COVID-19 vaccine safety and side effects

COVID-19 vaccinations are safe and save lives. They are being closely monitored in the largest global vaccine rollout in history. Most side effects are mild and go away in a couple of days. In Australia the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) monitors vaccine safety and side effects.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has a vaccine approval process that thoroughly assesses a vaccine's safety. 

The TGA monitors COVID-19 vaccine safety by:

      Safe in pregnancy

      The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has provided the following advice on the use of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy:

      • If you are pregnant you are a priority for COVID-19 vaccination and can be vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines at any stage of pregnancy.
      • If you are trying to become pregnant, you do not need to delay vaccination or avoid becoming pregnant after vaccination.
      • Real-world evidence has shown that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are safe if you are pregnant and breastfeeding.
      • The AstraZeneca vaccine can be considered if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning pregnancy, if you cannot access Pfizer or Moderna, and if the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks for you.
      • If you are pregnant, you have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Your baby may also have a higher risk of being born prematurely.
      • COVID-19 vaccination may provide indirect protection to babies by transferring antibodies through the placenta (during pregnancy) or through breastmilk (during breastfeeding).

      Find out more in the COVID-19 vaccination decision guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning pregnancy

      Vaccine side effects

      The TGA report that most side effects are mild and go away within a couple of days.

      AusVaxSafety is tracking whether people experience side effects after COVID-19 vaccines. Their data shows that in Australia:

      • over half the participants report no side effects (around 55%)
      • just under half report any side effect (around 44%)
      • less than 1% report visiting a doctor or emergency department after being vaccinated
      • reports are consistent with side effects seen in clinical trials and surveillance in other countries. 

      You do not need to prepare for side effects by taking anything before getting your vaccination. 

      For details on possible side effects for each vaccine, see:

      Side effect checker

      If you have had a COVID-19 vaccination and think you may be experiencing side effects, you can use healthdirect's side effect checker. Click the button below or call 1800 020 080, 24 hours a day.

      Check side effect symptoms

        When to seek help

        Contact your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible or go directly to a hospital if you have:

        • a reaction that you consider severe or unexpected
        • shortness of breath
        • chest pain
        • swelling in your leg
        • persistent abdominal (belly) pain
        • severe and persistent headaches, blurred vision, or other neurological symptoms
        • tiny blood spots under the skin that are not at the site of injection.

        Reporting a suspected side effect or reaction

        If you are worried about a suspected side effect or reaction, you can report it yourself or through a health professional. Find out more about reporting suspected side effects associated with a COVID-19 vaccine.

        Compensation scheme

        We are setting up a COVID-19 vaccine injury compensation scheme for people who experience significant adverse events. 

        Continuous monitoring

        The TGA continues to monitor vaccines even after they are approved. 

        The TGA's monitoring systems mean it can oversee the safety of a vaccine across the country. In the unlikely event that there is a safety risk, the TGA will inform healthcare providers and the community as soon as possible.

        Patient resources

        Our patient resources include fact sheets about each vaccine and what to expect after your vaccination. 

        COVID-19 vaccination – Patient resources

        This collection contains resources for patients receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.

        Last updated: 
        6 January 2022

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