get vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, you will need to make an informed decision by speaking with your vaccine provider. Some conditions may mean it is not suitable for you and it is important that you discuss this with your healthcare provider.
 

I thought the Astra Zeneca vaccine was safe for over 50s. Why has this changed? 


On 17 June, the Health Minister, Greg Hunt, announced a change to the vaccine roll out eligibility, with the opening of Pfizer to people under 60 (previously only available to those under 50). The Astra Zeneca vaccine remains the approved vaccine for those over 60. 

This change is a result of continued safety and efficacy analysis which is an ongoing process of any vaccine rollout. In Australia, the latest change comes following a decision made under medical advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). 

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) continues to monitor possible links between vaccinations and rare, but possible, side effects and makes changes and recommendations based on what is the safest option for people of all different ages. 

If you are over 50 and have already had your first shot of AstraZeneca, the recommendation is that you go ahead as planned and get your second dose. If you have questions or concerns about this change, the best thing to do is speak to your doctor or medical practitioner. 
An elderly woman in Nepal's remote far west receives the COVID-19 vaccine. UNICEF is leading the procurement and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to the most vulnerable communities around the world. © UNICEF/UN0431179


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. You just need to wait until you are eligible using the Eligibility Tracker and book your appointment.

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.
 

I’m under 16 or have kids under 16. Why aren’t kids getting vaccinated? 


Children are less likely to develop severe illness when infected with COVID-19, compared to cases in adults. Trials of COVID-19 vaccines for administration in children are underway globally.  

Children under 18 years will be eligible for the vaccine under phase 3 of Australia’s rollout, if research determines the vaccines are safe and effective and following approval from Australia’s medical regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).  

As the world’s leading organisation for children, we are keeping a close eye on this and will update you when children are eligible to be safely vaccinated. 
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. 

Guidance about which vaccine you should get if you are over 50 has recently changed. 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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