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COVID-19 Vaccine

As the peak body for Aboriginal Health in South Australia, the Aboriginal Health Council SA endorses the Australian public health position on COVID-19 vaccination. The TGA approved vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective in reducing the risk of serious illness, including hospitalisation and death due to COVID-19. There is also emerging evidence that the vaccines reduce transmission of the disease.  We support and encourage Aboriginal communities to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible.

Why should I have a COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID-19 can be a very serious illness, especially for our elders and those in our community who have existing medical conditions. Getting a vaccine is one of the best ways of protecting ourselves and others in the community from getting really sick, being hospitalised or dying from COVID-19.

As time goes on, there has been more evidence to suggest that vaccines will help to reduce the spread of the virus.

Encouraging your family, Elders and the community to get vaccinated so that everyone is protected from serious illness is the best defence you have against the COVID-19 virus.

It’s normal to experience side effects from the COVID-19 vaccination:

All vaccines can have some side effects, but usually they don’t last long (maybe a couple of days) and they are mild. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Feeling a bit unwell, like after having a flu shot
  • Sore arm
  • Headache
  • Feeling tired
  • Fever

Rare side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are exactly that, very rare, and uncommon; however, it’s important to know what they are so you can be prepared for all circumstances:

  • Severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)
  • A very rare blood clotting condition after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS)

How do I know what vaccine is right for us to get?

There are currently four vaccines available in Australia and they are the Vaxzevria (formally known as AstraZeneca), Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax vaccines.  

The best thing to do is talk to your GP about your personal circumstances to find out which vaccine is right for you.

To recieve the best protection against serious illness from COVID-19, you should stay up to date with all vaccination doses recommended for your age.

At present it’s not mandatory to have the vaccine in Australia, but we are all encouraged to have the vaccine recommended for us as soon as possible. 

The vaccines are recommended for children 5 and above and adults and are also safe for women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant.

Vaccine doses 

All of the available COVID-19 vaccines require two doses. However, extra booster doses are now recommended in many age groups.    

A booster dose will make sure that the protection from the first two doses is even stronger and longer lasting. Booster doses are particularly important to protect from the newer Omicron subvariants of COVID-19. 

Booster doses 

Booster doses can be given three months after people have had their initial COVID-19 vaccinations.   

Booster doses are recommended for all people aged 16 years and older. However, some young people aged 12-15 years, with underlying medical conditions, should also have a booster dose.  

A booster dose increases your protection against: 

- infection of the virus that causes COVID-19 

- severe disease  

- dying from COVID-19 

A booster dose will continue to protect you, your loved ones and your community against COVID-19 and booster doses will be free for everyone.  

Some people will also be advised to have a further Winter booster dose.  You can find more information about the different booster dose recommendations below. 

Booster dose recommendations

It is recommended you have the Pfizer vaccine as a booster if you are: 

  • 12 to 15 years old, and: 
  • are severely immunocompromised, or 
  • have a disability with significant or complex health needs, or 
  • have complex and/or multiple health conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19 
  • 16 or 17 years old. 

Booster doses for people aged 18 years and older

If you are aged 18 years or older, you can have the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine as a booster dose regardless of which vaccine you had for your first 2 doses. 

You can also receive the Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) vaccine as a booster dose if you: 

  • can’t have the Pfizer vaccine for medical reasons 
  • had 2 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine previously 
  • Novavax COVID-19 vaccine can be used as a booster dose in adults, if no other COVID-19 vaccine is suitable for that individual.  

Fourth booster dose

You should get another COVID-19 booster dose, also referred to as a ‘fourth dose’, if you have had your initial booster dose 3 months ago and you are: 

  • 50 years or older 
  • a resident of an aged care or disability care facility 
  • severely immunocompromised 
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and aged 50 years and older 
  • 16 years or older with a medical condition that increases the risk of severe COVID-19 illness 
  • 16 years or older with a disability. 

A fourth dose is also available to people aged 30 to 49 years old if they choose. 

People who had COVID-19 after their first booster should wait at least 3 months before having a winter dose. 

Priority groups for a booster dose

If you are in one of these priority groups, please identify yourself to your chosen vaccination provider so they can help you to get your vaccination as soon as possible: 

  • aged and disability care workers 
  • people with disability 
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 
  • women who are pregnant 
  • people with underlying medical conditions. 

A booster dose will continue to protect you, your loved ones and your community against COVID-19 and booster doses will be free for everyone. More information about the COVID-19 booster vaccination program can be found at the Australian Government Department of Health website. 

Information about the additional Winter dose can be found below.

We can still get the COVID-19 virus once we’ve had the vaccination, but it is still very important that we do have it to protect ourselves and our community

The COVID-19 vaccines will not be able to fully protect us against COVID-19, just like the flu jab will not be able to fully protect us against the flu.

Even after you are fully vaccinated, you may still get the COVID-19 infection, but it is very reassuring to know that the vaccines are very effective at helping prevent us from getting very sick, going to hospital or dying from COVID-19.

Some useful links relating to the COVID-19 vaccinations:

ATAGI Updated Recommendations for Winter Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine

The Australian Government Department of Health | Eligibility Checker (you can book in for your COVID-19 vaccine here)

The Australian Government Department of Health | Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?

The Australian Government Department of Health | COVID-19 Vaccination common questions – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

SA Health | COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 Hotline 1800 253 787