COVID-19 VACCINE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
In Australia there are two vaccines which have now been fully approved:
- The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is named Comirnaty. It will be manufactured offshore and will be used in the phase 1a roll out of the vaccine through hospitals to front line health care workers, quarantine staff and residents and staff of aged care facilities
- The AstraZeneca vaccine was developed by the University of Oxford/Astra Zeneca. It is being manufactured in Australia by CSL. This vaccine will be distributed through general practices and will be the vaccine administered by Bardon Rainworth Medical Centre..
Both vaccines have been given to millions of people in the UK and Europe.
You may have read or heard about several countries suspending the use of some batches of the Astra Zenica vaccine (eg Denmark, Norway, Thailand, Italy). The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) which approved vaccines and a number of epidemiologists who study the vaccine have stated that there is no obvious causal link between adverse outcomes after getting the vaccine and the vaccine itself. The adverse events are likely to be co-incidental. Please remember millions of people in Europe have been given the vaccine with no side effects.
It will take time for enough vaccine doses to be manufactured so that the entire population in Australia can be vaccinated. Initially, the vaccine will be offered using a ‘priority framework‘ that outlines how to allocate the initially limited available doses.
The Australian Government, informed by ATAGI (Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisations) and other medical expert groups, has published detailed information outlining priority populations on the basis of a number of factors, including where COVID-19 infections are occurring, the risk of infection and severe disease, and the characteristics of the available vaccines. After the 1a roll out, the next group to be vaccinated are the Phase 1b patients (over 70 years old, other health care workers and those with a chronic disease), then to phase 2a patients (adults 50-69 years old) and finally to the rest of the adult population in phase 2b.
Phase 1b at Bardon Rainworth Medical Centre is scheduled to commence on 24-3-21.
Similar priority lists have been developed around the world, including by the World Health Organization, the United Kingdom Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
As quarantine and border workers, frontline health care workers and aged care and disability care staff workers are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 and also may spread the virus to vulnerable patients and the elderly, have been identified as groups to be offered the vaccine first, along with aged care and disability residents.
Children are not an initial priority group for COVID-19 vaccination because of lesser disease severity in children than in older people.
By vaccinating, you are protecting yourself and others from severe COVID-19. It is also likely that once a large amount of people are vaccinated, this will decrease the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
Immunity occurs after the vaccine stimulates a person’s immune system to make antibodies to help protect the body from future infections. This means that if a person is vaccinated their immune system will detect and kill the COVID -19 virus rapidly so in most cases the virus will NOT infect them. Even if a person does get infected it is likely to be milder illness.
You will not be able to choose which COVID-19 vaccine you are offered.
Initial supply of COVID-19 vaccines will be limited, so initially vaccines (Pfizer vaccine) will be first offered to people with the highest risk of getting, spreading or having severe illness from COVID-19 ( this is the 1a Group—and then more broadly to people of eligible age in the rest of the community (i.e. aged 16 or older for Comirnaty, and aged 18 or older for COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca).
Initial supply of COVID-19 vaccines will be limited, and whichever vaccine is available will be first offered to and then more broadly to the rest of the adult community.
COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca is a COVID-19 vaccine developed by The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca. It contains the genetic code for an important part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus called the spike protein that is carried into your cells by a harmless common cold ‘carrier’ virus (an adenovirus). Your body then makes and uses the spike protein to learn to recognise and fight against SARS-CoV-2. The carrier adenovirus has been modified so that it cannot spread to other cells and cause infection. For this reason, COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca does not behave like a ‘live vaccine’.
Yes. For the Astra Zenica vaccine, you will develop immunity after the first vaccine but studies show a second booster vaccine improved your immunity and maintains immunity for longer.
The second vaccine will be administered 12 weeks after your first vaccine. If you are a late for your second vaccine you have up to 6 months to get the second vaccine
All vaccines can cause side effects. Usually these are mild.
COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca can cause side effects that are usually mild to moderate, appear within the first day after vaccination and generally go away within a few days. The most common side effects are pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever. These side effects are temporary and go away without treatment in 1–2 days.
Refer to the after you COVID-19 vaccination guide for information on common and less common side effects.
Some people may have allergic reactions. The AstraZeneca vaccine (all other recipients of the COVID vaccine will receive this), has Polysorbate 80 which is related to Polyethylene Glycol (PEG), wqhich is found in a large number of other vaccines and medications) however initial data from 1 million doses in the UK has not shown any cases of anaphylaxis. It is important to speak to your GP prior to your vaccination appointment if you have a history of anaphylaxis.
Both vaccines are safe for those with allergies. There is no indication that people with conditions such as asthma, hay fever, food allergy or insect sting allergy have any greater risk of allergy than the general populations.
Unlike some other vaccines there is no food, gelatin or latex in the COVID-19 vaccines currently available, and they are not grown in eggs. An allergic reaction to another vaccine does not mean you will also be allergic to the COVID-19 vaccine.
If you have a known PEG allergy or previous anaphylaxis to multiple medications you should see an allergy specialist first to assess and confirm your allergy. The AstraZeneca Vaccine may be suitable as an alternative if PEG allergy is confirmed.
Both COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people with primary and secondary immunodeficiencies and autoimmune conditions who are not otherwise considered to be at greater risk of vaccine allergy already. In fact people with certain pre-existing medical conditions have been identified as some of the first to be vaccinated in the initial priority groups due to higher risks associated with contracting the COVID-19 illness.
It is not recommended to have the flu vaccine and a COVID-19 vaccine on the same day. It is preferred that the minimum interval between a dose of flu vaccine and a dose of COVID-19 vaccine is 2 weeks.
Refer to the preparing for COVID-19 vaccination guide on what to do before your vaccination. This provides information on what you should do before your COVID-19 vaccination as well as what to expect at your appointment. If you are having your vaccination at Bardon Rainworth Medical Centre you will be required to complete and return your consent form the day prior to your vaccination appointment. We suggest booking online via our online booking system which will enable you to complete your consent form digitally https://www.bardonmedical.com.au/. If you ned to phone to make an appointment you may need to havre a pre-appointm,ent to give consent and be prepared for the day of the vaccination.
Refer to the after your COVID-19 vaccination guide for information on what to do after your vaccination. This provides a list of common side effects and what to do in the event of a side effect.
If you are an adult aged under 50 years, you should only receive a first dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine where the benefit of receiving the vaccine clearly outweighs the risk in your individual circumstance. You may wish to discuss your individual benefit-to-risk balance with your doctor. Generally, if you have not already received a first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, then the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is preferred in adults aged under 50 years. Information about how to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will be available on the Department of Health website shortly. If you would like to talk about this with your doctor, I can make an appointment for you now. If you are 50 years of age or older, you can still receive your AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
- National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance https://www.ncirs.org.au/public/covid-19-vaccines
- Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy https://www.allergy.org.au/patients/covid-19
- Australian Government Department of Health https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines
- World Health Organization https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/covid-19-vaccines