COVID-19 vaccine FAQs

Frequently asked questions for the Western Australian community about the COVID-19 vaccination.

COVID-19 vaccination rollout

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 rollout 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.

Who should have the vaccine?

All adults over 16 years are recommended to have the vaccine once they are eligible. The vaccine program is being implemented in a phased approach with those most at risk of becoming very ill with COVID-19 and those at greater risk of becoming infected through their work and infecting others being offered the vaccine as a priority.

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. It is important for everyone 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 how to protect 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 roll out.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine

Which vaccine will be used?

Australia has entered into separate agreements (external site) for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines, if they are proved to be safe and effective.

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.

Do I have to get the vaccine if it is offered to me?

While the Australian Government supports and promotes immunisation, it is not mandatory, and individuals can choose whether to get vaccinated.

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 designed specifically to give reliable, lasting immunity, however we are yet to determine how long it offers protection.

Where will I be able to access the vaccine?

More information about the WA COVID-19 vaccination program will be made available soon, including details of where you can get vaccinated, how to consent to the vaccine and how to book a vaccination appointment. Check back regularly on this website for updates.

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.

COVID-19 vaccine safety

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

All available vaccines will undergo rigorous testing to ensure that they are safe before being made available to people in Western Australia. The Australian Government is responsible for selecting and purchasing vaccines. Vaccines will only be available to Australians once proven safe and effective for use by 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 key 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 which 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 vaccination 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. 

COVID-19 vaccine suppliers

Astra-Zeneca

Who developed Astra-Zeneca?

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is developed by The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca in the United Kingdom.

How many doses of the vaccine is needed?

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine requires two doses. 

What is the timeframe between first and second doses?

The second dose should be administered between 4 and 12 weeks after the first dose.

Is it safe?

Australian should be confident that AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine meets the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s high safety and quality standards.

How effective is it?

AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective at preventing severe disease. The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is about 62-70% effective at preventing people from getting sick with COVID-19, based on information from clinical trial results. 

Pfizer

Who developed the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine?

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech.

What is in the vaccine?

Pfizer vaccine contains the mRNA and other substances to stabilize the vaccine: such as Distearoylphosphatidylcholine, cholesterol, potassium chloride, Monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, Sucrose and water for injections.

How many doses of the vaccine is needed?

Pfizer vaccine requires 2 doses.

What is the timeframe between first and second doses?

The two doses are given between 3 and 7 weeks apart.

Is it safe?

Australian should be confident that Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine meets the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s high safety and quality standards.

How effective is it?

Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine is highly effective at preventing severe disease. It is about 95% effective at preventing people from getting sick with COVID-19, based on initial clinical trial results.

Source: NCIRS Commonwealth FAQs WHO FAQs | US CDC FAQs

Last reviewed: 26-02-2021

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

COVID-19 Vaccine National Coronavirus Helpline 1800 020 080