Who should get the COVID-19 vaccine


Following a review of the use of the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommends that the COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer is preferred over the COVID-19 vaccine by AstraZeneca in adults aged under 50 years. Find out more.

Why does everyone need to get vaccinated?

The COVID-19 vaccinations reduce the community’s risk of COVID-19 outbreaks and will help to reduce symptoms and side-effects of COVID-19 if you are exposed.

There’s growing evidence that vaccinated people are less infectious if they do catch COVID-19, which means getting vaccinated is the best way you can protect yourself and your loved ones.

Who will get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is being rolled out in phases across South Australia to ensure priority groups can access the vaccine.

The phases are as follows:

Phase 1a

  • Frontline at-risk health care workers including staff in GP respiratory clinics and COVID-19 testing facilities, ambulance staff, paramedics, ICU and emergency department staff and clinical and ancillary support staff
  • Residential aged care and disability care staff
  • Residential aged care and disability care residents
  • Quarantine and airport workers

Phase 1b

  • Adults over 70 years
  • All other health care workers
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults over 55 years
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults living in eligible remote areas
  • Adults with an underlying medical condition
  • Critical and high risk workers including defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat processing
  • Certain eligible people with a disability and carers

Phase 2a

  • Adults over 50 years
  • All other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults
  • Other critical and high risk workers.

Phase 2b

  • Balance of adult population
  • Catch up any unvaccinated Australians from previous phases.

Phase 3

  • Consideration of people under 16 years, based on further Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approvals and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) advice.

I’m fit and healthy – do I still need to get vaccinated?

COVID-19 can cause very serious disease, long term health issues, and sometimes death.

COVID-19 can be a serious illness for anyone who gets it, including people who are young, fit and otherwise healthy.

There’s growing evidence that vaccinated people are less infectious if they do catch COVID-19, which means getting vaccinated is the best way you can protect yourself and your loved ones.

I don’t have a Medicare card, can I still get a COVID-19 vaccine?

People who are not eligible for Medicare can still get the COVID-19 vaccine for free.

Those eligible in Phase 1a and Phase 1b can currently get the free vaccine at GP-led Respiratory Clinics, with no requirement for a Medicare card.

More options may be available in later stages of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

I work in a high risk area (priority 1a) but don’t want to get the vaccine, will this affect my job?

It’s important that people working in high risk areas are given access to the vaccine as early as possible, which is why you’ve been included in Phase 1a of the national roll out.

Your occupational risk of exposure to COVID-19 should be considered when discussing your role and responsibility with your employer. Individual employers may consider company policies regarding the COVID-19 vaccine that consider occupational health and safety risks.

The vaccine is not mandated by the Australian or State Governments.

Is the vaccine safe for older people?

Both COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Australia are suitable for vaccinating older people.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has stated that older adults should be prioritised for COVID-19 vaccination.

ATAGI has stated that the risk of ongoing health issues and death from COVID-19 is highest in older age groups, particularly rising from 50 years of age.

In rare instances, additional evaluation may be indicated of the appropriateness of vaccination in very frail individuals with severe pre-existing conditions or at the end of life.

Patients and/or their families, representatives and carers can talk to their GP or a health professional about the COVID-19 vaccines.

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I am planning a pregnancy, currently pregnant or breastfeeding?

Clinical trials for new medicines do not typically include pregnant or breastfeeding participants.

If you are planning a pregnancy, you can receive the COVID-19 vaccine. You do not need to avoid becoming pregnant before or after vaccination. You are not required to have a pregnancy test before getting vaccinated.

If you are breastfeeding, you can receive the COVID-19 vaccine at any time. You do not need to stop breastfeeding before or after vaccination.

Currently in Australia we are not routinely recommending COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women. You and your health professional should consider whether the potential benefits of vaccination outweigh any potential risks.

Further international data regarding this issue is expected to be available soon.

For more information, read the Australian Government’s COVID-19 vaccination decision guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning pregnancy.

Do COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility?

There is no evidence suggesting that fertility problems are a side effect of ANY vaccine, including the COVID-19 vaccines.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration will not approve a vaccine for use in Australia unless it is safe and effective. This includes impacts on fertility. There is no evidence that antibodies formed from COVID-19 vaccination cause any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta.

People who are trying to become pregnant now or who plan to try in the future may receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them.

For more information, read the Australian Government’s COVID-19 vaccination decision guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning pregnancy.

Will the vaccine be harmful to unborn children?

It is not expected that the vaccine can cause any serious problems in pregnant women or their babies.

Other vaccines given during pregnancy, such as the influenza vaccine or whooping cough vaccine, do not cause more side effects in pregnant women or their babies. They do protect newborn babies from these diseases.

The COVID-19 vaccines have not yet been studied in pregnant women, though real-world data is starting to become available for babies who have been born after their mothers had the COVID-19 vaccine.

Multiple babies have now been born with COVID-19 antibodies because their mothers were vaccinated.

For more information, read the Australian Government’s COVID-19 vaccination decision guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning pregnancy.

I am immunocompromised. Should I have the vaccine?

Immunocompromised people are being prioritised to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 1b of the roll out, as they are at increased risk of severe outcomes with COVID-19.

None of the COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved, or are currently being considered for approval, in Australia contain the live COVID-19 virus, which means they are safe for immunocompromised people.

Immunocompromised people should follow the advice from their doctor regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, including considering when to get the vaccine amongst any other treatments or medications.

Will other family members of immune-compromised children be included in a priority group?

In the first phase of the roll out, only those people who have been listed in the priority groups will receive the vaccine. The vaccine will be available to other people in later stages of the roll out.

Is it safe to receive the COVID-19 vaccine if I'm undergoing cancer treatment?

Evryone currently receiving chemotherapy, immunotherapy, CAR-T-cell therapies, hormonal therapies or stem cell transplants can still receive the vaccine. However, it's a good idea to talk to your treating doctor about timing your vaccine with your other treatments.

People with active cancer or who are undergoing cancer treatment are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 infection and death when compared with the general population. People with active blood cancers are at especially high risk. This is why people with these cancers have been included in the priority groups in Phase 1b.

People who have haematological cancers diagnosed within the last 5 years (e.g. leukaemia, lymphoma or myelodysplastic syndrome) and people that have non-haematological cancer diagnosed in the last 12 months are eligible to be vaccinated in Phase 1b of the rollout.

Read more information on getting vaccinated against COVID-19 while you have cancer.

I have an underlying medical condition, when will I be vaccinated?

People with underlying medical conditions will be eligible to receive the vaccination in Phase 1b of the rollout.

For more information about whether your specific medical condition is included in this list, use the Australian Government’s Vaccine Eligibility Checker, call the National COVID-19 Vaccine Information Line on 1800 020 080 or read the South Australian rollout plan.

What is an eligible underlying medical condition?

Eligible underlying medical conditions include:

  • Cancers and haematological diseases, currently or in the past.
  • Transplant recipients
  • Chronic inflammatory conditions
  • Immunodeficiency conditions
  • Chronic kidney, liver, lung or neurological conditions or diabetes
  • Severe obesity
  • Heart disease and blood pressure disorders
  • Severe mental health conditions.

For more information about whether your specific medical condition is included in this list, use the Australian Government’s Vaccine Eligibility Checker, call the National COVID-19 Vaccine Information Line on 1800 020 080 or read the South Australian rollout plan.

How can I provide evidence that I have an eligible underlying medical condition?

Examples of evidence can include:

  • Your regular GP clinic’s records
  • A My Health Record
  • A referral from a treating GP or specialist
  • Other medical records including medical history printouts, a chronic disease care plan, a hospital discharge summary or a valid script for medication prescribed for one of the relevant conditions
  • An Eligibility Declaration Form (PDF 237KB).

Where no appropriate evidence is available, you can fill out the Eligibility Declaration Form (PDF 237KB).

More information is available in the South Australian rollout plan.

Should I avoid getting the COVID-19 vaccine if I have dermal fillers?

It is still safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine if you have dermal fillers.

Infrequently, people who have received dermal fillers might experience swelling at or near the site of filler injection (usually on the face or lips) after being vaccinated.

Evidence suggests these reactions can be triggered by viral and bacterial illness, vaccinations such as the influenza or COVID-19 vaccine, and dental procedures.

The swelling appears to be temporary, may resolve without treatment, and responds well to medical treatment if necessary.

Please contact your healthcare provider if you experience swelling at or near a dermal filler site following your vaccination.

Can children get the vaccine?

Clinical trials for new medicines do not typically include children as participants. Further clinical trials for other COVID-19 vaccines will include children.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) will continue to provide advice in relation to children.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) have currently approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for use in individuals aged 16 years and over, and the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for use in individuals aged 50 years and over.

I’ve already had COVID-19. Do I need to get vaccinated?

You should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection, due to the severe health risks and as reinfection with COVID-19 is possible. Experts do not yet know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The natural immunity developed by people who have had COVID-19 varies.

As long as you are feeling well, and no longer have confirmed infection it is recommended to still receive COVID-19 vaccines.

There is no known disadvantage to having the COVID-19 vaccine when previously exposed or infected with COVID-19.