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.

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
  • Begin to vaccinate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Adults with an underlying medical condition, including those with a disability
  • Critical and high risk workers including defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat processing

Phase 2a

  • Adults over 50 years
  • Continue vaccinating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • 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 don’t have a Medicare card, can I still get a COVID-19 vaccine?

It’s really important that as many people get vaccinated as possible. The COVID-19 vaccinations will be free to everyone living in Australia, including refugees, asylum seekers, temporary protection visa holders, and those on bridging visas. People currently residing in detention facilities will also be eligible, including those whose visas have been cancelled.

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?

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has stated that older adults should be prioritised for COVID-19 vaccination, and that both vaccines approved for use in Australia are suitable for vaccinating people within all phases of Australia's COVID-19 vaccination program.

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 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.

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.

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/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in individuals aged 16 years and over, and the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for use in individuals aged 18 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.