COVID-19 vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is underway in Queensland

Just as there are vaccines to help protect you against diseases like measles, chicken pox or the flu, there is a vaccine that will help protect you against COVID-19. The free COVID-19 vaccine is being rolled out. People who are currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine can register for an appointment at a vaccination location in Queensland.

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Questions and Answers about COVID-19

Why vaccination is important

It is important to have a COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine helps to reduce the serious effects of COVID-19 in people who become infected with the virus. It will also reduce the need for preventive measures, such as border closures and travel restrictions, as well as the impacts on health and the economy.

Vaccines are the most effective way to protect against infectious diseases. They do this by strengthening your immune system by training it to recognise and fight against specific viruses.

When you get vaccinated, you are protecting yourself and helping to protect the whole community. Once enough people in the community are vaccinated, it slows down the spread of disease. Higher vaccination rates make outbreaks far less likely.

When a high proportion of the community is vaccinated against a disease, it creates herd immunity. This means that enough people are immunised to stop the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases to protect those who can’t be vaccinated.

Vaccine safety

Before the COVID-19 vaccine was approved for use in Australia, it was approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The TGA assesses the safety, quality and effectiveness of the vaccines before they are registered for use in Australia. This process is amongst one of the most thorough in the world.

There are different types of vaccines, and they use slightly different methods, but they have a similar effect. They prime your body’s immune system to be ready to fight an infection, by exposing it to dead or weakened versions of the virus or bacteria, or selected bits of it.

It is important to understand that the COVID-19 vaccine will not infect you with the COVID-19 virus, because the vaccine does not contain live COVID-19 virus. The vaccine is designed to trigger our immune system to make antibodies to the spike protein of the virus. This means if you were to ever get the COVID-19 virus, your body is better prepared to fight the illness.

During development, vaccines are tested on thousands of volunteers through a number of phased trials which are designed to assess the vaccine for safety and side effects, and must demonstrate:

  • how the vaccine works
  • that the vaccine prompts an effective immune response in different people
  • that the vaccine is effective in preventing the general population from getting the disease.

There are three clinical phases and no testing phase has been skipped during the development of the COVID-19 vaccine. Some of the testing phases have been combined or run at the same time to help test the COVID-19 vaccine quickly and make it available as soon as possible.

Only vaccines that are approved by the TGA will be provided in Australia, including 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.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is not recommended for people with a past history of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, idiopathic splanchnic vein thrombosis and anti-phospholipid syndrome with thrombosis.

A safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine will be offered to eligible Australians in a phased rollout. To find out more, click here.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrician and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) and Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommend that pregnant women are routinely offered Pfizer mRNA vaccine (Cominarty) at any stage of pregnancy. This is because the risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 is significantly higher for pregnant women and their unborn baby.

Global surveillance data from large numbers of pregnant women have not identified any significant safety concerns with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines given at any stage of pregnancy. Furthermore, there is also evidence of antibody in cord blood and breastmilk, which may offer protection to infants through passive immunity.

Pregnant women are encouraged to discuss the decision in relation to timing of vaccination with their health professional.

Women who are trying to become pregnant do not need to delay vaccination or avoid becoming pregnant after vaccination.

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.

Vaccine effectiveness

No. Vaccines do not contain the live virus itself. Each vaccine is designed so you won’t get the disease you are being protected against.

No. Both the Pfizer and the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines require the full 2-dose course for the best immune response. Individuals may not have the best protection until 7-14 days after their second dose of the vaccine.

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.

The potential for an adverse event, such as an allergic reaction following vaccination for people with a history of severe allergies, is well known. This is why it is standard protocol to closely monitor anybody in this situation for 30 minutes after their vaccination.

However, 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.

COVID-19 and influenza

Yes. As always, all Queenslanders will be encouraged to have their flu vaccination in the lead up to flu season. You should wait at least 7 days between having the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine. More information can be found here.

No. There is no clinical evidence to suggest that the COVID-19 vaccine reacts with any other vaccines. However, to be safe, experts have suggested waiting at least 7 days between having the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccination booking and appointment

  • The vaccine rollout will happen in 5 stages. People at higher risk of COVID-19 will be given priority to get the vaccine.
  • Complete this Vaccine Eligibility Checker to find out when it will be your turn to get the vaccine. If you are eligible in the current stage, you will be able to access a list of vaccine clinics and book your appointment. If you cannot complete this checker, speak with your doctor or call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for advice.

1. The vaccine will be given as an injection, into your upper arm muscle. If possible, wear a short sleeve shirt to make it easier.

2. The list of what you need to bring and what information you need to tell your immunisation provider for your vaccination can be found here.

3. It is important that you tell your immunisation provider if you have had another vaccination in the 14 days before your COVID-19 vaccine appointment. They may ask you to reschedule your appointment. You are not required to test for COVID-19 before vaccination if you do not have a fever or any respiratory symptoms.

You should not attend a COVID-19 vaccination appointment if you:

  • are unwell with fever, cough, runny nose or other symptoms that could be from COVID-19
  • are awaiting COVID-19 test results
  • have tested positive with COVID-19 and you are in isolation
  • are in quarantine
  • are a close contact of someone with COVID-19.

If you fall into any of the above categories, you will need to reschedule your appointment for vaccination. If you need assistance with rescheduling your appointment call 134 COVID (13 42 68).

You must remain in the vaccination clinic for observation for at least 15 minutes after vaccination in case an allergic reaction occurs. If you have a history of severe allergy, you will be asked to wait in the clinic for 30 minutes.

More information about COVID-19

Find out if you’re able to receive your free COVID-19 vaccination, with the online checker.

Have any symptoms or feeling unwell? Find your closest COVID-19 testing location or contact your local hospital.

Get up-to-date information on Queensland’s response to Covid-19.