Get the facts about the vaccine
The Australian Government is providing COVID-19 vaccines to everyone living in Australia. Here’s what you need to know about booking a COVID-19 vaccine and how vaccines are tested and approved.
About the vaccines
Three vaccines are currently available for use in Australia:
- Pfizer (Comirnaty) is the preferred vaccine for people aged 12 years and older. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has detailed information on the Pfizer vaccine.
- AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) can be used in adults aged 60 years and over or for those 18 - 59 years where the Pfizer vaccine is not available, and the benefits clearly outweigh the risk for that individual. You should speak to your GP (doctor) to understand the risks and benefits. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has issued detailed information on the AstraZeneca vaccine.
- Moderna (Spikevax) was approved by the TGA on 3 September 2021 for individuals 12 years and older and will be manufactured in Australia. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has issued detailed information on the Moderna vaccine.
You will receive a vaccine that is recommended for your age and other eligibility and clinical criteria.
You need the same vaccine given to you at two appointments to complete the vaccination. Two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will provide around 90% protection from hospitalisation and death from COVID-19.
- When you receive your first dose, make sure you have an appointment booked for the second dose.
- Pfizer (Comirnaty) COVID-19 vaccine doses are recommended to be given at least 3 to 8 weeks apart.
- Everyone in NSW can now receive their second AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) COVID-19 vaccine dose 4 to 8 weeks after the first dose.
- If you have had your first dose of AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) more than 4 weeks ago, contact your GP to discuss bringing forward your appointment.
- Moderna (Spikevax) is usually given 4 to 6 weeks apart.
Find out more about vaccine doses.
Advice on COVID-19 vaccines from the Australian Government
The type of COVID-19 vaccine you will be offered will mainly depend on your
- risk of exposure and serious illness from COVID-19
- whether you have any contraindications to a COVID-19 vaccine.
Contraindications are conditions which mean a person should not receive a particular medication because it may be harmful.
Medical conditions and vaccines
Ask your GP or specialist to discuss your medical history and individual circumstances if you are concerned about vaccination and the effect on existing conditions.
For the small number of people who have a contraindication to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) is recommended. The Australian Government Department of Health has information on medical conditions that fall into this category.
Questions about the COVID-19 vaccines
If you have a question or need information about COVID-19 or the COVID-19 vaccines:
- speak to your GP (doctor) to help you make an informed decision
- complete the online form
- call the helpline on 1800 020 080 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
- Read frequently asked questions (FAQs) about COVID-19 vaccines.
Approved COVID-19 vaccines
Any COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Australia are safe and effective. Before vaccines are made available, they must be approved for use in Australia. There are strict requirements for testing and approving vaccines. This includes the TGA’s thorough assessment and approval processes for safety, quality and effectiveness.
Before a vaccine is approved, it is tested. Testing begins with laboratory research, then animal studies and finally human clinical trials.
Clinical trials must provide scientific evidence which demonstrates that the benefits of a vaccine greatly outweigh any risks.
Ongoing monitoring of vaccines
The TGA will continue to play an active role in the ongoing monitoring of any vaccines available in Australia, and has robust procedures in place to rapidly detect, investigate and respond to any emerging safety issues identified for COVID-19 vaccines.
To best protect the community and reduce the spread of the virus, some groups of people can get priority vaccination appointments. The groups are based on:
- potential exposure to COVID-19 cases
- age and medical conditions
- vulnerability or regular contact with vulnerable people.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 12 and over are eligible to get a priority vaccine through the Vaccine Clinic Finder.
Vaccine use for vulnerable people
The Australian Government Department of Health has published a guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning pregnancy.
Everyone aged 12 year and older can now book a vaccination through the Vaccine Clinic Finder.
Health services will make every effort to help you to receive your COVID-19 vaccination. It’s important to be respectful and work with your GP to find out which vaccine is right for you.
COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone in Australia regardless of Medicare or visa status.
To book an appointment, use the Vaccine Clinic Finder.
Advice for recovering COVID-19 cases
Having had COVID-19 doesn’t mean you can’t have a COVID-19 vaccine. If you have fully recovered and have not already been vaccinated, you can now receive your COVID-19 vaccination.
There is no need to delay vaccination if you have fully recovered.
If the vaccination is deferred, medical practitioners can authorise a temporary exemption from vaccination by completing a NSW COVID-19 vaccine medical contraindication form.