Before and after your vaccination
COVID-19 vaccinations help to reduce the community’s risk of serious illness from COVID-19.
Here’s what you can expect before, during and after your vaccination.
Available COVID-19 vaccines
All people aged 5 and over are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine
Children aged 5 to 11 can get the paediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which is one third of the dose given to people aged 12 or older. Two doses are given 8 weeks apart.
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available to all people 12 years and over. In this age group, two doses are given 8 weeks apart.
For those aged 16 or older, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is recommended as a third dose following a primary course.
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for a fourth (winter) dose for eligible groups (see below).
See more information about the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine
Children aged 6 to 11 can get a half dose Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Two doses are given 8 weeks apart.
The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is available to all people aged 12 years and over. In this age group, two full doses are given 8 weeks apart.
For those aged 18 years or older, a half dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is recommended as a third dose following a primary course.
The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for a fourth (winter) dose for eligible groups (see below).
See more information about the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine
The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is available to all people 18 and over. Ttwo doses are given 3 weeks apart.
The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine can be used as a third (booster) dose in people aged 18 years or older for whom other vaccine types are contraindicated for medical reasons, or if they decline to have one of the COVID-19 vaccines recommended for use as a third dose.
See more information about the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine.
AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine
The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is available to all people aged 18 and over.
The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine requires two doses, given 12 weeks apart.
The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine can be used as a booster dose in people aged 18 years or older for whom other vaccine types are contraindicated for medical reasons, or if they decline to have one of the COVID-19 vaccines recommended for use as a booster dose.
If you’re considering AstraZeneca, please read COVID-19 vaccination – Weighing up the potential benefits against risk of harm from COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca.
See more information about the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
You will need to complete a consent form (PDF 192KB) before your vaccination at SA Health vaccination clinics. If you are not able to complete this before you attend a clinic, a consent form will be available on the day. Consent can be withdrawn at any time prior to receiving a dose of vaccine.
Preparing for your vaccination
You will need to bring your Medicare card. If you do not have a Medicare card, bring photo ID.
You may be asked to wear a mask. If you do not have a mask, you will be provided with one.
You can have someone attend with you for support, including a support worker, family member, carer or friend.
The vaccine will be administered by a doctor, nurse, pharmacist or other health care worker.
Most people will need to allow 30 minutes for their vaccination, but this will depend on your individual personal and health circumstances.
Attending a clinic
Please wear loose clothing that enables easy access to your upper arm where you will receive the vaccination.
If you are being vaccinated at a GP clinic, respiratory clinic, or alternative vaccination site, they will provide you with further information prior to your appointment.
When you enter an SA Health COVID-19 vaccination clinic, you will be given a consent form (PDF 128KB) if you have not completed one electronically.
When a vaccinator is available, you will be asked to go to a vaccination bay or room where the person vaccinating you will:
- review your consent form
- confirm your identity
- ask about your recent vaccination history
- seek your informed consent for the delivery of the vaccine and check your signature on your consent form
- administer your vaccine.
After you have been vaccinated, the vaccinator will keep your consent form and provide you with a vaccine record.
Observation after your vaccination
Everyone who is vaccinated will be observed for at least 15 minutes after they have been vaccinated, to ensure they do not experience any immediate reactions and to provide medical care if needed.
People with a history of allergic reactions (including food allergies, reactions to insect stings, medicine allergies, etc.) will be observed for 30 minutes following administration of a vaccine.
You may experience some side effects following vaccination. Most side effects last no more than a couple of days and you will recover without any problems.
Common reactions to vaccination include pain, redness and/or swelling where you received the needle, mild fever, headache and flu-like symptoms. Some people may also experience nausea, pain in the limb, enlarged lymph nodes, difficulty sleeping or generally feeling unwell.
Serious reactions such as allergic reactions are extremely rare.
See your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible or go directly to a hospital if:
- you have a reaction that you consider severe or unexpected
- you are concerned about your condition after vaccination.
People should seek medical attention immediately if they experience any of the following symptoms:
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- swelling in your leg
- persistent abdominal (belly) pain
- neurological symptoms, including severe and persistent headaches or blurred vision
- tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the site of injection.
Use the COVID-19 vaccine side effects symptom checker if you have concerns about any symptoms after your vaccine.
Alternatively, you can call the National COVID-19 Vaccine Helpline on 1800 020 080.
There are rare side effects linked to the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, including myocarditis and pericarditis. For more information, see the Guidance on Myocarditis and Pericarditis after mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.
Adverse events following immunisation can be reported here.
Following up on your side effects
You may be followed up with an automated text message three days and then eight days after getting the vaccine.
You will be asked if you have had any side effects, and the information will contribute to AusVaxSafety’s national COVID-19 vaccine safety surveillance.
AusVaxSafety is a world-leading national vaccine safety system, led by the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance.
You can use the COVID-19 vaccine side effects symptom checker if you have concerns about any symptoms after having either of the COVID-19 vaccines.
Alternatively, you can call the National COVID-19 Vaccine Helpline on 1800 020 080.
Adverse events following immunisation can be reported online.
You will be given an official hard copy record of your vaccination.
Your vaccination information will also be recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register.
You can also access your immunisation history statement through Medicare for proof of vaccination, both digitally and in hard copy, if required.
Third (booster) dose
COVID-19 vaccine booster doses are recommended to maintain immunity against the virus.
All people aged 16 and over who have had their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at least three months ago are eligible for a COVID-19 booster dose.
People aged 12 to 15 are also recommended to receive a COVID-19 booster vaccination if they have severe immunocompromise, a disability with significant or complex health needs, or complex and/or multiple health conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19.
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available as a booster dose for eligible people aged 12 and older. The Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are available as a booster dose for all people aged 18 and older.
The Novavax and Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccines can be used as a third (booster) dose in people aged 18 years or older for whom other vaccine types are contraindicated for medical reasons, or if they decline to have one of the COVID-19 vaccines recommended for use as a third dose.
Fourth (winter) dose
In addition to the booster dose, a fourth (winter) dose of COVID-19 vaccine is available to increase vaccine protection. It is recommended for the following groups after they have completed their primary course and received a third (booster) dose:
- Adults aged 50 years and older
- Residents of aged care or disability care facilities
- People aged 16 years and older with severe immunocompromise
- People aged 16 years and older with a medical condition that increases the risk of severe COVID-19
- People aged 16 years and older with disability with significant or complex health needs or multiple comorbidities which increase risk of poor outcome from COVID-19
Adults aged 30 to 49 years may also choose to receive a winter booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
The winter dose can be given from three months after the booster dose, or from three months after a confirmed COVID-19 infection, if infection occurred after the third dose.
- COVID-19 vaccines: common questions
- Preparing for COVID-19 vaccination
statement on recommendations on a winter booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine
- ATAGI recommendations on the use of a third primary dose of COVID-19 vaccine in individuals who are severely immunocompromised
- ATAGI updated recommendations for a winter dose of COVID-19 vaccine