Top 3 COVID-19 vaccine questions – Flu and COVID-19 vaccines, COVID-19 tests and symptoms

In this video, Dr Lucas De Toca answers the top 3 questions you’ve been asking on our social accounts.

Date published:
General public

Hello, I'm Dr Lucas De Toca, and I lead the Department of Health’s primary-care response to COVID-19. A bit of a different format today, I am joined by Linda who will be doing Auslan interpreting and I am also joined Shira, who is the nurse who will be administering the Flu vaccine for me today. I am not eligible yet for the COVID-19 vaccine and as winter rapidly approaches, it’s important that we all get a flu vax when it’s offered to us. So we just wanted to show how easy it is to get the flu vaccine.

We just check the information before, as it usually happens.

Have you had a flu vaccine before?

I have.

And you are well today?


I need you to stay a 15 minutes afterwards. Relax the muscle here.


You need to drink lots of water for the following two days. No heavy lifting.

Wasn’t planning to.

You may experience side effects like a slight fever or sore arm, these are the common side effects, or you may not. If you have the burning sensation at the site of the injection, use frozen packs. All done.

Thank you so much.

No worries.

Thank you, Shira.

As you saw, that was really easy, it didn’t hurt a bit, and I'm not just pretending, I didn’t even notice it. So, it's really important that we stay up-to-date with our flu vaccination, especially if we are still not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination. Now back to regular Top Three.

Question one – why can't I get the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time?

Yeah so, the advice is that the COVID-19 vaccines and the flu vaccines, or any other vaccine for that matter, are spaced 14 days apart. There is no evidence or indication that having the two vaccines close to each other causes any issue, it is more so we can be sure if there are any side effects, which vaccine they belong to. The COVID-19 vaccines are new and so we are really interested to see how they work in community and as we continue the ongoing monitoring that the Therapeutic Goods Administration does for vaccines, and it's important that if you experience a common side effect like a sore arm or fever or other symptoms, we know whether it is due to the flu vaccine of the COVID-19 vaccine. That's why it's important that when you go to get your flu vaccine or your COVID-19 vaccine, you talk to your health professional if you have received any of the other ones.

As a general rule, if you are in the early phases of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, if you are 50 years or older or in one of the at-risk professions or groups that has early access to the vaccine, prioritise your COVID-19 vaccine if you can, because it is really important that we get on with that. If you are in the later phases like I am because of my age, then get your flu vaccine out of the way and you’ll have plenty of time to go through the 14 day waiting period before you get your COVID-19 vaccine.

Question two, I'm pretty sure I just have a cold so why should I get a COVID-19 test?

Yeah, community testing, that is people going for a test to a state testing centre, or a GP respiratory clinic, because they feel ill has been one of the most effective ways to detect community transmission that we’ve had in Australia and it's really important we maintain that. Some of the recent incursions of cases we've had in Australia from hotel quarantine or international arrivals over the last few months were detected at a community testing facility because people had symptoms and presented. We barely have COVID in Australia so it is more likely if you have cold or flu symptoms it is a cold. However, we have no way of knowing that and the symptoms are similar, you might have fever, 37.5° or over, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, general tiredness, or not as common but you may have a sudden loss of taste of smell, any of those symptoms could be COVID-19 and the only way to know that is if you isolate at home when you have them, no matter how mild they are, and then go for a test and wait at home until you get the result. That was the advice a year ago and it is still the advice now. It's the only way we can make sure that any undetected community transmission of COVID can be addressed and stamped out.

Question three – if I've been in close contact with someone who has had COVID-19, how long would the symptoms take to appear?

Yeah so the incubation period, the time between exposure to the virus and manifesting symptoms varies. Generally it doesn't go for longer than 14 days, but in some cases it might take a little bit more than that. As a general rule, people who develop symptoms – because not everyone develops symptoms – do so within 4 or 5 days of exposure but it can be as quickly as a day after and many people don't develop symptoms at all. Essentially, if you have any of the symptoms we described before, get a test and isolate at home. If you've been to any of the venues that are considered to be of exposure and the public health advice in your jurisdiction is to stay home and get tested, please do that. And the general rule is, if you have symptoms, the window for symptoms appearing may vary, people might not get symptoms. If someone you live with has been confirmed to be a close contact, remember, maintain physical distancing (audio dropout)

[Script is as follows]

If you have been identified as a close contact of a person with COVID-19 you need to isolate in your home or another suitable place of residence.

You must also get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible, even if you don’t have symptoms.

If you develop symptoms at any stage of your self-isolation period, you will need to be tested again.

People living in the same household as an identified close contact will also need to self-isolate until the close contact receives a negative test result.

Remember to check in using a QR code or pen and paper to any venue that you visit.

Thank you, Linda.

Thank you.

Top 3 questions

  1. Why can’t I get the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time?
  2. I’m pretty sure I just have a cold, so why should I still get a COVID-19 test?
  3. If I have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, how long will symptoms take to appear if I have the virus?

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