FAQs

Last Updated: 14 Oct 2021 3:35pm

These FAQs have been prepared by the Tasmanian Department of Health.

They include material originally developed by the Australian Government, the Melbourne Vaccination Education Centre and the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance.

The vaccine program



All Tasmanians aged 12 and over are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in 2021.

The COVID vaccines available in Tasmania are Pfizer (Comirnaty), Moderna (Spikevax), and AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria).

All vaccines approved for use in Australia protect against COVID-19. Being vaccinated reduces your risk of severe illness requiring hospitalisation or admission to the intensive care unit (ICU). It also reduces your risk of death from COVID.

By getting a COVID vaccine, you can help protect yourself, your community, and Tasmania from COVID-19.

You will be protected from severe COVID-related illness and will have the peace of mind of protecting your loved ones.

High levels of vaccination against COVID-19 are key. The more people get vaccinated, the more we can reduce the health, social and economic impacts of COVID. Every dose of vaccine makes a difference.

Vaccines are available at:

  • Tasmanian Government Community Clinics
  • Participating GP clinics
  • GP-led Respiratory Clinics
  • Participating pharmacies
  • Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services

Find out where you can get a vaccine by visiting  Vaccines Eligibility Checker (healthdirect.gov.au)

For Pfizer (Comirnaty) it is recommended that the second dose is given three weeks (21 days) after the first dose.

For Moderna (Spikevax), it is recommended that the second dose is given four weeks (28 days) after the first dose.

For AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) vaccine, it is recommended the second dose is given 12 weeks after the first dose.

These intervals give the greatest protection against COVID-19.

You will be booked in for your second vaccine when you get your first vaccine.

You can find out where you can get vaccinated and book an appointment by visiting Book Your Vaccine.

You can access a free record of vaccination or a COVID-19 digital certificate online via MyGov through your Medicare or My Health Record account.

For step-by-step help to get your vaccination record or COVID-19 digital certificate, visit the Services Australia website. If you need more help or can’t get online, ring the Australian Immunisation Register on 1800 653 809.

For more information about accessing your immunisation history or showing you’ve received the vaccine through myGov, visit Services Australia.

Health professionals who have completed COVID-19 vaccination training will administer the vaccines.

These health professionals include GPs, other doctors, pharmacists, paramedics, and registered and enrolled nurses.

If you are between 12 – 59 years old, you should get either of the mRNA vaccines – Pfizer (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax). The mRNA vaccines are preferred for those aged under 60 years old by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisations (ATAGI) because of the increased risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopaenia syndrome (TTS) with AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) in younger people.

If you are 60 years old or older, you should get whichever vaccine is available for you. This includes AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria), Pfizer (Comirnaty), or Moderna (Spikevax).

The expert medical advice from ATAGI is that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risk of TTS in people over 60 years old.

You should not get an mRNA vaccine -- Pfizer (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax) -- if you have:

  • A history of anaphylaxis to Pfizer (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax) vaccines or their components, including polyethyelene glycol (PEG).
  • Myocarditis and/or pericarditis linked to a previous dose of either Pfizer (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax)
  • A history of any other serious adverse event attributed by a specialist doctor to a previous dose of either Pfizer (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax).

You should not get an AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) vaccine if you have:

  • A history of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis,
  • A history or heparin-induced thrombocytopenia,
  • A history of idiopathic splanchnic (mesenteric, portal and splenic) venous thrombosis,
  • A history of capillary leak syndrome
  • A history of anti-phospholipid syndrome with miscarriage or thrombosis
  • A history of anaphylaxis to a AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) vaccine, or an ingredient of the vaccine, including polysorbate 80
  • Thrombosis with thrombocytopaenia syndrome (TTS) after the first dose of AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria)vaccine, or

A history of other serious adverse event attributed by a specialist to a previous dose of AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) vaccine

People of any age who have already received their first dose of AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) vaccine without a serious adverse event can safely receive their second dose of AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) vaccine as recommended by ATAGI.

Yes. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) and the Australian Technical Advisory Group (ATAGI) recommend that pregnant people are routinely offered Pfizer (Comirnaty) COVID-19 vaccine at any stage of pregnancy. This is because the risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 is significantly higher for a pregnant person and their unborn baby.

Global surveillance data from large numbers of pregnant people has not identified any significant safety concerns with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines given at any stage of pregnancy. There is also evidence of antibody in cord blood and breastmilk, which may offer protection to infants through passive immunity.

Pregnant people are encouraged to discuss getting vaccinated with their health professional. People trying to get pregnant do not need to delay getting vaccinated or avoid becoming pregnant after vaccination.

No, you will not be able to choose which COVID-19 vaccine you are offered.

The Pfizer vaccine is preferred in those aged under 60 years of age. See ‘is there anyone who should not get the vaccine/which vaccine should I get.’

Initial supply of COVID-19 vaccines will be limited, and whichever vaccine is available in Tasmania will be first offered to people with the highest risk of getting, spreading or having severe illness from COVID-19 and then more broadly to people of eligible age in the rest of the community (i.e. aged 16 to 59 for Pfizer, and aged 60 or older for AstraZeneca) as per the Australian Government’s national rollout strategy.

If you are eligible for a vaccine, you can find out where you can get vaccinated and book an appointment by visiting Book Your Vaccine.

Vaccine information

The vaccines currently approved for use in Australia are:

  • Pfizer (Comirnaty): this mRNA vaccine is recommended for people 12 years and older, including people over 60 years old.
  • Moderna (Spikevax): this mRNA vaccine is recommended for people 12 years and older, including people over 60 years old.
  • AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria): this viral vector vaccine is recommended for people 60 years and older. For more information about the AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) vaccine, see FAQs – AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) COVID-19 vaccine vaccine.

All vaccines approved for use in Australia protect against COVID-19, including severe illness and death from COVID-19.

Like all vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccines work by training our immune systems to respond to a disease.

The virus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) is studded with spike proteins that it uses to enter human cells. COVID-19 vaccines present our immune system with a part of the virus, the spike protein, so that it is familiar with the virus and able to mount a strong immune response if it encounters the virus in the future.

Will the vaccines protect me against new strains of COVID-19?

All viruses change (mutate). It is anticipated that the mRNA vaccines – including Pfizer (Comirnaty) and Moderna (Spikevax) – and AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) vaccine should be effective against the newer strains (mutations) of COVID-19.

This is because the vaccines work by inducing what is known as a "polyclonal" response – a collection of immunological response to many different parts of the COVID "spike" protein. In the new strains (mutations) most of the spike protein stays the same, and only a limited part of the spike protein is changed. So, the vaccines should still work against the main, unchanged parts to the COVID-19 spike protein. Researchers are still investigating this and the Therapeautic Goods Administration (TGA) is monitoring this as part of their vaccine approval and monitoring process.

If necessary, it is possible to slightly change the vaccine composition quickly to respond to the new variants. This is done every year for the influenza vaccine, to keep pace with natural evolution of the circulating influenza virus.

Yes. All COVID-19 vaccines for use must pass the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) rigorous approval processes. The TGA assesses any COVID-19 vaccine for safety, quality and effectiveness before it can be supplied in Australia. There is ongoing rigorous safety surveillance after approval by the TGA to ensure the vaccines remain safe.

COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people aged 12 years and over to protect against COVID-19.

The mRNA vaccines, including Pfizer (Comirnaty) and Moderna (Spikevax), are preferred in people aged under 60 years of age or in people over 12 years old who have had cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, heparin induced thrombocytopaenia, idiopathic splanchnic (mesenteric, portal and splenic) venous thrombosis, anti-phospholipid syndrome with thrombosis, capillary leak syndrome or a history of anaphylaxis to AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) vaccine or its components (including polysorbate 80).

This preferential recommendation is based on the risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) appearing to be higher in younger adults than in older adults and concerns that a history of conditions may increase the risk of TTS.

For more information, visit the TGA website

Learn more about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

While the development and testing of COVID-19 vaccines has been quicker than usual, safety remains the top priority. Hundreds of millions of people are suffering from the ongoing social and economic devastation caused by the pandemic. The urgency of this crisis means that globally all available resources and efforts have been directed towards finding a safe and effective vaccine, and this includes in Australia.

In the past, the process of developing and licensing a vaccine has taken many years, but this has been shortened to within 12 months of the virus being discovered.

Some of the reasons for this rapid progress include:

  • Unprecedented funding and collaboration between vaccine developers and governments around the world. Significant financial investments were made, including building manufacturing facilities during the process of clinical trials, thereby speeding up the distribution process.
  • Technology has evolved, making vaccine development faster than in the past. Vaccine development requires understanding a virus’s genetic code. New technology enabled researchers to rapidly understand the genetic code of the COVID-19 virus. This allowed scientists around the world to start developing vaccines.
  • Clinical trials progress more quickly if a disease is widespread. Because so many people around the world have been sick with COVID-19, it has been easier to enrol people in trials and study the vaccine.
  • Importantly, COVID-19 vaccines must pass through the exact same rigor and phases of clinical trials as other vaccines and do not miss any important safety and quality checks along the way. Approval is only given if the vaccine works and meets the appropriate safety requirements.

In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) ensures there is an independent quality assessment of every vaccine batch in Australia before vaccines can be distributed.

Further information on the development and testing process can be found at Australia’s vaccine agreements | Australian Government Department of Health . More information on the TGA batch assessment process can be found at Batch release assessment of COVID-19 vaccines | Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

Some people may experience minor side effects following vaccination like those after a flu vaccine. These include pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, fever, chills, headache and tiredness.

Most general symptoms are mild to moderate and resolve within 1–2 days.

A serious allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis is extremely rare. It generally happens within 15 minutes and prompt medical care is required. This is why you are monitored for 15 minutes following vaccination.

Serious side effects after vaccination are rare and if they occur, prompt medical treatment is recommended.

There is a link between the AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) vaccine and a syndrome called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). This is an extremely rare blood clotting syndrome where there are also low platelets.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has reviewed its advice on the use of AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) vaccine. From 17 June 2021, mRNA vaccines including Pfizer (Comirnaty) and Moderna (Spikevax) are preferred over AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) vaccine in adults aged under 60 years. This recommendation is based on:

  • the increasing risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 in older adults (and hence a higher benefit from vaccination), and
  • An increased risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia following AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) vaccine in those under 60 years.

One rare side effect of the mRNA vaccines, including Pfizer (Comirnaty) and Moderna (Spikevax) is myocarditis and pericarditis (heart inflammation). Most reported cases have been mild, self-limiting and recovered quickly, although longer-term follow-up of these cases is ongoing. Cases have been reported predominantly after the second dose and predominantly in younger males (aged < 30 years).

For more information, please refer to the Australian Government Department of Health: Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?

See the graphic for a list of expected side effects and serious (but rare) side effects or view Covid-19 vaccines possible side effects webpage.
Possible Side effects

All vaccines have side effects. Usually these are mild and temporary. Most side effects occur in the first few days after vaccination and go away without treatment in 1-2 days.

If you have symptoms that are persistent or concern you, you should see your doctor.

Symptoms of the rare blood clotting syndrome, thrombosis with thrombocytopaenia (TTS), that have been linked to AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) vaccine may include:

  • severe and persistent headaches that don’t go away with paracetamol
  • blurred vision (or other neurological symptoms)
  • chest pain
  • leg swelling
  • persistent abdominal (belly) pain
  • shortness of breath
  • tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the site of the injection.

Patient information sheet on AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) vaccine and thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS)

See your usual healthcare provider if:

  • You are concerned about new or unexpected symptoms
  • You have symptoms that are not going away, or getting worse, after a few days
  • Call 000 (Triple Zero) in the event of a medical emergency

Reporting Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI)

AEFIs should be reported to the Communicable Disease Prevention Unit, Department of Health. To report an adverse event over the phone or seek recommendation regarding referral of patients requiring specialist follow-up, please call the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 to speak to an Immunisation Clinical Nurse Consultant. Please note this is an AEFI surveillance system and individual medical advice cannot be provided.

To report an AEFI by email, please complete the Adverse Event Following Immunisation Reporting form and email to tas.aefi@health.tas.gov.au. AEFI reports may also be faxed to (03) 6173 0821.

Adverse Event Following Immunisation (AEFI) Reporting Form Word format

Adverse Event Following Immunisation (AEFI) Reporting Form PDF format

Referral form Recommendation to Receive the Pfizer Vaccine PDF format

No. The recommended minimum interval between COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines (including influenza vaccine) is 7 days. This may be shortened (including same day administration) in special circumstances.

Yes. You can still spread the virus even after you’ve been vaccinated although it is thought to be less likely.

Less than 48 hours after vaccination:

Mild side effects following vaccination are common and tend to occur 1-2 days after vaccination. If you experience fever, fatigue or headache within 48 hours of a COVID-19 vaccination, COVID-19 testing may not be required. If you experience respiratory symptoms, such as a sore throat, runny nose or cough, a COVID-19 test is recommended.

Beyond 48 hours after vaccination:

If you experience fever, fatigue or headache beyond 48 hours following vaccination or you experience any respiratory symptoms such as runny nose, sore throat or cough, a COVID-19 test is recommended.

Australians can access their immunisation history statement through Medicare for proof of vaccination, both digitally and in hard copy, if required.

You can access a record of your vaccination online via MyGov through your Medicare or My Health Record account.

For more information about accessing your immunisation history through myGov, visit Services Australia.

General

Generally, the COVID-19 vaccine will be voluntary, available to everyone and free.

There are some employment settings where the vaccine is now mandatory.

From 17 September, it will be mandatory for aged care workers to have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or provide evidence of a booking or exemption to their workplace.

From 31 October, all workers in health care settings will need to have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or provide evidence of a booking or exemption to their workplace by 31 October 2021.

For more information including details of any exemptions that may apply, visit Business and employees.

Yes. The Australian Government has advised that all adults living in Australia will be able to receive the vaccine for free. This includes people on temporary visas, refugees, asylum seekers, those in detention centres and those with cancelled visas. This also includes people without a Medicare card.

For more questions and answers, please see COVID-19 vaccines ⁠–⁠ Is it true? | Australian Government Department of Health.

For more information about Australia’s vaccine rollout program, visit the Australian Government Department of Health.

For more information about the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s vaccine approval process, visit TGA COVID vaccines

You can find information on COVID-19 vaccines in languages other than English on the Australian Government Department of Health’s website.

Other reputable information about vaccines is available from:

The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance has a comprehensive frequently asked questions list, that you can check out if you have other questions not answered here.