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After you get the COVID-19 vaccination

15-minute read

The COVID-19 vaccine is available to all Australians. Read about side effects, restrictions, travel and more.

If you develop symptoms such as severe shortness of breath or chest pain, call triple zero (000) immediately. Tell the call handler and the paramedics on arrival if you have 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 Vaxzevria vaccine, and the second dose of Pfizer's Comirnaty vaccine and Moderna’s Spikevax vaccine.

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.

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

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

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.

Moderna vaccine side effects

Common side effects after the Moderna vaccine include:

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

Less common side effects after Moderna include:

  • redness or swelling at the injection site
  • swelling or tenderness in the armpit
  • nausea/vomiting
  • enlarged lymph nodes

These symptoms may occur after either dose but are more common after the second dose.

Pfizer vaccine side effects

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has provisionally approved the Pfizer vaccine.

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 Pfizer’s vaccine include:

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

mRNA vaccines

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 and Moderna’s vaccines are mRNA vaccines.

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 Pfizer.

Novavax vaccine side effects

Common side effects include:

  • redness or swelling at the injection site
  • nausea
  • fever
  • nausea or vomiting

Less common side effects include:

  • pain or tenderness at the injection site
  • tiredness
  • headache
  • muscle or joint pain
  • generally feeling unwell

These side effects are usually mild and usually go away within one or 2 days.

Rare side effects include:

  • severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)

It’s not yet known if there are any other rare side effects after Novavax vaccine. This is because only relatively small numbers of people have received this vaccine worldwide. More information will be available over time.

For non-urgent symptoms, you can see your regular healthcare provider.

Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) vaccine side effects

The TGA has provisionally approved AstraZeneca's Vaxzevria vaccine.

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 the AstraZeneca vaccine include:

A very rare and unusual blood-clotting condition called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia (TTS) has been reported following vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine. 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 the AstraZeneca vaccine. However, no causal association with the vaccine has been established at this stage.

Call triple zero (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?

Some restrictions have eased for people who are fully vaccinated, depending on what state or territory they’re in. For information on travel and other COVID-19 restrictions in your state or territory, you can use the healthdirect Restriction Checker.

It’s important that all Australians — fully vaccinated or not — continue practising other preventative measures, like:

  • physical distancing
  • hand washing
  • wearing a face mask if required by your state or territory
  • COVID-19 testing and quarantine or isolation as required by your state or territory

Even if you’re fully vaccinated, you should still get a COVID-19 test if you have symptoms, like a fever, cough or sore throat.

Can I travel overseas once vaccinated?

Australian citizens and permanent residents can leave Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption. This includes Australian citizens and permanent residents who are unvaccinated.

Learn more about travel restrictions related to COVID-19.

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

You may be eligible for reduced quarantine requirements when you return to Australia. States and territories are responsible for managing quarantine requirements for people entering from overseas. To learn which quarantine requirements apply to you, visit the website of the government of the state or territory you wish to enter.

How do I access my vaccination certificate and how do I prove my vaccination?

There are 3 different types of proof available that you can get for free:

  • a COVID-19 digital certificate
  • your immunisation history statement (IHS)
  • an International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate for overseas travel

COVID-19 digital certificate

You can 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.

If you’ve had mixed doses of approved vaccines, you can use your COVID-19 digital certificate or immunisation history statement as proof.

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

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

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.

If you’ve only had one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, you’ll need to use your immunisation history statement as proof. Once you’ve had all required doses, your digital certificate will be available.

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.

International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate

You can get your international certificate when you're getting ready to travel overseas if both of these apply:

  • you have a current Australian passport or foreign passport with an Australian visa
  • you've had at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine

Your vaccination provider needs to report your COVID-19 vaccinations to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) before you can get your international certificate.

If you’ve a current Australian passport, or foreign passport with an Australian visa, you can get an international certificate using either your Medicare online account through myGov or the Express Plus Medicare mobile app.

If you're not eligible for Medicare, you can get your international certificate by calling the AIR on 1800 653 809, Monday to Friday between 8am and 5pm, or visiting a Services Australia service centre. To find a service centre, go to findus.servicesaustralia.gov.au.

If you need to talk to someone in your language when making a call to Services Australia, Medicare or the Australian Immunisation Register, you can use the Translating and Interpreting Service. Call them on 131 450, Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm.

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.


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

Last reviewed: May 2022


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