Vaccine safety

Before a vaccine or any medication can be used in Australia it must be licensed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The TGA extensively assess each vaccine for safety and effectiveness. This assessment is based on scientific evidence. The TGA continues to monitor the safety of vaccines once they are registered.

Vaccines are generally very safe but like any medication or natural therapy they can have some side effects. These are usually short lasting and do not require special treatment.

It is important for you to wait for 15 minutes after receiving a vaccine so you may be observed for any reactions, and treatment can be provided if needed. Also, you should not drive for 30 minutes after receiving a vaccine.

Common reactions

Depending on the vaccine given, common reactions such as low grade fever and pain at the injection site, are mild, are usually short lasting, and do not require special treatment or reporting. Paracetamol may be given as per instructions on the bottle/packet, to ease injection site discomfort; a cool cloth placed onto the injection site may also help.

If the reaction does not fit the common reactions for that vaccine, or is getting worse and you are concerned, seek further advice from your GP or immunisation provider as soon as possible or go directly to a hospital.

Rare reactions

As with any medication, very rarely an individual may experience a severe allergic reaction.  Your immunisation provider should be trained to recognise and manage any immediate severe reactions. If a severe allergic reaction is going to occur, it will generally be within the first 15 minutes of receiving a vaccine.

How to report a reaction

All serious or unexpected reactions should be reported. All reports received by SA Health are assessed, and the Immunisation Section can provide information and advice on future vaccinations and discuss any concerns you may have.

See Vaccine reaction reporting: Adverse event following immunisation for more information

Unexpected or unusual reactions in children may be referred to the Specialist Immunisation Service.

Further vaccine safety information