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COVID-19 vaccine overview

Key points

  • The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective and free.
  • All vaccines given in Australia have passed tests to prove they are safe and work well.
  • You need to keep your vaccination up-to-date, which means people over the age of 16 need to have had two primary doses and a booster dose.
  • People over 50 and at greater risk of severe illness should have a fourth vaccine dose (econd booster).
  • Severely immunocompromised people over the age of 5 should get a third primary dose.
  • Even if you’ve had COVID-19, you should still get vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccines used in Australia

There are 4 COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Australia:

  • Pfizer (Comirnaty)
  • AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria)
  • Moderna (Spikevax) and
  • Novavax (Nuvaxovid).

These vaccines have been provisionally approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

How the vaccine is given

The vaccine is given via an injection into your upper arm by a health professional who has been trained in giving the COVID-19 vaccine. To get the full benefit of the vaccine you will need to keep your vaccination up-to-date.

Second dose timing

There is a window in which you can receive your second dose:
  • Pfizer (Comirnaty) should be administered 8 weeks from your first vaccination.
  • Moderna (Spikevax) should be administered 8 weeks from your first vaccination.
  • Novavax (Nuvaxovid) should be administered at least 3 weeks from your first vaccination. Providers can consider extending the interval dose for Novavax from a minimum of 3 weeks to 8 weeks.
  • AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) should be administered 12 weeks from your first vaccination.

If you do not receive your second dose within the above timeframes, there is no cause for concern. As long as you get your second dose as soon as you can outside these timeframes, you will still be afforded excellent protection against severe COVID-19 infection and do not need to start over.

You should book your second dose as close to this window as possible. If you are having difficulty finding a booking within this window, contact the GP or clinic where you had your first dose or call 134 COVID (134 268) if you had your first vaccination at a Queensland Health vaccination location.

People aged 5 and over are strongly encouraged to receive additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine if they are severely immunocompromised.

Booster doses are available for people aged 16 and over.

Who can get the COVID-19 vaccine

Children aged 6 months to 5 years can receive the Moderna (Spikevax) COVID-19 vaccine.

Children aged 5 to 11 can receive the Pfizer (Comirnaty) COVID-19 vaccine.

Children aged 6 to 11 can receive the Moderna (Spikevax) COVID-19 vaccine.

All people aged 12 and over can receive the Pfizer (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax) COVID-19 vaccine.

Adults aged 18 and over can receive the Novavax (Nuvaxovid) COVID-19 vaccine.

Adults aged 60 years and over can receive the AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) COVID-19 vaccine. This is based both on the increased risk of complications from COVID-19 with increasing age (and thus increased benefit of vaccination) and the potentially lower risk of the rare side effect Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS) with increasing age.

You can still receive the AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) COVID-19 vaccine when you are under 60 years if:

  • you have already received your first dose without any serious side effects
  • the benefits are likely to outweigh the risks for you
  • you have made an informed decision based on an understanding of the risks and benefits.

Vaccination after having COVID-19

Even if you’ve had COVID-19, you should still get vaccinated. You are far less likely to get severe disease should you get COVID-19 again if you have been vaccinated.

You should wait for 3 months after confirmation that you had COVID-19 before receiving your next COVID-19 vaccine dose (including any booster) and then get your next scheduled dose as soon as possible after this period.

You must not attend a vaccination appointment if you have any COVID-19 symptoms.

Call 134 COVID (134 268) 24 hours, 7 days a week for:

  • information on vaccines
  • assistance with vaccination bookings or appointment enquiries
  • for help understanding this information or to ask for an interpreter – it is free.

People who cannot get the COVID-19 vaccine

You must not get a COVID-19 vaccine if you have had any of the following:

  • anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) to a previous dose of the same COVID-19 vaccine
  • anaphylaxis after exposure to any ingredient of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

If you are pregnant you can receive the Pfizer (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax) COVID-19 vaccine at any stage of pregnancy.

If you are breastfeeding you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine at any time. You do not need to stop breastfeeding before or after vaccination.

No safety concerns have been identified for anyone who received a COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy. If you have any concerns, speak with your doctor or health professional for advice.

Side effects

All medicines and vaccines can cause side effects. If you do experience any side effects, most of them are minor and temporary. However, some side effects may need medical attention. Read about potential COVID-19 vaccine side effects.

Long-term effects of COVID-19 vaccines

Like all medicines, COVID-19 vaccines do not last long in your body. The ingredients in vaccines degrade within a few days, and it takes a few weeks for your body’s immune response to develop. When there are rare, but serious side effects from vaccines, they occur within the first few weeks, while your immune system is being activated.

There is a very rare and serious risk of TTS with AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) COVID-19 vaccine and myocarditis or pericarditis from Pfizer (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax) COVID-19 vaccines.

Immunity from vaccination is much less risky than immunity through exposure to a pathogen like the virus that causes COVID-19. We do not have long-term research on health outcomes of COVID-19, however we do know the virus can damage the lungs, heart and brain, even in mild cases, which increases the risk of long-term health problems. Research into post-COVID-19 fatigue and illness that lasts more than 3 months is ongoing. Learn more about Your recovery from COVID-19 (Long COVID).

Vaccine product information

Vaccine safety monitoring and reporting side effects

If you have had a COVID-19 vaccination and think you may be experiencing side-effects, you can check online for advice.

Check side effects

Suspected side effects can be reported to your doctor. They will then make a formal report on your behalf to Queensland Health.