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Getting the COVID-19 vaccination

14-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.

Quick read and other languages

How to avoid catching COVID-19 including getting vaccinated, wearing masks and physical distancing. Also available in 15 languages.

Why should I get vaccinated against COVID-19?

COVID-19 can cause serious, long-term health conditions, and sometimes death. You should get all the COVID-19 vaccinations recommended for your age and health needs to help protect yourself, your family and the people around you.

When enough people in the community become immunised, it is more difficult for the virus to spread. This helps to protect people who are too young or too old to get vaccinated and those who cannot get vaccinated for health reasons.

BOOK YOUR VACCINATION — Use the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder to book your COVID vaccination or booster.

Who is eligible for COVID-19 vaccination?

You are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination if you are:

  • aged 5 years and over; or
  • aged 6 months to 4 years with severe immunocompromise, or disability or complex or multiple health conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19

Which vaccines are available in Australia for the primary schedule?

Three COVID-19 vaccines are available in Australia: the Comirnaty (Pfizer), Spikevax (Moderna) and Nuvaxovid (Novavax) vaccines.

People aged 5 and over can have the Pfizer vaccine.

People aged 18 years and over can have the Novavax vaccine.

People aged 6 months to under 5 years with severe immunocompromise or disability or complex or multiple health conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19 can have the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine as a primary course.

For most people, a primary vaccination course consists of 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. A third primary dose is the recommendation for people aged 6 months or older with severe immunocompromise.

Can I get a booster dose?

All people aged 18 years and older can get a booster dose if it’s been 6 months or longer since their last COVID-19 booster or confirmed infection (whichever is most recent) for additional protection against severe illness from COVID-19.

A COVID-19 vaccine booster dose is particularly recommended for adults in the following groups:

  • all adults aged 65 years and over
  • adults aged 18-64 who have medical conditions that increase their risk of severe COVID-19, or disability with complex health needs

A booster dose is not recommended at this time for the following people:

  • children and young people aged under the age of 18 who don’t have any risk factors for severe COVID-19
  • children less than 5 years, whether they’re at greater risk of severe disease or not

These recommendations replace all previous COVID-19 vaccine booster advice.

For further vaccine information, please visit Department of Health and Aged Care website.

Which COVID-19 vaccines are preferred for a booster dose?

The COVID-19 bivalent mRNA booster vaccines are preferred over other COVID-19 vaccines for booster doses in Australia — regardless of which brand of vaccine you had for your primary vaccination course (first doses).

These vaccines include:

  • Pfizer Original/Omicron BA.4/5 — available for those 12 years and over
  • Pfizer Original/Omicron BA.1 — available for those 18 years and over
  • Moderna Original/Omicron BA.1 — available as a booster dose for those 18 years and over

Make sure you and your children have a vaccine approved for your and their age group by visiting the Department of Health and Aged Care website.

Future recommendations will aim to give clear, ongoing COVID-19 vaccination guidance, including on definitions of eligibility.

Is COVID-19 vaccination mandatory?

Vaccination is not mandatory for most Australians. But if you work in certain industries, you may need a vaccination to keep attending your workplace.

Different states and territories may need certain workers to get vaccinated. Check with your employer and your state or territory government's Department of Health website for more information.

If you choose to get vaccinated against COVID-19, you will need to consent to this when you attend your COVID-19 vaccination appointment.

'Consent' means giving permission for someone to do something. The person giving you a COVID-19 vaccination must ask if you consent to getting vaccinated.

They will also need to tell you:

  • why you should get the vaccine
  • why it’s safe
  • what will happen when you have it

You can talk to your doctor before you decide to have the COVID-19 vaccination. You may want to ask them questions, such as:

  • how it might affect any health problems you have
  • if there are any risks for you

You can also ask questions of the person who will vaccinate you. You can ask questions such as:

  • what will happen when I get the vaccination?
  • why do I need it?
  • how will I feel after I have it?
  • what could go wrong?
  • what will happen if I say no?

You can consent in different ways. You can:

  • say ‘yes’ or ‘no’
  • use sign language
  • use pictures
  • sign a consent form

You can say ‘no’ if you do not want the vaccination.

You can also bring someone you trust with you to your vaccination appointment. If you cannot consent, your guardian can consent for you. A guardian is a person who acts and makes decisions for you. Your guardian might be a member of your family, a friend or chosen for you by the government.

How much does COVID-19 vaccination cost?

COVID-19 vaccination is free for everyone living in Australia. This includes:

  • Australian citizens, permanent residents, holders of temporary visas and those not eligible for Medicare
  • refugees, asylum seekers, temporary protection visa holders and those on bridging visas
  • people currently in detention facilities including those who have a cancelled visa

Healthcare providers will not charge you any consultation fees associated with getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

How do I make an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination?

Vaccines are being delivered through a combination of general practices, state- and territory-run vaccination clinics, pharmacies and Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Services.

People at residential aged-care and disability-care facilities may get vaccinated through a combination of delivery options. This includes in-reach vaccination providers who deliver the vaccine on site.

The easiest way to make an appointment is by using the Vaccine Clinic Finder. This free online tool will ask you some questions to find vaccine appointments that suit your needs. You can then find clinics near you that offer a COVID-19 vaccine and book your appointment.

You can also ask your general practitioner or your local pharmacy if they vaccinate against COVID-19.

For more information, read ‘How will I get my COVID-19 vaccine?’ on the Department of Health and Aged Care’s website.

Need help booking your COVID-19 vaccine appointment?

Text Hey EVA to 0481 611 382. Someone from the National Coronavirus Helpline will call you back and find you a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

EVA (Easy Vaccine Access) is available every day from 7am to 10pm (AEST) with free interpreting assistance.

What will happen when I get vaccinated?

At your first vaccination appointment, you will:

  • need to confirm you agree to get vaccinated
  • need to bring your Medicare card if you have one
  • have a clinical screening — which usually involves checking that you do not have a fever, cough or other symptoms
  • receive your first vaccination dose
  • be given follow-up information
  • if you use My Health Record, you can check your record to see when your second vaccination is due
  • get monitored for around 15 minutes to make sure you do not have any reactions to the vaccine — it is common practice to wait after receiving a vaccine, including the flu vaccine

At your second appointment, you will get screened again to make sure you do not have symptoms. You will also get monitored after receiving your second dose.

How do I get vaccinated if I do not have Medicare?

You can get a free COVID-19 vaccination even if you do not have Medicare.

If you do not have a Medicare account — and you are eligible — you can register at Services Australia.

If you are not eligible for Medicare, you should have your vaccination at a state- or territory-run vaccination clinic.

If you need proof of your immunisation, you can register for an Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI). While an IHI is not mandatory, it is preferred. An IHI is a unique number that is used to identify you for healthcare purposes. It also allows your vaccinations to get recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).

To apply for an IHI, visit For more information, call Services Australia on 1300 361 457, Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5.00pm (local time). You will need to provide certified copies of proof of identification documents.

For more information, see ‘How do I access my vaccination certificate and how do I prove vaccination without Medicare?

Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine and another vaccine (such as the flu shot) at the same time?

You can have a COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot on the same day. Studies have shown that both vaccines produce an appropriate immune response. But having 2 different vaccines on the same day may increase your chances of having a mild to moderate reaction.

You can get COVID-19 vaccines at the same time as other vaccines, but due to limited research on this, it is recommended to wait a few days between vaccinations.

Children aged 6 months to less than 5 years having the Moderna paediatric COVID-19 vaccine, should wait 7-14 days before getting other vaccinations. This recommendation may change.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more advice on when to schedule your vaccinations.

Can people with chronic health conditions have COVID-19 vaccines?

If you are aged 5 years and older with chronic health conditions, you can get COVID-19 vaccination. If you have chronic conditions or compromised immune systems, you are at greater risk of more serious illness if you get COVID-19.

Children 6 months to less than 5 years with severe immunocompromise, disability and those who have complex or multiple health conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19 can also have COVID-19 vaccination.

You should speak with your healthcare provider for advice on your situation.

For more information, see the Australian’s Government’s COVID-19 vaccination decision guide for people with immunocompromise.

Can pregnant or breastfeeding people have the COVID-19 vaccine?

If you are planning a pregnancy, pregnant or breastfeeding, you can have the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines at any stage, if you are eligible. You do not need to avoid becoming pregnant or delay pregnancy after getting vaccinated. You do not need to stop breastfeeding before or after you get vaccinated.

You can also have the Novavax vaccine. Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines — for which there are substantial data on their safe use in pregnancy and with breastfeeding — there are no immunogenicity or safety data for pregnant or breastfeeding women with the Novavax vaccine.

But there are no theoretical safety concerns relating to use in pregnancy, since the Novavax vaccine, like other COVID-19 vaccines, is not a live vaccine.

More information is available at Pregnancy, Birth and Baby.

Can I get the first and second dose of a COVID-19 vaccination in a different state or country?

You do not have to get your first and second dose at the same location. This includes if you are travelling interstate.

Your first dose of the vaccine will get recorded in the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). This is so your vaccination provider will be able to check which vaccine you received and when you received that first dose.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine overseas

Australians who get their first vaccine dose overseas and return to Australia before their second dose can get their second dose in Australia, if the first dose was for a vaccine available in Australia such as the Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax vaccines. However, some of these vaccines are not available to all age groups in Australia.

If you got a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine that is not available in Australia while overseas, you can have a different brand to complete the primary vaccination course in Australia.

More information on overseas immunisation is available via Services Australia.

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

Last reviewed: March 2023

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