COVID-19 vaccines

Having a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine available for everyone in Australia will help protect you, your family and your community from coronavirus.

COVID-19 vaccination - safe, effective, free

Thursday 8 April 2021: The Australian Government has received advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation about the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Information across this website is currently being updated. Please read the ATAGI statement for the latest information about the recent AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine safety advice.

COVID-19 vaccines will be free for everyone in Australia, even if you are not an Australian citizen or permanent resident. This includes people without a Medicare card, overseas visitors, international students, migrant workers and asylum seekers.

Priority groups for vaccination

The Australian Government wants everyone in Australia to have access to a safe, free, COVID-19 vaccine if they choose to be vaccinated.

Australia’s independent medicines regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), has strict standards for reviewing possible COVID-19 vaccines. They only approve vaccines that are safe and effective.

People who most need protection will be vaccinated first from 22 February 2021. People will be vaccinated in groups according to the following order:

Group 1a (Phase 1a)

  • Quarantine and border workers
  • Frontline at-risk health care workers, including staff in GP respiratory clinics and COVID-19 testing facilities, ambulance workers, paramedics, ICU and emergency department workers, and clinical and ancillary support workers
  • Residential aged care workers and residents
  • Workers in disability residential accommodation
  • People with disability living in disability residential accommodation.

Group 1b (Phase 1b)

  • Adults over 70 years
  • All other health care workers
  • Begin vaccinating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults
  • People with an underlying medical condition, including people with a disability
  • Critical and high risk workers including defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat processing workers.

Vaccination will then be available for the broader community during 2021. These rollout groups include:

Group 2a (Phase 2a)

  • Adults over 50 years
  • Continue vaccinating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults
  • Other critical and high risk workers.

Phase 2b

  • Remaining adult population
  • Catch up any unvaccinated Australians from previous phases.

Phase 3

  • People under 18 years if recommended.

We will update this information if there is any change to the priority groups.

If you have a disability

Some people with disability are at greater risk of becoming very sick if they catch COVID-19. Some people with disability will have access to COVID-19 vaccines in the first phases of the rollout. For example, this includes people with disability living in disability residential accommodation. More information is available about when and how people with disability will get the vaccination.

Where the vaccine will be available

The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be available at 30 to 50 hospital hubs around Australia. Commonwealth-led vaccination will visit aged care facilities and disability residential accommodations to provide vaccinations.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, and any other vaccines that are approved for use, will be available at other locations including:

  • GP respiratory clinics
  • General Practices
  • Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Services
  • state-run vaccination clinics, and
  • pharmacies.

Number of doses

The COVID-19 vaccines approved in Australia require two doses.

The two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine need to be given at least 21 days apart.

Our Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has considered advice from the TGA as well as the international COVID-19 vaccinations, and decided that the AstraZeneca vaccine should be given 12 weeks apart. ATAGI has decided that this will create the best immune response, ensure the most effective protection and maximise broader community coverage.

What this means for you

Whether you are in a priority group or not, the best thing you can do is stay up to date and continue to be COVIDSafe.

If you are in a priority group, the Government will provide more information about how to get vaccinated in the coming weeks.

To keep you and your community safe, before and after vaccination, it is important that you continue to:

  • Stay 1.5 metres away from other people and avoid handshakes and contact with people outside your household.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell and get tested for COVID-19. You must stay at home until your results come back.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use hand sanitiser.
  • Always cough or sneeze into your arm or a tissue and put the tissue in the bin straight away.
  • Download the COVIDSafe app to help health officials let you know if you have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19.

Vaccine approvals

Australia’s independent medicines regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), has strict standards for reviewing possible COVID-19 vaccines. They only approve vaccines that are safe and effective.

The TGA will continue to check every batch of the vaccines for quality and watch out for any unexpected side-effects after the vaccination.

Why COVID-19 vaccines have been developed so quickly

The urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic means that all available resources and efforts have been directed towards finding a safe and effective vaccine.

This has happened so quickly because:

  • funding and collaboration between vaccine developers and governments around the world at levels never seen before
  • advancements in technology that has allowed vaccines to be developed faster than in the past
  • clinical trials progressed more quickly because COVID-19 was widespread, so differences between vaccinated groups and unvaccinated groups could be detected sooner.

Protection through vaccination

Vaccines strengthen your immune system by training it to quickly remember and fight specific germs.

Vaccination involves receiving a vaccine from a needle or drops in the mouth by a trained health professional. A COVID-19 vaccine will be from a needle.

After vaccination, if you do catch the disease, your illness is likely to be less severe.

Vaccines are a safe way to strengthen your immune system without causing illness.

Likely side effects from COVID-19 vaccines

All medicines, including vaccines, have risks and benefits. Usually, any side effects are mild and may only last a few days.

Some of the normal temporary side effects for COVID-19 vaccines include pain at the injection site, fever or muscle aches.

See your doctor, nurse or go directly to the hospital if:

  • you have a reaction that you consider severe or unexpected
  • you are concerned about your condition after vaccination.

The TGA continues to oversee vaccines for safety while they are being used in Australia. More information about Australia’s system for monitoring the safety of vaccines, and how to report a suspected side effect, is available on the TGA website.

You can choose if you want to get vaccinated

Vaccination in Australia is voluntary, and you can choose if you want to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

If you choose not to have a COVID-19 vaccine, this will not affect your family’s eligibility for Family Tax Benefit Part A or childcare fee assistance.

In the future, vaccination against COVID-19 might become a requirement for travel or for people working in certain high-risk workplaces like aged care. If this becomes the case, there will be exemptions in place for people who are unable to be vaccinated due to medical conditions.

International and domestic travelling when vaccinated

The Australian Government’s advice for travellers has not changed, even if you have been vaccinated.

Passengers travelling to Australia must:

  • get tested for COVID-19 72 hours or less before the scheduled flight departure
  • show their evidence of a negative test result when checking in to their flight. 

People arriving in Australia may be quarantined for 14 days and might have to follow other travel restrictions by state and territories.

Before you travel interstate, you should check your local state and territory website for information about travel restrictions:

Where to go for trusted information

Its important people seek information from credible sources about the COVID-19 vaccination program.

For accurate, evidence-based information about COVID-19 vaccines visit the Home Affairs misinformation page

You can also call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080. For translating and interpreting services call 131 450.

Subscribe to COVID-19 vaccine updates

Subscribe to updates to get news about Australia’s COVID-19 vaccines.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines

Resources

Video

Australia’s COVID-19 vaccines – explainer
1:45
Read transcript

Everyone in Australia will have access to  COVID-19 vaccines. Australia has purchased more than enough vaccines for everyone, but first, each vaccine must get the tick of approval from Australia’s health regulators.

All up, Australia has purchased more than 114 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, to be able to quickly and effectively deliver the vaccines to everyone in Australia.

Each vaccine is rigorously tested to meet the standards of our world-leading regulator the Therapeutic Goods Administration – or TGA.

The TGA reviews clinical trial data and results for assessment of potential COVID-19 vaccines. Now that our first vaccine has been approved, it will be made available to those most at risk. They include health, aged and disability care workers, aged and disability care residents and border and quarantine workers.

Once more supplies are available, the vaccines will be rolled out to everyone in  Australia throughout this year.,

Two doses will be needed per person to offer the best protection. The vaccines will be an important part of our fight against COVID-19, helping to prevent death and serious illness. Despite this, the approval will not be rushed.

In the mean time we all need to continue to be COVID safe by practising good hygiene, physical distancing and getting tested.

To learn more visit health.gov.au

covid-19
1:12
Read transcript

Safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines will offer protection against the virus, helping to prevent death and serious illness.

But how do they actually work?

Like other vaccines, such as the flu shot, COVID-19 vaccines will be given with a needle.

This triggers an immune response in the body – which is the body’s natural way of defending itself.

The vaccine will strengthen your immune system by training it to recognise and fight against the virus that causes COVID-19. Vaccines may contain either killed or weakened versions of the virus that causes the disease – or a small part of the virus, such as a protein.

There is no risk that you will get the disease from a vaccine.

When your immune system recognises this virus, or parts of it, in the vaccine as being foreign, it responds by creating memory cells and antibodies that will protect you against future infection or disease.

As a result, you will be less likely to have severe COVID-19 symptoms after a vaccination.

To learn more, visit health.gov.au

covid-19-vaccine
2:15
Read transcript

Vaccines are an effective way to protect us from diseases like COVID-19, preventing death and serious illness.

Vaccines can take a long time to develop, because they must undergo multiple phases of clinical trials.

Researchers around the world have been working hard to develop COVID-19 vaccines from the very early stages of the pandemic. They have been able to speed up development of vaccines without compromising safety and effectiveness.

Thanks to the collaboration between scientists, researchers, manufactuers and distributors, the development and implementation planning phases have been run side-by side, instead of one after the other.

Research into how to respond to a pandemic has been ongoing, long before COVID-19.

This research looks at data from previous coronavirus’ such as SARS in 2002 and MERS in 2012, giving researchers a head start to build the COVID-19 vaccines.

Thanks to our community maintaining COVIDSafe behaviours like good hand hygiene and physical distancing, we have had more time to test vaccines for use in Australia while still keeping us safe from the virus. Our scientists are still working quickly and have been able to deliver our first vaccine, but no corners have or will be cut.

In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, or the TGA, has been rigorously assessing the potential COVID-19 vaccines for safety, quality and effectiveness. They will continue to do this with the remaining vaccines before they will be approved and made available to Australians this year.

Once approved, each batch must also be checked to make sure it meets the same quality standards.

All these steps are important before the vaccinations begin.

To learn more visit health.gov.au

covid-19-vaccine
2:01
Read transcript

Protecting Australians, including our most vulnerable communities from the exposure of COVID-19, is critical.

COVID-19 vaccines will be safe and effective, helping to prevent death and serious illness. Now that our first vaccine has been approved, it will be made available to those most in need of protection first.

These groups have been identified based on expert medical advice.

People at increased risk of exposure, infection and transmission of COVID-19, include:

  • health, aged care and the disability care workforce
  • aged and disability care residents, and
  • people in other higher risk settings, such as quarantine and border workers.

And…

People who have an increased risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19 include:

  • older people
  • people with pre-existing, medical conditions, and
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Priority access will also be given to people working in critical services, such as:

  • emergency services providers, defence force personnel, other health care workers, and
  • people supplying and distributing essential goods and services, such as meat processing.

The delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to those most in need will continually be reviewed based on medical data and evidence.

Once the COVID-19 vaccines have been rolled out to priority groups, doses will be made available to all other adults.

Research from the pandemic has shown that young people are less likely to have severe illness from the virus.

If evidence supports the decision and the vaccines are approved for young people,  they will then receive the vaccine.

To learn more, visit health.gov.au 

covid-19
2:35
Read transcript

[Music]

Vaccines are one of the most effective ways to protect against diseases like COVID-19.

Before COVID-19 vaccines can be given to people in Australia, they must first be approved by our world leading regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (known as the TGA).

They regulate and approve all vaccines, medicines and other medical goods in Australia.

All potential covert 19 vaccines are currently going through rigorous testing processes. They'll be carefully assessed for safety quality and effectiveness before they can be approved.

COVID-19 vaccines will only be approved if clinical trials can show the benefits to Australians against COVID-19.

To be approved, it must pass a comprehensive six-stage process and the TGA will not cut corners.

[Music]

A pharmaceutical company or sponsor must submit a pre-application.

The TGA will look at this against clinical data and the need for the vaccine.

If the application meets the TGA's requirements, the sponsor can then apply to register the vaccine for use in Australia.

At this point, they must include a significant amount of clinical and non-clinical information to support the request.

Next the experts at the TGA look at the available data.

They can ask for more information to fill any gaps and they can also ask for independent advice.

Once the vaccine is fully evaluated, the TGA will decide whether to provide what they can for an initial registration.

The vaccine can now be registered and be supplied in Australia.

All registered vaccines are closely monitored by the TGA who will respond to any safety issues.

COVID-19 vaccines will be no different

The TGA will also be checking all the COVID-19 batches before they are released for roll-out.

The first approved vaccines will go to priority groups.

Until we all get vaccinated, it's important that we continue to be COVID-safe by practicing good hygiene, physical distancing and getting tested.

To learn more visit tga.gov.au

English (auto-generated)

COVID-19 vaccines - Stay informed about COVID-19 vaccines (15 seconds)
0:15
Read transcript

Australia is working hard to ensure we have access to

effective COVID-19 vaccines.

To protect us all.

For more information, visit health.gov.au

Authorised by the Australian Government, Canberra.

Radio

COVID-19 vaccination – Radio – COVID-19 vaccine rollout

This radio ad, in English, provides information about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and the people who are eligible to receive the vaccine first.

Read transcript

Message from the Australian Government, Canberra.

COVID-19 vaccines are available in Australia. People who need protection the most are being vaccinated first including healthcare, quarantine, residential aged care and disability workers, and the people they look after in care accommodation.

Vaccinations for the first group of people will be organised by employers and care facilities. They will contact eligible people with information on how to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

For more information on the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines in Australia visit health.gov.au or call 1800 020 080.

For the translating and interpreting service call 131 450.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Radio – COVID-19 vaccine roadmap

This radio ad provides information about Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine national roll-out strategy.

Read transcript

Message from the Australian Government, Canberra.

The Australian Government has released its plan for providing the COVID-19 vaccine free for everyone in Australia, including all Australian citizens, permanent residents and temporary visa holders.

People who need the most protection, or are most at-risk of exposure to the virus, will receive the vaccine first.

Stay up to date on vaccines from trusted sources.

For more information, visit health.gov.au or call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080.

For the translating and interpreting service call 131 450.

Fact sheets

COVID-19 vaccination – What to expect on COVID-19 vaccination day at your residential aged care facility

Information for residential aged care residents, families, carers and loved ones about what to expect in the lead up to, and on the COVID-19 vaccination day.

COVID-19 vaccination – after your Pfizer (COMIRNATY) vaccine

A patient fact sheet about what to expect after being given the Comirnaty (Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd) COVID-19 vaccination.

COVID-19 vaccination – Preparing for COVID-19 vaccination

A patient factsheet about preparing for COVID-19 vaccination.

COVID-19 vaccination – Consent form for COVID-19 vaccination

A patient consent form for COVID-19 vaccination.

COVID-19 vaccination – Information on COVID-19 Pfizer (COMIRNATY) vaccine

A fact sheet for patients about the Pfizer (COMIRNATY) vaccine.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – TGA to give Australians confidence to get the COVID-19 jab

This publication provides an update from Adjunct Professor John Skerritt, leader of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The publication explains the TGA process for assessing and approving COVID-19 vaccines and how they make sure the vaccines are safe and effective.

Last updated: 
8 April 2021

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