If you are a Disability Service Provider please visit the disability service provider page.

Why you should get vaccinated for COVID-19

Some people with disability are at greater risk of becoming very sick if they catch COVID-19. Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is a safe and effective way of protecting you, your family and the community. It also protects other people who may not be able to be vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone in Australia.

You can choose if you want to get vaccinated for COVID-19

The COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary. You can choose whether to have the vaccination or not.

When you will get your COVID-19 vaccine

The Australian Government is committed to providing everyone in Australia with access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.

At first, the number of COVID-19 vaccines will be limited and doses will be available to higher-risk priority groups based on advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), a team of medical experts.

People with disability and workers in residential services and disability care group homes will be among the first to access the vaccine. Find out what to expect on COVID-19 vaccination day at your disability residential accommodation.

The next priority group will include some people with disability, who are at greater risk of becoming very sick with COVID-19, including:

  • People with disability aged 70 and over
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability
  • People with disability with underlying medical conditions such as:
    • immunocompromised
    • multiple comorbidities
    • chronic lung disease
    • diabetes
    • cardiovascular disease
    • severe obesity.

Other priority groups include quarantine and healthcare workers, elderly people and workers in aged care homes, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and frontline emergency workers.

Family members of people with disability are not identified as a priority group by ATAGI.

The COVID-19 vaccination program is ongoing and anyone in a priority group will be able to access the vaccine at any time as it is rolled out.

Read more about who will receive priority access to vaccines.

Where you will get your COVID-19 vaccine

Many people with disability living in group residential support settings will get their vaccination at their residence. In-reach vaccination teams, managed by the Australian Government, will provide these vaccinations.

Later this year, as more vaccine doses become available, people will be able to access vaccinations at:

  • GP respiratory clinics
  • general practices that meet specific requirements
  • Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Services
  • state-run vaccination clinics, and
  • pharmacies.

All locations offering COVID-19 vaccination should be accessible, including physical access and communication.

Home visits may be available for people who are unable to visit a COVID-19 vaccination location on a case-by-case basis. Details will be made available later this year.

Number of doses

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been provisionally approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for people 16 years and older. The Pfizer vaccine will require two doses, given at least 21 days apart.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has been provisionally approved by the TGA for people 18 years and older. The TGA, from a regulatory perspective, has reviewed all the available evidence and determined that the AstraZeneca vaccine can be safely administered 4-12 weeks apart.

More information about doses of other COVID-19 vaccines will become available as the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approves them for use in Australia.

COVID-19 vaccine approvals

The TGA, Australia’s independent medicines regulator, has strict standards for reviewing possible COVID-19 vaccines. They only approve vaccines that prove to be safe and effective.

The TGA will continue to check every batch of the vaccines for quality and watch out for any adverse events after the vaccination.

The TGA will also continue to monitor any arising incidents that relate to COVID-19 vaccines both nationally and internationally.

The COVID-19 vaccine you will get will depend on which approved and registered vaccines are available at the time of your vaccination.

Likely side effects from COVID-19 vaccines

Medical experts have studied COVID-19 vaccines to make sure they are safe.

Most side effects are mild and don’t last for long. This might include pain where you were injected, fever or muscle aches.

The health professional giving you your vaccine must take specific training, which includes information on COVID-19 vaccines and pre-existing medical conditions.

You can speak to your doctor about your medical condition and whether having the vaccination is the right decision for you.

COVID-19 vaccination and the annual flu vaccine

Getting a flu vaccine and a COVID-19 vaccine on the same day is not recommended. The preferred minimum interval between a dose of seasonal flu vaccine and a dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is 14 days.  Find out more about influenza and COVID-19 vaccines.

Attending COVID-19 vaccination appointments

People with disability can choose to attend their vaccination appointment with whomever they feel most comfortable. This could include a support worker, family member, carer or friend.

You will still need to stay COVIDSafe and practice good hygiene and physical distancing, after getting your vaccination. This includes wearing masks if applicable depending on the location.

COVID-19 transmission after vaccination

Clinical trials have shown that the Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines protect against COVID-19 symptoms and severe disease after a person receives two doses.

We don’t have enough information to understand the long term protection against COVID-19 after vaccination at this stage, including for people with disability. We also don’t have enough information from research to understand whether people who have been vaccinated can pass the virus onto others.

The TGA will continue to monitor the ongoing research to understand how the vaccines work over time. This is why it’s important for you to continue practising good hygiene, physical distancing and other COVIDSafe recommendations, even if you have been vaccinated.

Vaccination of your support workers

Vaccinations in Australia are voluntary, including the COVID-19 vaccine, and you have a choice over the people you employ to support you.

You can ask your disability service provider to encourage your support worker to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Getting support if you choose not to be vaccinated against COVID-19

COVID-19 vaccines are voluntary and you can decide whether you want to be vaccinated or not.

If a disability service provider or support worker refuses to continue providing supports to you because you decided not to get the COVID-19 vaccine, it could be a breach of the NDIS Code of Conduct (NDIS Providers), In this case, a complaint can be made to the NDIS Commission.

Providing consent

ATAGI has developed resources, including consent forms, to help with providing informed consent to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

Resources are also being developed to support people with disability who are unable to consent themselves. Informed consent for each dose of the vaccination must be appropriately given and recorded on their behalf. More information will be provided about this process.

See the Easy Read version about giving your consent for COVID-19 vaccination.

Easy Read resources

COVID-19 vaccination – Easy Read resources

A series of fact sheets about COVID-19 vaccines in Easy Read format.

Auslan videos

COVID-19 vaccination – How vaccines work – Auslan
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 vaccination – TGA approval process – Auslan
2:35
Read transcript

Vaccines are one of the most effective way 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 COVID-19 vaccines are currently going through rigorous testing processes. They will 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:

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 rollout.

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 practising good hygiene, physical distancing and getting tested.

The Department of Health is closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay up to date with the latest information, resources and advice.

COVID-19 vaccination – Vaccine development time – Auslan
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, manufacturers 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

The Department of Health is closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stay up to date with the latest information, resources and advice. 

COVID-19 vaccination – Live action montage 30 seconds – Auslan
0:30
Read transcript

COVID-19 changed our lives.

For us to live our everyday lives more freely, we need the added protection of COVID-19 vaccines.

Our experts are looking carefully at the clinical trial results, along with data on quality and manufacturing of the vaccines.

We only approve vaccines when we have enough evidence that they work and are safe.

The roll-out of vaccines will be available in batches, so we’re making sure they go where they’re needed first.

To keep up to date visit health.gov.au 

Authorised by the Australian Government.

The Department of Health is closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay up to date with the latest information, resources and advice.

COVID-19 vaccination – Stay informed – Auslan
0:30
Read transcript

Australia is working hard to ensure we all have access to safe, effective and free COVID-19 vaccines, which will give us the protection to go about our everyday lives.

The COVID-19 vaccines are being assessed carefully by independent clinical experts to ensure all potential vaccines meet Australia’s high safety and quality standards. 

After vaccines are approved, they will be rolled out, going to those most in need of protection first. 

To keep up to date visit health.gov.au

The Department of Health is closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay up to date with the latest information, resources and advice.

COVID-19 vaccination – Priority rollout animation – Auslan
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

The Department of Health is closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay up to date with the latest information, resources and advice.

COVID-19 vaccination – Australia’s COVID-19 vaccines – Auslan
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 100 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 hotel quarantine workers. 

Once more supplies are available, the vaccines will be rolled out to everyone in batches 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

The Department of Health is closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay up to date with the latest information, resources and advice.

Continue COVIDSafe practices

To keep you and your community safe, whether you have been vaccinated or not, you should continue to:

  • Stay 1.5 metres away from other people and avoid handshakes and physical 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.

For more information

Australian Government, state and territory government helplines will be have information on how people with disability can access the vaccine.

Disability Gateway Helpline: 1800 643 787

Disability Gateway website: www.disabilitygateway.gov.au

If you are deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment, you can also call the National Relay Service on 133 677.

The National Coronavirus Helpline: 1800 020 080

Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National): For translating and interpreting services call 131 450 and ask for the helpline you would like to be connected to.

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: 
5 March 2021

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