Top 3 COVID-19 vaccine questions – reasons to vaccinate, COVID-19 vaccine and cancer, and getting tested after vaccination

In this video Dr Michael Kidd, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, answers the top 3 COVID-19 vaccine questions you’ve been asking on our social accounts.


Hello and welcome to today's Top 3. I'm very pleased to be joined by my wonderful Auslan interpreter today.

My shout out today is to everybody involved in delivering the COVID-19 vaccine through phase 1b. As you know, we started on Monday this week, to roll out the vaccine through general practices, through the Commonwealth funded general practice led respiratory clinics, through Aboriginal Health Services, as well as through facilities established by states and territories right around the country. So, a huge thanks to our nation's general practitioners, our wonderful practice nurses, the receptionists and practice managers running our clinics, our aboriginal health workers in clinics right across Australia, and a big thank you to the people who are delivering the vaccine out to us, right across the country. This week, we're rolling out the vaccine in over a thousand sites around Australia. Over the next three to four weeks this will increase to four and a half thousand sites right across this very big country, so huge thank you to everybody involved.

First question, why should I have the vaccine when I'm fit and healthy?

Well COVID-19 of course, can cause serious disease, in not only elderly people, or people who are unwell. We've seen COVID-19 cause very serious disease in young people as well. So it's really important that everybody gets protected from COVID-19 by receiving the vaccine, when it comes to be your turn, as we have the national roll out.
The other issue for young people is that there is the risk if you are infected with COVID-19, of developing a condition called Long Covid. And this is being seen in quite a number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 infection, but then have persistent symptoms of feeling quite unwell for many weeks, or months, after they've actually been unwell. So you don't want to get Long Covid, you don't want to be infected with COVID-19.

Of course, the other reason for being vaccinated, is to protect the people in your life, to make sure that you don't bring Covid home and infect older people, or people with chronic health problems in your own family. And of course, we're also wanting to protect everyone in the community. So when it becomes to be your turn please roll up to your clinic, roll up your sleeve and get your shot.

Second question, is it safe to receive the COVID-19 vaccines if I'm undergoing cancer treatment?

So that's a very important question. If you're undergoing cancer treatment it's a good idea to talk to your treating doctor about when you should receive the vaccine, and just to make sure that it's safe to receive the vaccine with whatever treatments you're under at the moment.

If you go to the Vaccine Eligibility Checker, on the Australian Government Department of Health website - If you go into the Eligibility Checker you'll find details of the chronic health conditions, which mean that people are included under the current phase 1b, and so are eligible now, to receive their vaccine. This includes many people who currently have cancer, or have a past history of cancer. It includes adults who are survivors of childhood cancer, includes people who have had a bone marrow transplant, or other treatments in the past. It includes people who've had a diagnosis of cancer over the last five years, including blood cancers like leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma and a large number of other cancers as well. And people who are receiving treatments at the moment or have continuing cancer.

So please check the website and if you're in any doubt, please talk to your doctor about when you should be receiving the vaccine. What we do know, is that people who are currently experiencing cancer, or who are currently on treatments, especially immune suppressive treatments, are at increased risk if they contract COVID-19. Increased risk of serious, disease serious complications, from the disease, so it's very important that people are receiving protection.

Finally, should I still get tested if I feel unwell after receiving the COVID-19 vaccines?

Yes. So this is a question we're being asked a lot. So, we've been saying over the last year that if you experience symptoms of fever or respiratory tract infection, flu, cold please arrange to get tested for COVID-19.

Now, we do know that some people after they receive the COVID-19 vaccine may experience mild side effects. Of course, you may get pain or redness or swelling at the site of the injection, but also for the next day or two you may feel a little bit feverish, tired, or achy as a side effect of the vaccine. If that happens, at this time, you don't need to get a COVID-19 test. But if you have symptoms like that, and you also have a runny nose, or a sore throat, or a cough, or difficulty breathing, that could definitely be COVID-19, and you should be getting a test. At the moment we don't have community transmission occurring in Australia, if we do get community transmission, then this advice may change, and we may actually advise you after the vaccine, if you get symptoms, even if it's only tiredness, or achiness, or a little bit of fever, to still get a COVID-19 vaccine. So please keep an eye on the advice from the Australian Government - and from the health authorities in your state and territory.

These vaccines are going to help to keep us all safe, but it's very important that we follow the continuing advice and any restrictions in place as we move through vaccinating the entire population of Australia over the coming year.

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  1. Why should I have the vaccine when I am fit and healthy?
  2. Is it safe to receive the COVID-19 vaccines if I am undergoing cancer treatment?
  3. Should I still get tested if I feel unwell after receiving the COVID-19 vaccines?
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