COVID-19 vaccine overview
Key points about the COVID-19 vaccine
- The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective and will protect you from COVID-19.
- All vaccines given in Australia have passed tests to prove they are safe and work well.
- The COVID-19 vaccine is free and you can choose to have the vaccine or not.
- You need two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. You can receive a booster dose after your second dose if eligible.
- Even if you’ve had COVID-19, you should still get vaccinated for additional protection.
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).
What to expect with your COVID-19 vaccine
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 two injections. It’s very important you have your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to ensure you have maximum effect. Remember to book your second dose as soon as possible after your first 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.
Severely immunocompromised people aged 12 and over are strongly encouraged to receive additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Booster doses are available for people aged 16 and over.
Who can get the 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.
Read more about Queensland’s vaccine rollout and eligibility.
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.
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.
If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis to anything else, including after receiving a vaccine, you can still get the vaccine, but you must tell the immunisation provider beforehand. If you have any concerns, speak with your doctor or health professional for advice.
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.
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.
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 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.
Suspected side effects can be reported to your vaccination provider or other healthcare professional. They will then make a formal report on your behalf to Queensland Health.