COVID-19 vaccine safety and side effects

COVID-19 vaccinations are safe and save lives. They are closely monitored in the largest global vaccine rollout in history. Most side effects are mild and go away in a couple of days. In Australia the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) monitors vaccine safety and side effects.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has a vaccine approval process that carefully assesses a vaccine's safety. 

The TGA monitors COVID-19 vaccine safety by:

Safe in pregnancy

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has provided the following advice on the use of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy:

  • If you are pregnant, you can get vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine at any stage of pregnancy.
  • If you are trying to become pregnant, you do not need to delay vaccination or avoid becoming pregnant after vaccination.
  • Real-world evidence has shown that the Pfizer vaccine is safe if you are pregnant and breastfeeding.
  • If you cannot have the Pfizer vaccine, you can talk to your doctor about if the Novavax vaccine is right for you.
  • If you are pregnant and unvaccinated, you have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Your baby may also have a higher risk of premature birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy).
  • COVID-19 vaccination may provide protection to babies by transferring antibodies through the placenta (during pregnancy) or through breastmilk (during breastfeeding).

Find out more about pregnancy, breastfeeding and COVID-19 vaccines.

Vaccine side effects

The TGA report that most side effects are mild and go away within a couple of days.

AusVaxSafety is tracking whether people experience side effects after COVID-19 vaccines. Their data shows that in Australia:

  • over half the participants report no side effects (around 55%)
  • just under half report any side effect (around 44%)
  • less than 1% report visiting a doctor or emergency department after vaccination
  • reports are similar to the side effects seen in clinical trials and monitoring in other countries. 

You do not need to prepare for side effects by taking anything before getting your vaccination. 

For details on possible side effects for each vaccine, see:

When to seek help

Contact your doctor as soon as possible or go directly to a hospital if you have:

  • a reaction that you think is severe or unexpected
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • swelling in your leg
  • pain in your stomach that does not go away
  • severe headaches that do not go away
  • tiny spots under the skin that are not where you got your vaccination injection..

Reporting a suspected side effect or reaction

If you are worried about a suspected side effect or reaction, you can report it yourself or through a doctor. Find out more about reporting suspected side effects associated with a COVID-19 vaccine.

Compensation scheme

If you have experienced a rare side effect you may be eligible for compensation under our COVID-19 vaccine injury compensation scheme

Continuous monitoring

The TGA continues to monitor vaccines across the country even after they are approved.

In the unlikely event that there is a safety risk, the TGA will inform healthcare providers and the community as soon as possible.

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