Get the facts about the vaccine

Last updated: 14 January 2022

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.

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Everyone aged 5 years and older in NSW is strongly encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Find out who can get a vaccine now.

Vaccine clinics are located across NSW. Use the Vaccine Clinic Finder to book your vaccination appointment.

What it is to be fully vaccinated

You are fully vaccinated if you have had

  • 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccination where two doses are the complete course, or 
  • 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccination where a single dose is the complete course, or  
  • a medical exemption

Children under 16 years of age who are not fully vaccinated can generally follow the rules for fully vaccinated people so long as they visit certain businesses with a fully vaccinated member of your household.  
You are not fully vaccinated if you have had: 

  • only 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccination that requires 2 doses to complete the course, or 
  • no doses of a COVID-19 vaccination.

Check what you need as vaccination evidence.

About the vaccines

Three vaccines are currently available for use in Australia:

  • Pfizer (Comirnaty) and Moderna (Spikevax) are the preferred vaccines for people aged 12 years and older. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has detailed information on the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna 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.
  • Pfizer Paediatric vaccine is the approved vaccine for children aged 5 – 11 years. The dose of this vaccine is around 1/3 of the 12+ dose. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has detailed information on the Pfizer paediatric 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 receive their second AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) COVID-19 vaccine dose 4 to 8 weeks after the first dose.
  • 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

  • age
  • 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.

Advice about contraindications is provided by ATAGI and the TGA.

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:

Read frequently asked questions (FAQs) about COVID-19 vaccines.

Approved COVID-19 vaccines

The 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.

Learn more about vaccines available in Australia.

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.

Priority groups

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 5 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.

Learn more about who can be vaccinated

Who can get a vaccine now

Everyone aged 5 years 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

If you have fully recovered from COVID-19 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.

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