FAQ about COVID-19 vaccines

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FAQ about COVID-19 vaccines

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

The TGA has strict standards for reviewing COVID-19 vaccines. They only approve vaccines that prove to be safe and effective. You can find out more about the TGA approval process here.

All medicines, including vaccines, have risks and benefits. Usually, any side effects are mild and may only last a few days.

You should follow health advice on which vaccine is best for your age group and situation.

Why get vaccinated for COVID-19?

Some people with disability are at greater risk of becoming very sick if they catch COVID-19. It also protects other people who may not be able to be vaccinated.

Are people with Down syndrome at risk for COVID-19?

Yes, people with Down syndrome are at increased risk from COVID-19 and severe COVID-19. People who are at increased risk are advised to be extra careful in protecting themselves and staying COVID-safe.

When can people with Down syndrome get a COVID-19 vaccine?

All adults with Down syndrome are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Children aged between 12 to 15 years, including those with Down syndrome, are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Children under 12 years are not currently eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine as trials are still underway to establish safety for children.

Where can I get my COVID-19 vaccine?

Here are the places where people in the community will be able to access vaccinations, as they become available:

  • GP respiratory clinics
  • General practices that meet requirements
  • Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Services
  • State-run vaccination clinics and hubs
  • Pharmacies.

Many people with disability living in residential support settings will get their vaccination at their residence.

Home visits may be available for people who are unable to visit a COVID-19 vaccination location on a case-by-case basis.

If I’m eligible, how can I book an appointment? 

To find a participating practice visit the COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker and follow the prompts. Click ‘Make a Booking’ at the end to find a service near you in the Vaccine Clinic Finder.

Which vaccine will I get?

As of September 2021, the TGA has approved three vaccines for use in Australia:

  1. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
  2. The Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine
  3. The Spikevax (Moderna) vaccine

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommends the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people under 60 years.

In people 60 years and over, ATAGI continue to advise that the benefits of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the risks.

In July 2021, the TGA announced that the Pfizer vaccine is safe for 12 to 15 year olds.

Are there side effects of COVID-19 vaccines?

Medical experts have studied COVID-19 vaccines to make sure they are safe.

Most side effects are mild and don’t last for long. This might include pain where you were injected, fever or muscle aches.

Getting a flu vaccine and a COVID-19 vaccine on the same day is not recommended. You should wait at least 14 days before and after a COVID-19 vaccine, before having any other type of vaccination.

You can speak to your doctor about your medical condition and whether having the vaccination is the right decision for you.

Before you get vaccinated, tell the person giving you the vaccination if you:

  • Have any allergies, or if you have had had an allergic reaction after being vaccinated before.
  • If you are immunocompromised (you have a weakened immune system).

How do I give consent?

Everyone can choose whether they want to be vaccinated or not. You will need to give informed consent to have a COVID-19 vaccine.

There are resources to support people with disability who are unable to consent themselves. Informed consent for each dose of the vaccination must be given and recorded on their behalf.

You can find consent forms and Easy Read consent forms here.

Can support workers be vaccinated?

The COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary, and no one can be forced to be vaccinated. However, you have a choice about the people you employ to support you.

You can ask your disability service provider to encourage your support worker to be vaccinated against COVID-19. If a support worker does not wish to be vaccinated, the service provider will need to consult with you. You can then choose to employ that person or not. It’s your choice. This may mean identifying another support worker.

Do we still need COVID-Safe practices?

Yes. Some people may still get COVID-19 after vaccination.

To keep yourself and your community safe, whether you have been vaccinated or not, you should continue to:

  • Stay 1.5 metres away from other people and avoid handshakes and physical contact with people outside your household.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell and get tested for COVID-19. You must stay at home until your results come back.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use hand sanitiser.
  • Always cough or sneeze into your arm or a tissue and put the tissue in the bin straight away.

Resources and links

For the latest COVID-19 vaccine updates please visit www.health.gov.au/covid19-vaccines

The Department of Health has Information for people with disability about COVID-19 vaccines.

Contact the Disability Gateway website or phone line for fact-checked information and advice about COVID-19.

The information on this page is based upon information provided by the Australian Government Department of Health: Information for people with disability about COVID-19 vaccines

The information on this page is for information only and does not constitute medical advice. For advice on your individual or medical circumstances, please consult with your GP or a qualified health care provider. For accurate information and the latest updates, please consult the Australian Government Department of Health website www.health.gov.au/covid19-vaccines.

Last updated: 11 September, 2021