Getting vaccinated for COVID-19

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 should I get vaccinated?

We strongly encourage you to get vaccinated as COVID-19 can cause serious ongoing health conditions, and sometimes death. Vaccination is a safe and effective way of protecting you and your family.

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.

Once you are vaccinated, you may still be able to catch or spread the virus, therefore everyone needs to get vaccinated and you cannot rely on others getting vaccinated to protect yourself.

Do I have to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Getting vaccinated is not mandatory. However, we strongly encourage you to get vaccinated as COVID-19 can cause serious ongoing health conditions, and sometimes death. Vaccination is a safe and effective way of protecting you and your family.

When will the COVID-19 vaccine be available?

COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out in South Australia now, commencing with Phase 1a.

We want to vaccinate South Australians against COVID-19 as quickly as possible. You can help by getting vaccinated when it’s your turn.

Are COVID-19 vaccines free?

The first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccines will be free for all people living in Australia.

Is receiving a COVID-19 vaccine voluntary?

Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is completely voluntary, however, it is strongly encouraged.

Which COVID-19 vaccines are available in South Australia?

The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be used initially during the Phase 1a rollout. This vaccine has met the rigorous safety standards of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). This vaccine requires two doses, 21 days apart. Detailed information can be found on the TGA website.

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has also met the rigorous safety standards of the TGA. This vaccine requires two doses, with the second dose recommended to be administered 12 weeks after the first. Detailed information can be found on the TGA website.

The Australian Government has secured doses of other COVID-19 vaccines, including those produced Novavax, which are still subject to TGA approvals and The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) advice. More information can be found on the Department of Health website.

Do I get to choose what type of vaccine I get?

You will receive the vaccine available at the time and location of your appointment. The vaccine you receive may also be determined by your health, age or occupation (if your occupation puts you at a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19).

How will I know when it’s my turn to get vaccinated?

Information will be provided to priority groups and the wider South Australian community when the vaccine becomes available to each group. This information may come from the Commonwealth or from SA Health.

Where can I get the COVID-19 vaccine in South Australia?

There will be both metropolitan and regional hubs set up across South Australia to ensure priority groups can access the vaccine at the allocated time. Further information regarding locations of these sites and any additional sites will be provided as soon as possible.

Who will be administering my vaccine? Have they had training?

Depending on which phase of the roll out you’re in, you could get your COVID-19 vaccine from a doctor, nurse, pharmacist or other health care worker.

The person vaccinating you will be required to complete COVID-19 vaccination training. This will ensure they can safely manage and administer COVID-19 vaccines.

The training is available now for all authorised COVID-19 vaccination providers.

This will include:

  • health professionals in hospitals
  • general practices
  • state and Commonwealth vaccination clinics
  • Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations
  • pharmacies.

What is the timing between the two vaccinations?

When you get your first dose of the vaccine, you will be asked to make your appointment to get your second dose. Depending on the vaccine you are given, the second dose will be administered either 21 days or 12 weeks after your first dose.

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine at the same time?

The recommended minimum interval between a dose of seasonal flu vaccine and a dose of either of the currently approved COVID-19 vaccines is 14 days either side of the flu vaccine. Speak to your GP for more information.

Can I bring someone to my vaccination appointment with me?

You can have someone attend your vaccination appointment for support. This can be a support worker, family member, carer or friend.

If consent is given in advance, can it be withdrawn on the day of the vaccine?

Yes, receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is completely voluntary and consent can be withdrawn at any time prior to receiving the first or second dose of the vaccine.

I’ve heard one of the vaccines is stored at -70°c. Is it that cold when it’s injected?

The Pfizer vaccine is stored at -70 degrees and defrosted prior to usage.

What if I feel unwell after my vaccine?

The Australian Immunisation Handbook, developed by The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), provides clinical guidelines for healthcare professionals and others about using vaccines safely and effectively.

The Handbook recommends that:

  • all vaccine recipients be observed for at least 15 minutes after they have been vaccinated, to ensure that they do not experience an immediate adverse event, and to provide rapid medical care if needed.
  • people with a history of anaphylaxis to non-vaccine antigens (e.g. food, insect stings, medicines) should be observed for 30 minutes following administration of a COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Will I be contacted after my appointment?

Vaccine recipients may be followed up with an automated text message three days and then eight days after get 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.

Will I get a record of my vaccination?

If you receive your COVID-19 vaccination in South Australia, you will be given an official hard copy record of your vaccination. Your vaccination information will be recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register.

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