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COVID-19 - vaccination

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)
  • There is a rare risk of myocarditis and pericarditis (heart inflammation) following Moderna and Pfizer vaccines 

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

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

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

ATAGI recommends COVID-19 vaccination for children aged 6 months to under 5 years with severe immunocompromise, disability, and those who have complex and/or multiple health conditions which increase the risk of severe COVID-19. 

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

Most people need two doses to start with. This is called the primary course. Some people will need 3 doses, for example if they have severe immunocompromise. 

After the primary course, a booster dose is advised for some people. You can find more information below. 

There are three brands of vaccine currently in use in Australia. Some brands have developed new formulations to give broader protection against new variants of COVID-19. Some past vaccines are no longer available.

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 advice

The latest advice about ongoing protection from COVID applies from September 2023. There is now advice about a 2023 COVID-19 Booster as well as an additional 2023 Booster for some groups at significant risk of severe COVID-19 infection.

First 2023 Booster Dose

From 20 February 2023, a 2023 booster dose was recommended 6 months after receiving your last COVID-19 vaccine dose or confirmed COVID-19 infection, regardless of the number of vaccine doses you have had before, for:

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

Adults aged 18 to 64 years without risk factors for severe COVID-19 and children and adolescents aged 5 to 17 years with risk factors for severe COVID-19 can consider a 2023 booster dose based on an individual risk benefit assessment with your immunisation provider.

It is not too late to have your 2023 Booster. If it is recommended for you, consider having it as soon as possible.

An Additional 2023 Booster Dose

From September 2023, an extra 2023 booster dose is recommended for people in the following group, if 6 months has passed since your last dose or confirmed infection.

  • All adults aged 75 years or over

The following people can consider an Additional 2023 booster

  • All adults aged 65 to 74 years
  • Adults aged 18-64 years with severe immunocompromise

A 2023 booster dose is not recommended for children and adolescents under the age of 18 who do not have any risk factors for severe COVID-19.

In Australia, many people have had a COVID infection in the past. To get the best protection against COVID, it is still important to have all the recommended COVID vaccine doses.

However, for most people, if it is less than six months since you last had a positive test or vaccination, you will have some protection against getting really sick from COVID.

Some people might have had a COVID infection in the past six months, and not known about it, or not had a test. In that situation, it is still safe to have your 2023 Booster.

More information about the first 2023 Booster can be found in the ATAGI 2023 booster advice.

Information about the additional 2023 Booster is now available here.

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.

Vaccines for children

COVID-19 Vaccines in Australia - poster

Some useful links relating to the COVID-19 vaccinations:

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?