Getting vaccinated for COVID-19

Why should I get vaccinated?

We strongly encourage you to get vaccinated as COVID-19 can cause serious ongoing health conditions, and sometimes death. Getting vaccinated is the best way you can protect yourself and your loved ones against COVID-19.

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. Getting vaccinated is the best way you can protect yourself and your loved ones against COVID-19.

Are COVID-19 vaccines free?

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

Which COVID-19 vaccines are available in South Australia?

COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer and AstraZeneca are currently available in South Australia.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine can be used in people aged 16 and older. This vaccine requires two doses, 21 days apart. Detailed information can be found on the TGA website. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is preferred over the AstraZeneca vaccine for people aged 16 to 49 years.

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 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 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).

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is preferred over the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in adults aged under 50 years who have not already received a first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine.

Should I avoid being vaccinated if I feel unwell?

If you are unwell with symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough, or a runny nose, you should get tested for COVID-19 and isolate until you receive your results.

If you have received a negative COVID-19 test result and only have a mild fever, you can still be vaccinated. If you have a high fever, you should delay your vaccination until you are well.

If you've tested positive to COVID-19, or you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19, please remain in quarantine and do not attend your vaccine appointment.

It’s important to reschedule your appointment as soon as you are able to attend.

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?

Right now, South Australia is vaccinating people in all priority groups including:

  • Anyone 40 years and over
  • People 16 years and over living in a regional council area
  • Quarantine, medi-hotel, airport and maritime workers
  • People who are immediate family of, or living with, a quarantine or airport worker
  • All health care workers
  • Residential aged care and disability care residents and staff
  • NDIS participants aged 16 and over, and carers of NDIS participants of any age
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 16 and over
  • People with an eligible underlying medical condition
  • Critical and high risk workers including defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat processing.

You can find a clinic near you by using the Australian Government’s Vaccine Eligibility Checker or call the SA COVID-19 Information Line on 1800 253 787 9.00am to 5.00pm, 7 days a week.

Residential aged care workers and health care workers from Phase 1a who are aged 50 and over and have not yet been vaccinated are eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

These people can make a vaccination appointment by calling the SA COVID-19 Information Line on 1800 253 787, 9.00am to 5.00pm, 7 days a week.

Where are the SA Health COVID-19 vaccination clinics?

Dedicated COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics are being established across metro and regional South Australia.

More clinics are open across regional South Australia. Find out about how to book your vaccination appointment.

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

You could get your COVID-19 vaccine from a doctor, nurse, pharmacist or other health care worker.

The person vaccinating you will have completed COVID-19 vaccination training to ensure they can safely manage and administer COVID-19 vaccines.

The training has been made available for:

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

What do I need to do before I receive my COVID-19 vaccine?

Before you attend your appointment it's important to make sure that your details are fully up to date with Medicare. You can do this a couple of ways – either through your online account on MyGov, the Express Medicare Plus App or you can call Medicare on 132 011.

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

What should I bring to my COVID-19 vaccination appointment?

If you have a Medicare card, you will need to bring your card to your appointment. If you do not have a Medicare card, please bring some form of photo ID.

The vaccine will be administered by a doctor, nurse or other health care worker. Everyone providing the vaccine will have completed COVID-19 vaccination training.

The length of appointment will depend on your individual and health circumstances. If based on your personal circumstances, you know that you may need longer please account for that in your planning. Most people will need to allow at least 30 minutes for their appointment.

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.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) recommend the following interval between COVID-19 vaccine doses:

  • AstraZeneca vaccine – 12 weeks (4 weeks at a minimum)
  • Pfizer vaccine – 21 days

Delays to these intervals should be avoided, wherever possible. The Pfizer vaccine should not be administered earlier than 21 days.

Do I have to get my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the same place i got my first dose?

You should try to have your second dose at the same location to your first dose.

The most important thing is that you are getting the same type of vaccine, and that you receive your second dose the recommended length of time after your first dose.

We recommend bringing a hard copy of your vaccination record as proof that you’ve had your first dose administered.

Can I get a different vaccine for the second dose?

As per clinical guidance from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), the Pfizer and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines are not considered interchangeable.

The two-dose course should be completed with the same vaccine. There is no data yet on the efficacy of mixed schedules.

Dr Emily Kirkpatrick answers your questions about the second COVID-19 vaccine dose in the video below:

What do I do if I have missed my second dose?

Current advice is that to ensure maximum protection, the second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine should be given within 42 days. The vaccine can be given safely after 42 days, however, the long term immunity provided may be less.

If the time between doses exceeds the recommendations, the second dose should be administered as soon as possible.

If you are concerned about the timing of your COVID-19 vaccine, you should discuss this with your GP.

I have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine interstate or overseas, how do I make an appointment for my second dose?

If you received one dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine while interstate or overseas, you can book your second appointment using the online booking system.

If you received one dose but are not currently eligible in the South Australian vaccine roll out, you can book your appointment by calling the SA COVID-19 Information Line on 1800 253 787. You will be required to produce evidence of your first vaccination.

If you received a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine not approved for use in Australia, you should discuss this with your GP, as you may benefit from a further vaccination.

How long will the COVID-19 vaccine last once I have had two doses?

It is not yet known how long the protection of the COVID-19 vaccine will last, but ongoing research is being conducted to monitor people’s protection over time. This research will also determine whether booster doses may be required.

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 7 days either side of the flu vaccine. This can be shortened (including same day administration) in special circumstances.

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.

When can I return to work after getting the vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory in Australia, so you should be able to work before and after being vaccinated.

You may experience some mild side effects after having the vaccine, which is a sign that your immune system is kicking into gear and learning how to fight COVID-19. These side effects may make you feel unwell for a couple of days.

If you’re worried about being too unwell to return to work, consider booking your appointment at the end of your shift if you’re getting it at work or ahead of the weekend or a day off.

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.

You may also experience some side effects after your vaccination. Use the COVID-19 vaccine side effects symptom checker if you have concerns about any symptoms after your vaccine.

The COVID-19 vaccine side effects symptom checker is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a medical professional for serious symptoms or emergencies.

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.

Seek medical attention immediately if you 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.

Reporting your side effects is an essential part of ensuring ongoing vaccine safety monitoring. If you experience side effects from the vaccine, you can let your vaccine provider know and they can report them on your behalf.

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 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.

People without a Medicare card can request an Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI) from the Australian Government to get an immunisation summary through My Health Record that will provide proof of vaccination.

Should I still get tested for COVID-19 if I feel unwell after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?

The vaccines are designed to prevent serious illness and death. You cannot catch COVID-19 from the COVID-19 vaccine, but you can still catch COVID-19 after being vaccinated.

For the next day or two following your vaccination, you may feel a little bit feverish, tired, or achy as a side effect of the vaccine. If that happens, you do not need to get a COVID-19 test. If you have symptoms like that, and you also have COVID-19 symptoms such as runny nose, or a sore throat, or a cough, or difficulty breathing, you should get tested for COVID-19 immediately.

These vaccines are going to help to keep us all safe, but it's very important that we continue to follow the advice and any restrictions in place as we vaccinate our community.