Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

After you get the COVID-19 vaccination

13-minute read

The COVID-19 vaccine will be available to all Australians in 2021. Read about side effects, restrictions, travel and more.

If you have severe difficulty breathing, call triple zero (000) immediately and tell the call handler and the paramedics on arrival about your recent travel history and any close contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19.

Do COVID-19 vaccines have any side effects?

You may experience minor side effects following vaccination against COVID-19. Most side effects last no more than a couple of days and you'll recover without any problems.

Some people will have more significant flu-like symptoms — for example: fever, chills, muscle pain and feeling tired — from this vaccination compared to others and may need a rest from normal activities.

These symptoms may occur after either dose, but they are more common after the first dose of AstraZeneca's vaccine, called Vaxzevria, and the second dose of Pfizer's vaccine, called Comirnaty.

If you experience pain at the injection site, fever, headaches or body aches in the first 1 to 2 days after vaccination, you can take paracetamol to help reduce any of these symptoms. You don’t need to take paracetamol or ibuprofen before vaccination. If there’s swelling at the injection site, you can use a cold compress.

Serious reactions, such as allergic reactions, are extremely rare. If you have any concerns about your vaccination, ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

All injectable vaccines have the potential for an allergic reaction after you are injected. Some of the symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

You should seek medical attention after vaccination if:

  • you think you are having an allergic reaction. Call 000 if you experience severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, a fast heartbeat or collapse
  • you’re worried about a potential side effect or have new or unexpected symptoms
  • you have an expected side effect of the vaccine that hasn’t gone away after a few days

For symptoms that aren’t urgent, you can see your regular healthcare provider — usually your GP. Be sure to tell your doctor that you’ve recently received the vaccination.

You can also enter your symptoms into the healthdirect Side Effect Checker.

Other side effects not listed here may occur in some people.

Pfizer vaccine side effects

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has provisionally approved the Pfizer vaccine, which is called Comirnaty.

Common side effects include:

  • pain or swelling at the injection site
  • tiredness
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • fever and chills
  • joint pain

Less common side effects may include:

Rare side effects that have been reported after vaccination with Comirnaty include:

Overseas studies have observed a very small risk of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) and pericarditis (inflammation of the membrane around the heart) following vaccination with mRNA vaccines. Pfizer's Comirnaty vaccine is an mRNA vaccine.

Seek medical attention if you experience symptoms suggestive of heart inflammation — such as chest pain, shortness of breath and palpitations. Palpitations feel like your heart is racing, thumping or skipping beats. Typically, these symptoms have occurred within 1 to 5 days of vaccination, particularly after the second dose of Comirnaty.

Call 000 if you experience severe allergic reactions symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, a fast heartbeat or collapse.

If you experience any side effect and you're worried, speak to your doctor.

Other side effects not listed here may occur in some people.

AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) vaccine side effects

The TGA has provisionally approved AstraZeneca's vaccine, which is called Vaxzevria.

If you do experience any side effects, most of them are mild to moderate in nature and resolve within a few days. However, some side effects may need medical attention.

Common side effects may include:

  • tenderness, pain, swelling, redness, itching or swelling at the injection site
  • feeling unwell
  • tiredness
  • chills or fever
  • headache
  • nausea
  • muscle pain
  • joint pain

Less common side effects may include:

Rare side effects that have been reported after vaccination with Vaxzevria include:

A very rare and unusual blood-clotting condition called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia (TTS) has been reported following vaccination with AstraZeneca's Vaxzevria. It is different to other blood-clotting conditions, such as deep-vein thrombosis (DVT).

The symptoms of TTS typically appear between 4 and 42 days after vaccination. People with this condition are very unwell and need to go to hospital, where TTS can be treated effectively.

Symptoms of TTS may include:

  • headache that persists for more than 48 hours after vaccination, or appears later than 48 hours after vaccination, which:
    • may be relieved by simple painkillers initially, but then persists
    • may be worse when lying down
    • may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting
  • blurred vision
  • difficulty speaking
  • difficulty breathing
  • drowsiness
  • seizures or confusion
  • chest pain
  • swelling in your leg
  • persistent abdominal (stomach) pain
  • tiny blood spots under the skin, away from the site of injection

The TGA is monitoring reports of suspected Guillain-Barre Syndrome following vaccination with AstraZeneca's Vaxzevria vaccine. However, no causal association with the vaccine has been established at this stage.

Call 000 if you experience severe allergic reactions symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, a fast heartbeat or collapse.

If you experience any side effect and you're worried, speak to your doctor.

How do I report vaccine side effects?

You can report suspected side effects to your vaccination provider or other healthcare professional. They will then make a formal report on your behalf to your state or territory health department or directly to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

If you would prefer to report side effects yourself, visit the TGA website and follow the directions here: tga.gov.au/reporting-problems. By reporting side effects, you can help provide more information on the safety of these vaccines.

Am I exempt from restrictions or wearing masks once vaccinated?

At this stage, restrictions will still apply in your state or territory.

This is because both Pfizer's and AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccines have only been shown to help prevent severe illness and death from the disease named COVID-19, which is caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

It’s not yet known whether these vaccines prevent transmission of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19. You still need to follow restrictions after being vaccinated.

Wearing a mask is an effective way to help prevent the spread of the virus and in some places, wearing a mask is mandatory regardless of whether you've been vaccinated.

Can I travel overseas once vaccinated?

The advice from the Australian Government has not changed in regard to international travel. There is still a ban on overseas travel from Australia and you can't leave the country unless you have an exemption.

However, people who’ve been in Australia for 14 days are allowed to travel to New Zealand without applying for an outwards travel exemption. If you’re transiting through New Zealand to another destination you must apply for an outward travel exemption.

For more information, visit smartraveller.gov.au.

Do I still need to quarantine when I arrive in Australia if I've been vaccinated overseas?

Anyone travelling to Australia from overseas will still need to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, even if they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19.

If you’re coming to Australia, you also need to have a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result 72 hours or less before the scheduled departure time of your flight (or your first flight if you have a connecting flight during your journey to Australia).

You need to provide evidence of your negative result when you check in at the airport and carry this while you're travelling.

There are a few exemptions from pre-departure testing — such as where PCR testing is not reasonably available. But being vaccinated is not an exemption.

International travellers should also be tested at days 16 or 17 following quarantine — if there have been potential exposure sources within the quarantine facility. This is regardless of whether the traveller has symptoms.

How do I access my vaccination certificate and how do I prove vaccination without Medicare?

There are 2 ways to get proof of COVID-19 vaccination. You can go online to get:

  • an immunisation history statement; or
  • a COVID-19 digital certificate

Immunisation history statement

Once you've had your COVID-19 vaccination, it will be recorded in the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). Previously it was voluntary for health providers to add vaccinations to the AIR but due to new legislation, adding all vaccinations — including for COVID-19 — will be mandatory.

Your immunisation history statement is a record of all of your vaccinations that have been added to the Australian Immunisation Register — this will include your COVID-19 vaccination.

You can access your immunisation history statement online through the myGov website or the Express Plus Medicare mobile app — which you can download from the App Store or Google Play. It can be printed or downloaded as proof of your vaccination. If you can’t access myGov or the Medicare app, your doctor or vaccination provider can print your immunisation history statement for you.

You can also call the AIR and ask them to send your statement to you. It can take up to 14 days to arrive in the post. Contact AIR on 1800 653 809, Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm.

COVID-19 digital certificate

You can also get a COVID-19 digital certificate after you’ve had all required COVID-19 vaccine doses in the required timeframe. The digital certificate only shows COVID-19 vaccines that are approved for use in Australia.

Your vaccination provider needs to report your vaccination information to the Australian Immunisation Register (see above) before you can get a digital certificate.

There are several ways to access your COVID-19 digital certificate:

  • via the Express Plus Medicare mobile app — which you can download from the App Store or Google Play
  • a print-ready version of the COVID-19 digital certificate is available through:
    • your myGov account at my.gov.au
    • the Express Plus Medicare mobile app
    • your Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI) — see ‘If you don’t have Medicare’, below
  • you can get a print-ready version of the COVID-19 digital certificate from your vaccination provider
  • access via My Health Record will be available soon

Your COVID-19 digital certificate features:

  • your name and date of birth
  • your IHI — people who have Medicare are also automatically given an IHI. This is because you may have several family members with the same Medicare number.
  • a document number — a unique number assigned each time the certificate is downloaded
  • a ‘valid from’ date
  • the type and dates of your vaccinations

You can add your COVID-19 digital certificate to your Apple Wallet or Google Pay using either:

  • the Express Plus Medicare mobile app
  • your Medicare online account through myGov

If you don’t have Medicare

If you’re not eligible for Medicare, you’ll need an Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI). You’ll then be able to get your immunisation history statement through your myGov account.

There are 2 ways to get an IHI: online through your myGov account at my.gov.au; or using the form at servicesaustralia.gov.au.

For more information about your COVID-19 vaccination records, visit the COVID-19 vaccinations section at servicesaustralia.gov.au.

What if I don’t want my information in the Australian Immunisation Register?

You must have your vaccinations recorded in the Register, as per the Australian Immunisation Register Act.

However, you can request to not have your personal information further disclosed from the Register. Go to servicesaustralia.gov.au and search for the form ‘IM017’.

Do I need to get tested following vaccination if I develop symptoms?

Some side effects from COVID-19 vaccination, such as fever, might be similar to symptoms of COVID-19 itself. However, neither of the vaccines contain any live SARS-CoV-2 virus and can’t cause COVID-19.

You may not need to get a COVID-19 test or isolate:

  • if you develop general symptoms such as fever, headache or tiredness in the first 2 days after vaccination, and
  • if you are sure that you don’t have any respiratory symptoms (such as runny nose, cough, sore throat, loss of smell or loss of taste)

However, you should check the current guidelines in your state or territory for the most up-to-date information. This advice may change in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak in your local area.

You may still need to get a COVID-19 test if you meet other criteria — for example, if you are a close contact of a known COVID-19 case.


More questions about COVID-19 vaccines

Click on the links below for more questions and answers about COVID-19 vaccines.


Resources in other languages

COVID-19 vaccination resources in other languages are available from the Department of Health.

Looking for more information?

Visit healthdirect's COVID-19 information hub for more answers to questions about the coronavirus, or use these COVID-19 tools and resources:

RESTRICTIONS — Use the COVID-19 Restriction Checker to find out what you can and can't do in your state or territory.

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the COVID-19 Symptom Checker to find out if you need to seek medical help.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2021


Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 vaccine information for the Western Australian community.

Read more on WA Health website

COVID-19 vaccination and pregnancy

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine has begun, but if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you might be wondering whether it is safe for you to get vaccinated.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

COVID-19 vaccines | Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)

Information and updates on COVID-19 vaccines

Read more on TGA – Therapeutic Goods Administration website

COVID-19 vaccines | Australian Government Department of Health

The latest news and information about COVID-19 vaccines in Australia.

Read more on Department of Health website

COVID-19 vaccination program | SA Health

About COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination programs to protect yourself and others and help stop the spread of coronavirus in South Australia.

Read more on SA Health website

COVID-19 vaccine | Health and wellbeing | Queensland Government

The Queensland Government has a plan to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to Queenslanders, working alongside the Australian Government

Read more on Queensland Health website

COVID-19 vaccines: Frequently asked questions | NCIRS

COVID-19 vaccines: Frequently asked questions COVID-19 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander immunisation Australian Immunisation Handbook AusVaxSafety Big data Clinical research COSSI COVID-19 NCIRS COVID-19 response COVID-19 vaccine development landscape COVID-19 vaccines: Frequently asked questions COVID-19 vaccination program in Australia Disease surveillance and epidemiology Education and training New South Wales Immunisation Specialist Service (NSWISS) Paediatric Active Enhanced Disease Surveillance (PAEDS) PHN Immunisation Support program Program evaluation Regional and global collaborations Research to inform policy Sharing Knowledge About Immunisation (SKAI) Serosurveillance Social science in immunisation Vaccine coverage Vaccine safety We have provided answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccines

Read more on National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) website

COVID-19 vaccine development landscape | NCIRS

COVID-19 vaccine development landscape COVID-19 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander immunisation Australian Immunisation Handbook AusVaxSafety Big data Clinical research COSSI COVID-19 NCIRS COVID-19 response COVID-19 vaccine development landscape COVID-19 vaccines: Frequently asked questions COVID-19 vaccination program in Australia Disease surveillance and epidemiology Education and training New South Wales Immunisation Specialist Service (NSWISS) Paediatric Active Enhanced Disease Surveillance (PAEDS) PHN Immunisation Support program Program evaluation Regional and global collaborations Research to inform policy Sharing Knowledge About Immunisation (SKAI) Serosurveillance Social science in immunisation Vaccine coverage Vaccine safety   In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our policy support team has been closely monitoring publicly available information on COVID-19 vaccine candidates

Read more on National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) website

Covid-19 Vaccines in Australia | HealthEngine Blog

Typically vaccines take many years of research and testing before they are available in a clinic, but in 2020 scientists around the world worked hard to produce safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines as quickly as possible

Read more on HealthEngine website

COVID-19 vaccination, cardiovascular disease and diabetes

Read more on Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo