COVID-19 Vaccination FAQs

Friday 26 Feb 2021

The HSUWA attended an Extraordinary Health Union Consultative Group (HUCG) meeting on Friday 19 February 2021.

As requested by the membership, the Department of Health’s Frequently Asked Questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine can be accessed here.  WA Health employees can also access a recording of the vaccination webinar delivered by Dr Andy Robertson to staff on 18 February 2021 which addresses common questions, available on the Department of Health intranet page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who will get the vaccine first?

The Australian Government is responsible for specifying priority populations, drawing on advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).

Identified priority groups (external site) will be offered the first doses, such as people most at risk of becoming very ill with COVID-19 and those at greater risk of infecting others through their work.

More people will have access to the vaccine as more doses become available.

When will the vaccines be made available?

The WA COVID-19 vaccination program is planned to roll out in phases from late February over the course of 2021, provided vaccines are available and proven safe and effective by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) (external site). Phase 1a commenced on 22 February. 

The vaccine program is being implemented in a phased approach because there is currently a limited supply of the first vaccine approved by the TGA.

Will the vaccine be free?

Yes, the COVID-19 vaccination will be free for everyone living in Australia.

Do I still need to follow COVID safe practices while the vaccine is rolled out?

Yes. Everyone needs to continue to practise good hygiene, physical distancing and staying home if you are sick during the vaccine rollout. A COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect the Australian community—more information on protecting yourself.

Do children have to get the vaccine?

It has not been recommended at this stage that children under 16 years will receive the vaccine. If this advice changes, they will be included in later phases of the vaccine rollout.

Which vaccine will be used?

The first doses of Pfizer vaccine, which has received Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approval, has been available for Phase 1a participants since 22 February 2021. The TGA is considering the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine, expected to arrive in March, for approval.

Should I receive the vaccine if I have already had the COVID-19 infection?

You should still receive the vaccine even if you have had a previous COVID-19 infection, as you may have some level of immunity, but this varies and may not last long. The vaccine has been explicitly designed to give reliable, lasting immunity; however, we are yet to determine how long it offers protection. 

How many doses of the vaccine will I have to have?

The number and timing of doses will vary between different COVID-19 vaccines. In Phase 1a of the rollout, people will require two doses (delivered by injection) of the Pfizer vaccine. These doses are usually given 3–4 weeks apart.

How effective are COVID-19 vaccines?

All available vaccines will undergo rigorous testing to ensure that they are safe before being made available to Western Australia people. Any vaccine approved for use will need to pass strict Australian safety standards that are set by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (external site)

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

The Australian Government is responsible for selecting and purchasing vaccines. Vaccines will only be available to Australians once proven safe and effective for the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) (external site).

Will I be protected from the COVID-19 virus once I get the vaccine?

Making safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines available to all Australians is a crucial component of Australia’s strategy for protecting the Australian community from COVID-19.

No vaccines offer total immunity but help to reduce the spread of infection and severity of illness if you are infected. Being vaccinated does not mean that we can stop being careful or start to take risks that put ourselves and others at risk.

What are the possible side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

All vaccines can cause side effects. Usually, these are mild. You may experience minor side effects following vaccination. Most side effects last no more than a couple of days, and you will recover without any problems. Common reactions to immunisation include:

  • pain, redness and/or swelling where you received the needle
  • mild fever.

Serious reactions like allergic reactions are extremely rare. If you have any concerns about the vaccine, ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist. 

Originally published on HealthyWA

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