When can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

 

The government’s response to the pandemic and vaccine rollout has always been flexible, and now the vaccine rollout has been modified to allow for the different vaccines recommended for different age groups – see below: What coronavirus vaccines are available to me in Australia?

 

We are now in phase 2a, and anyone over the age of 50 is eligible for a vaccine. As of 3 May 2021, adults aged 50 and over can receive the AstraZeneca vaccine at General Practice Respiratory Clinics and state and territory vaccination clinics.

 

From 17 May 2021, people 50 years and over can receive the AstraZeneca vaccine at a participating general practice.

 

Phase 1a commenced on 22 Feb 2021. This phase covers international arrivals, quarantine and border workers, frontline healthcare workers, aged care and disability care workers and those people living in aged care or disability care.

 

Phase 1b commenced on 22 March 2021. This phase covers: 

  • Elderly adults aged 70 years or older
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 55 years or older
  • Healthcare workers who are currently employed and not included in phase 1a 
  • Critical and high risk workers currently employed (including defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat processing)*
  • People aged 16 or older with an underlying medical condition, including disability**

 

* Workers will need to provide proof of occupation to demonstrate their eligibility.

 

** People will need to provide proof of these conditions to demonstrate their eligibility for vaccination via My health record, a health professional referral if required or a declaration form.

 

When can the rest of the population expect to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

 

The Australian Health Department created a five-tier priority list for rolling out the vaccine.  Australia’s COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Strategy, developed with the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and approved by National Cabinet, prioritises those Australians most at risk of COVID-19, including Australia’s front line health workers, quarantine workers and aged care residents and staff. The vaccine rollout has been modified to allow for the different vaccines recommended for different age groups

 

So far over 2.3 million COVID-19 vaccination doses have been given in Australia. The Commonwealth, states and territories are progressively scaling up vaccination sites as increased supplies of vaccines become available.

 

The aim of the Australian Government is to have as many people vaccinated as possible before the end of 2021.

 

AstraZeneca doses are being reallocated in a recalibrated vaccine rollout plan.

 

We are now in phase 2a, so anyone over the age of 50 is eligible for a vaccine. As of 3 May 2021, adults aged 50 and over can receive the AstraZeneca vaccine at General Practice Respiratory Clinics (GPRCs) and state and territory vaccination clinics.

 

From 17 May 2021, people 50 years and over can receive the AstraZeneca vaccine at a participating general practice.



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By completing the eligibility checker, you can see which phase of the rollout you’ll be part of, and if you’re not already eligible to receive the vaccine, we’ll notify you once you are.

 

What coronavirus vaccines are available to me in Australia?

 

The Australian Health Department is currently using the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the AstraZeneca (University of Oxford) vaccine. Both vaccines have received approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and both have been used extensively around the world. 

 

Both vaccines need two doses. The doses of the Pfizer vaccine are given 21 days apart, and the doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are usually given 12 weeks apart.

 

As of 8 April 2021, ATAGI recommends that the COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer is preferred over the AstraZeneca vaccine in adults aged under 50 years. This recommendation is based on a potentially increased risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopaenia syndrome (TTS) following AstraZeneca vaccine among those aged under 50 years. This condition is very rare, and ATAGI estimates that the overall rate of TTS is about 6 cases per million people vaccinated, but the rate is currently estimated to be higher (20-40 cases per million) in those under 50 years of age. 

 

The AstraZeneca vaccine can still be used in adults aged under 50 years where the benefits are likely to outweigh the risks for that individual, or when the individual has had one dose without any problems. Informed consent is required.

 

The majority of deaths and severe illness associated with COVID-19 around the world involve older people. The AstraZeneca vaccine is highly effective at preventing severe illness and death due to COVID-19 and the benefits to people aged 50 years and above greatly outweigh any risk of TTS.

 

Is the vaccine free?

 

The COVID-19 vaccine is available free to those who wish to be vaccinated.

 

Do I have to be vaccinated?

 

No, there are no mandatory vaccines in Australia. While the Australian Government supports and encourages immunisation, it is not mandatory and people maintain the option to choose not to vaccinate.

 

How can I get the vaccine?

 

Vaccines are being delivered through vaccination clinics run by states and territories, plus at GP clinics, GPRCs and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS). In addition, a Commonwealth led in-reach workforce is responsible for making vaccines available to residential aged care and disability care residents and staff.

 

You can make an appointment through the Commonwealth Booking Platform or the provider’s own booking system, and then attend the clinic to be vaccinated. ADF personnel are vaccinated by Defence.

 

Are the vaccines safe?

 

All vaccines must pass different stages of research trials to prove they are safe and effective. Before vaccines are approved for use in Australia, they must pass the rigorous assessment and approval processes of the TGA. This includes assessment of their safety, quality and effectiveness.

 

As of 8 April 2021, ATAGI now recommends that the COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer is preferred over the AstraZeneca vaccine in adults aged under 50 years. This recommendation is based on a potentially increased risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopaenia syndrome (TTS) following AstraZeneca vaccine among those aged under 50 years. This condition is very rare, and ATAGI estimates that the overall rate of TTS is about 6 cases per million people vaccinated, but the rate is currently estimated to be higher (20-40 cases per million) in those under 50 years of age. 

 

If I’m under 50 and already received my first AstraZeneca dose, should I still get the second dose?

People who have had the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine without any serious adverse effects can be given the second dose, including adults under 50 years. 

 

How to stay COVID-safe.

 

At this time – whether you are in a priority group or not – the best thing you can do is continue to be COVID-Safe and stay up to date with the latest information and advice. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has cautioned that everyone will need to practise COVID-safe behaviour for a long time, probably throughout 2021 and beyond.

It is suggested that everyone still:

  • Continue to practise good hygiene
  • Maintain physical distance
  • Stay home if you are sick and get tested if you experience symptoms
  • Download the COVIDSafe app and your state’s QR code COVID safe check-in app.

 

Services Australia has also recommended that all Australians check that their contact details for Medicare are correct and that they have Medicare linked to their myGov account (if you don’t already have one, a myGov account is easy to create). You will then be able to view your immunisation history statement.