COVID-19 vaccination – After your Spikevax (Moderna) vaccine

Information in Auslan for people with disability about what to expect after being given the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

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Today you have received the Spikevax (Moderna) vaccine.

This vaccine can prevent people from becoming ill from COVID-19. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine does not contain any live virus, and it cannot give you COVID-19. It contains the genetic code for an important part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus called the spike protein. After getting the vaccine, your body makes copies of the spike protein. Your immune system will then learn to recognise and fight against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The genetic code is broken down quickly by the body.

As with any vaccine, you may have some side effects after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Common side effects after Moderna include

  • pain at the injection site
  • tiredness
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • fever and chills
  • joint pain.

Less common side effects after Moderna include

  • redness or swelling at the injection site
  • swelling or tenderness in the armpit
  • nausea/vomiting
  • enlarged lymph nodes.

These side effects are usually mild and usually go away within two or three days. Some people will experience more significant flu-like symptoms from this vaccination compared to other common vaccinations and may require time away from normal activities. These symptoms may occur after either dose but are more common after the second dose.

If you experience pain at the injection site or fever, headaches or body aches after vaccination, you can take paracetamol or ibuprofen (note, ibuprofen is not recommended during pregnancy). You do not need to take paracetamol or ibuprofen before vaccination. If there is swelling at the injection site, you can use a cold compress.

Rare side effects that have been reported after Moderna are:

  • severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)
  • myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart). Most reported cases have been mild and recovered quickly, although longer-term follow-up of these cases is ongoing. Cases occur predominantly after the second dose and predominantly in younger males (aged < 40 years).

You should seek medical attention after vaccination if you:

  • think you are having an allergic reaction. Call 000 if you experience severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, a fast heartbeat or collapsing
  • have chest pain, pressure or discomfort, irregular heartbeat, skipped beats or ‘fluttering’, fainting, shortness of breath or pain when breathing
  • are worried about a potential side effect or have new or unexpected symptoms
  • have an expected side effect of the vaccine, which has not gone away after a few days.

For symptoms that are not urgent, you can see your regular healthcare provider (usually your GP). They will then make a formal report on your behalf to your state or territory health department or directly to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

If you would prefer to report it yourself, please visit reporting suspected side effects associated with a COVID-19 vaccine and follow the directions on the page.

Some side effects from COVID-19 vaccination might be similar to symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever). However, Moderna does not contain any live virus and cannot cause COVID-19. You may not need to get a COVID-19 test or isolate if you:

  • develop general symptoms like fever, headache or tiredness in the first two days after vaccination, and
  • are sure that you don’t have any respiratory symptoms (e.g. runny nose, cough, sore throat, loss of smell or loss of taste).

However, you should check the current guidelines in your state/territory for the most up to date information. This advice may change in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak in your local area. You may still need to get a COVID-19 test if you meet other criteria, for example if you are a close contact of a known COVID-19 case. If in doubt, seek medical assessment.

It is important that you receive two doses of Moderna for your primary course. These doses are generally given 8 weeks apart, but the interval between doses can be reduced to 4 weeks. A shorter interval may be recommended for people at higher risk of severe COVID-19 (including older adults and people with underlying medical conditions), in an outbreak setting or prior to international travel. The second dose is likely to prolong the duration of protection against COVID-19.

Some people who are severely immunocompromised should have a third dose of the vaccine to achieve the same level of immunity as the general population. An mRNA vaccine (Comirnaty (Pfizer) or Moderna) is preferred to Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca). Novavax can also be used for this third dose.

More information is available at ATAGI recommendations on the use of a third primary dose of COVID-19 vaccine in individuals who are severely immunocompromised.

People aged 16 years or over should have a booster dose three months or more after their primary course, to prolong their protection against COVID-19. People aged 16 and over can have a booster dose of Pfizer.

People aged 18 and over can have a booster dose of Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax. AstraZeneca is not preferred but can be used in some instances

People aged 12-15 years who completed their primary course 3 or more months ago, and meet one of the following criteria, are also eligible for a booster dose:

  • severely immunocompromised
  • have a disability with significant or complex health needs, and/or
  • have complex and/or multiple health conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19.

People who meet one or more of the above criteria, may receive a booster dose of Pfizer.

Immunocompromised people who have received 3 primary doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are also recommended to have a booster dose (4th dose), 3 months after their primary course, in line with the timing for the general population.

This group of people may also be eligible for a winter booster dose (5th dose) 4 months after their first booster.

More information on booster doses

To be considered up to date with COVID-19 vaccination, you must have completed all the doses recommended for your age and health status.

Find out about how to stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines.

For information on how your personal details are collected, stored and used.

For more information visit COVID-19 vaccine information in your language or call 1800 020 080.

For interpreting services, call 131 450.

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We are updating this resource. Please read the statement from ATAGI on booster doses and check back later.

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