COVID-19 vaccination – Five important questions about COVID-19

Professor Peter Collignon from the Australian National University answers five important questions about COVID-19 and getting the vaccination.


I think the risk of getting COVID is low. Is it worth getting vaccinated?

The risk at the moment of COVID is low in Australia but it can change so quickly. Look at Taiwan, which had a better record than Australia, similar population. It's now got hundreds of cases per day. If people are not immune, this virus can rapidly spread through a population. What we need is people immune against the virus and the way to do that is through vaccination.

If I get the vaccine, can it affect people around me?

No, is the short answer. These vaccines make what we call spike proteins at the end and you do not transmit that to other people. So no, the only effect you'll have on others if you're vaccinated, you're less likely to get infected, and then less likely to pass on an infection to those around you.

So I've got a history of blood clots. Does that mean I shouldn't have AstraZeneca?

No, it doesn't mean that. These are unusual blood clots. They’re blood clots due to an immune reaction. And perversely, you have very low, what we call platelets, which usually cause clotting. So, the only problem we've had with this is a drug called Heparin. So if anybody's had a reaction like this to Heparin, they shouldn't get the AstraZeneca vaccine. But ordinary clots that you get in your lung and your legs, that doesn't seem to be increased or decreased with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Why can't I get the flu and the COVID vaccine at the same time?

Well, we tend to advise people to put them apart not because they probably can't be given at the same time but if you have any reactions, particularly because these are newer vaccines, we want to make sure we know what it's due to. You're better off having the COVID vaccine first and delaying the flu vaccine if it's available for you because you're in the right age group. COVID is 20 or 30 times higher mortality rate than influenza. And the vaccine is two or three times more efficacious.

Can I get a vaccine while breastfeeding?

Yes, you can definitely have the vaccine if you're breastfeeding. These vaccines all produce this spike protein, and it's not a live virus that's replicating. Vaccination is not only important for yourself, but for those around you. So if you're around people who've got chronic conditions, are elderly, you need to get vaccinated so you can help protect them as well.

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