Find out more about the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, including information on how it works, who it is approved for and advice about potential side effects.
Approval for use in Australia
Spikevax (Moderna) is approved for use in people aged 6 years and over.
The TGA provisionally approved it for use in Australia on:
- 9 August 2021 (for 18 years and over)
- 3 September 2021 (for 12 years and over)
- 17 February 2022 (for 6 years and over) (half the adult dose).
In Australia's vaccine rollout, the Moderna vaccine is now available for people aged 6 years and over.
The primary course of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for most people is 2 doses, 8 weeks apart.
It is preferable to have the first two doses 8 weeks apart, but the interval between doses can be reduced to 4 weeks. A shorter interval may be recommended for people at higher risk of severe COVID-19 (including older adults and people with underlying medical conditions), in an outbreak setting, or prior to international travel.
You need 2 doses of the Moderna vaccine, given at least 4 weeks apart. You may not be protected against COVID-19 until 14 days after your second dose.
Staying up to date
To be considered up to date with COVID-19 vaccination, you must have completed all the doses recommended for your age and health status.
Find out about how to stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines.
Moderna vaccine for 6 to 11 year olds
On 17 February 2022, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) provisionally approved the Spikevax (Moderna) vaccine for children aged 6 to 11 years .
The TGA’s provisional approval of Moderna for children was based on a careful evaluation of available data to support its safety and efficacy among this age group.
Vaccinating children can help protect children from getting COVID-19. It can also help prevent children passing the virus onto younger siblings, parents, grandparents and the wider community.
The paediatric vaccine dose of Moderna for children is half of the dose for people aged 12 years and over.
Children aged 6 to 11 years will receive a 2-dose primary course of vaccination, given 8 weeks apart. The interval can be shortened to a minimum of 4 weeks in special circumstances.
Parents, carers and guardians can book appointments through the Vaccine Clinic Finder. If you can’t find an appropriate appointment, please check back regularly as more appointments will become available.
Note that not all vaccine providers will administer Moderna to children aged 6 to 11 years.
What's in the Moderna vaccine
The Moderna vaccine is a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine. This type of vaccine uses a genetic code called RNA to make your body's cells produce the coronavirus’ specific spike protein.
Your immune system cells then recognise the spike protein as a threat and begin building an immune response against it. The RNA from the vaccine does not change your DNA in any way, and your body quickly breaks it down.
The Moderna vaccine does not contain any live virus, and it cannot give you COVID-19.
This video from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health explains how mRNA vaccines work.
You can read the full Spikevax Consumer Medicine Information document on the TGA site for more details.
Common side effects
As with any vaccine, you may have some temporary side effects after receiving the Moderna vaccine. This shows your immune system is working.
Common side effects after the Moderna vaccine include:
- pain at the injection site
- muscle pain
- fever and chills
- joint pain.
Less common side effects after the Moderna vaccine include:
- redness or swelling at the injection site
- swelling or tenderness in the armpit
- enlarged lymph nodes.
Most side effects are mild and go away within 2 or 3 days.
Rare side effects
Rare side effects after the Moderna vaccine are severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), myocarditis and pericarditis.
Myocarditis or pericarditis in young people
In rare cases, myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) and pericarditis (inflammation of the membrane around the heart) can develop after vaccination with the Moderna vaccine.
These rare effects on the heart typically occur:
- within 10 days of vaccination
- particularly after the second dose
- more often in men aged under 30.
Most cases have mild symptoms and recover well.
Contact a doctor or go to hospital immediately if you develop any of the following symptoms after a Moderna vaccination:
- chest pain
- pressure or discomfort in the chest
- irregular, skipped heartbeats or ‘fluttering’
- shortness of breath
- pain when breathing.
Low risk of developing myocarditis or pericarditis
In the US, reported rates in males were 10 cases per million after first doses, and 67 cases per million after second doses. The TGA is monitoring the risk in the Australian population and publishes weekly COVID-19 vaccine safety reports containing information about the TGA’s monitoring of COVID-19 vaccines.
We have printable guidance on myocarditis and pericarditis after mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.
The Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre has a page on myocarditis and pericarditis that includes an explanatory video.
Injection technique unlikely to cause myocarditis
ATAGI does not consider injection technique to cause adverse events because most myocarditis cases occur after the second dose. If accidentally injecting into a blood vessel was a factor, cases would occur equally after both doses.
Risks and benefits
People who should not have the Moderna vaccine
It's not recommended that you have the Moderna vaccine if you have had:
- severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of an mRNA COVID19 vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer)
- anaphylaxis after exposure to any component of the vaccine, including polyethylene glycol (PEG)
- myocarditis and/or pericarditis attributed to a previous dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer)
- any other serious adverse event, that following review by an experienced immunisation provider or medical specialist was attributed to a previous dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine.
Our patient resources include fact sheets about the Moderna vaccine and what to expect after your shot.