Date published: 
27 May 2021
Intended audience: 
General public
Top 3 news
Top 3 Dr Lucas De Toca
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Good morning, I am Dr Lucas De Toca and I lead the Department of Health's primary-care response to COVID-19. Welcome to top three. Today I’m joined by Linda who will be doing Auslan interpreting. Thank you Linda. We're in the land of the Ngunawal people. Dhawra nhuna, dhawra Ngunawal. Yanggu gulanyin ngalawiri, dhunayi, Ngunawal dhawra. Wanggarralijinyin mariny balan bugarabang. I also acknowledge that we're in Reconciliation Week and yesterday was National Sorry Day, so pay my respects to the survivors of the undead relatives of the people who suffered from the stolen generations. My shout out today goes to the people in Victoria, particularly Melbourne. You've been through the motions, you know what you're doing but we are really grateful that you're doing the right thing. You're getting tested, if you're a contact you're getting tested, if you have symptoms you're staying at home if you can and we are really grateful for your CovidSafe behaviours and what you're doing to keep the cluster contained and keep the rest of Australia safe.

First question, when and how do I use the Vaccine Eligibility Checker?

The short answer is anytime. The Vaccine Eligibility Checker is a tool that is available on, the Department of Health website, or you just google ‘Vaccine Eligibility Checker’, and it's an online facility or an online tool that allows you to check whether you're eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. It's pretty straightforward, if you if you think of the name. It's also available over the phone on the healthdirect National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080 and what it does is it asks you a number of questions about your age, your demographic or your occupation, and then lets you know whether you are currently eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine or whether you aren't. If you are not eligible, it gives you an opportunity to then register your interest so that you get a text message or some sort of notification when you become eligible in different phases of the vaccine rollout. Remember, at the moment COVID-19 vaccines are available for anyone 50 years and over, including people who are not Australian citizens, people who are not permanent residents, regardless of your visa status, regardless of your whether you're eligible for Medicare or not, if you're 50 years and over you can get your COVID-19 vaccine from any of the thousands of primary-care facilities, GPs, Aboriginal Community Control Health Services, state and territory vaccination clinics, or the Commonwealth vaccination clinics. All of them you can find on the Eligibility Checker. If you are under 50, you're eligible if you're considered to be in one of the at-risk groups, on what we call phases 1a or 1b, you're an occupation that is at risk of exposure from Covid, like you're an aged care worker or a disability worker or healthcare worker or some critical and emergency workers, like police or firemen and firewomen. Also for people who have underlying medical conditions, people who are immunocompromised and are high risk of severe outcome from Covid, and also people with severe, significant disability. So go online,, enter your questions in the Eligibility Checker. If you're 50 years and over, it's really straightforward, they ask you for your age and then whether you're identify as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, and your state, and then you can go and find a clinic out of thousands where you can book an appointment for your COVID-19 vaccine.

Second question, what is the AusVaxSafety COVID-19 survey and what is it used for?

The AusVaxSafety is a survey, is a tool, that is used as part of vaccine monitoring. It's really important with any therapeutic good, with any medicine or approved drug, that we continue to monitor how it's working in community and identify any signals or of any risk or issues, or even if there's no signals of risk and issues, we better understand how it's behaving in the community and then we can adjust our advice or our directions to the public. An important part of vaccine monitoring is surveys on side effects and AusVaxSafety is part of those surveys. It’s run by the National Centre for Immunization Research and Surveillance, called the NCIRS, and it helps, it's a pretty straightforward way for patients and providers to report any side effects associated with vaccines, including in this case, the COVID-19 vaccine. If the practice where you got your vaccine participates in the AusVaxSafety survey and program and you can send to it, you may get an SMS or notification after you receive your vaccine. within a pretty straightforward questions on whether you're experiencing side effects or not. Depending on your answers, you might have a follow-up call from your doctor and of course, as always, if you have concerns get in touch with your health professional. Even if your practice is not part of the AusVaxSafety or you don't get the SMS from AusVaxSafety, it's still really important that we capture and record any adverse events from the vaccine. So if you are worried or feeling unwell, contact your health professional and they will be able to notify their adverse event to the TGA, the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

And finally, if I get sick between receiving the two COVID-19 vaccines, should I wait until I am better to get my second dose?

This is one of those questions that don't have a straightforward answer and the answer, as with most things for anything relating with individual advice, is check with your health professional. If you're feeling a bit unwell, have a flu-like situation, cold, you ate a bad prawn or something along those lines, get in touch with your health professional and they will be able to provide you with advice on whether it's okay to proceed for your COVID-19 vaccine or whether you need to postpone it. Reminding though, remembering though that cold and flu symptoms, even if they're really mild, even if you just think that it's a quick cold and it will go away, we're still in a situation of COVID risk, so we really really encourage you to then isolate, get a test and then go back home and isolate at home until you get that negative test result. What's happening in Victoria right now is a pretty stark reminder that Covid may be circulating in the community so it is really important that if you have cold and flu symptoms, even if you're not worried about them, you isolate and get a test, as you have been doing over the last 15 months.That’s all for today. Thank you very much for watching and for your comments and keep submitting your questions. Thank you Linda, sorry I was a bit fast today, and have a great day, thank you.


Top 3 questions

  1. When and how do I use the vaccine eligibility checker?
  2. What is the AusVaxSafety COVID-19 survey and what is it used for?
  3. If I get sick between receiving my two COVID-19 vaccines, should I wait until I am better to get my second dose?