Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples about COVID-19 vaccines

Information about the COVID-19 vaccine program.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have been identified as a priority group for the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out program. This is because of the higher risk of getting and developing serious illness from COVID-19 due to a number of factors. This may include a higher rate of chronic health conditions and in some cases crowded-living conditions, which increases the risk of spreading the infection.

Why should I get vaccinated for COVID-19?

COVID-19 can cause serious health issues. Getting a vaccine is a safe and effective way of protecting yourself from getting really sick from COVID-19. Encourage your family, Elders and community to get vaccinated so that they are protected from serious illness from COVID-19.

The COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary, available to everyone in Australia and free.

Where and when should I get vaccinated?

There will be more than 2000 sites across Australia where you can get the vaccine, and many will be in rural and remote locations. The vaccines will be available at your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service, GP-led respiratory clinics, GPs, state and territory health services and pharmacies.

If there are several locations close to you, you may be able to choose where to get your vaccine.

The vaccine roll-out begins in February 2021 with the first priority group which includes:

  • quarantine and border workers
  • frontline health care workers
  • and aged care and disability care staff and residents.

If you are not in this group, you will be able to get your vaccine soon after. More details around the exact timeframe will be available from your local health worker in the coming weeks. This website will be updated regularly so check in here for updates.

Are there any known side-effects?

As part of the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s approval process, all vaccines are tested and studied for serious side effects.

As part of the vaccine assessment, the TGA looks at information about any side effects. For the vaccine to have approval in Australia, the benefit must be greater than the risk. All vaccines can have some side effects. These usually don’t last long and are mild.

Clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines have shown side effects that didn’t last long. These were typical of vaccines, such as pain at the injection site, fever or muscle aches and headaches.

Learn more about vaccine side-effects.

Can I choose not to be vaccinated?

Yes. The COVID-19 vaccination is voluntary, but strongly recommended. It will help you to not get really sick from COVID-19. Encourage your family, Elders and community to get vaccinated so that they are protected from serious illness from COVID-19.

If you choose not to get a COVID-19 vaccine, this will not affect eligibility for government assistance (Family Tax Benefit A) or childcare fee assistance.

Which vaccine will I be getting?

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will be delivered via 30-50 key hospital sites in urban and rural Australia, as it needs very cold storage.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, if approved for use in Australia, does not need the same cold storage. This vaccine will be delivered at your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service, GP-led Respiratory Clinics, GPs, state and territory health services and pharmacies.

You will need to receive two doses of the same vaccine. Which vaccine you get will depend on location and availability.

I live remotely and move between places, what should I do?

A vaccine will be accessible to everyone in Australia, no matter where they live. The Department of Health is working closely with state and territory governments and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) to make sure the vaccine is easily accessible to everyone.

There will be many sites across Australia where the vaccine will be available. A lot of them will be in rural and remote locations. People will need to receive two doses of the same vaccine. Your local health care worker will record information about the vaccine you receive in the Australian Immunisation Register, operated by Services Australia.

Please talk to your local health worker for more details.

Find out more about COVID-19 vaccines and getting vaccinated in Australia.

COVID-19 vaccination – Common questions (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples)

This document contains common questions and answers about the COVID-19 vaccines.

COVID-19 vaccination – Communication materials – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

A collection of COVID-19 vaccines communication materials for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and remote communities

A collection of resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and remote communities, about coronavirus (COVID-19).

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community kit

This community kit contains radio commercials, videos, posters and a range of other resources to help you share important messages about coronavirus with your community.

Artwork Acknowledgement

"Stand Together For A Healthy Future" by Jordana Angus

We acknowledge artist Jordana Angus for the use of her artwork ‘Stand Together For A Healthy Future’, which has been adapted for use in our materials.

Here is a description of the artwork:

This painting represents standing together to support each other in healthy living practices both physically and mentally. By being connected to community and staying informed on the latest reputable health advice we become stronger as a whole community. 

The impacts of coronavirus show how important it is to unite and take the steps required to keep ourselves, loved ones and our community safe; something we can apply to all areas of health and wellbeing. 

National coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccine helpline

If you need information about COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccines or help with the COVIDSafe app, call the telephone number listed below. This number operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

View contact

Last updated: 
1 March 2021

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