With more than 1,500 patients now vaccinated at PVH Medical, our doctors have been asked a lot of questions about the COVID-19 vaccines.
Some questions are asked more than others, and we’d like to share those with you today.
So, here are the top 10 questions our doctors are asked about the COVID-19 vaccines.
1. The vaccines arrived so fast. How do I know they’re safe?
COVID-19 vaccines went through the same safety checks as other vaccines. Rather than the science being sped up, the administrative and funding processes have been fast-tracked.
2. What are the side effects, and should I worry?
It’s normal to experience mild side effects. The most common ones include pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever. These side effects are temporary and go away without treatment in 1-2 days.
Severe reactions to vaccines are very rare. Health experts are closely monitoring this.
3. Can you get COVID-19 from a COVID-19 vaccine?
No, you can’t. To get COVID-19, a live virus that can multiply in your body has to infect you. No vaccine supplied currently in the world contains live coronavirus.
4. Is it free?
Yes, COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone in Australia, as per Australian government policy.
5. Can I choose which COVID-19 vaccine I get?
People aged 50 and over are currently being offered the AstraZeneca vaccine.
People aged under 50 can choose to have the AstraZeneca vaccine at our clinic if they consider the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risk for them. Our doctors can help with that.
Later this year, the Pfizer and/or Moderna vaccines will be offered to all age groups, subject to availability.
If you’re over 50, we recommend getting vaccinated now rather than waiting.
6. I’ve heard that AstraZeneca can cause blood clots. Is that true?
The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is associated with a very rare risk of a condition called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS.
TTS involves blood clots (thrombosis) along with low platelet levels (thrombocytopenia), and occurs around 4-28 days after vaccination.
It’s currently estimated to affect around 6 people per million doses. To date, almost all reported cases were after the first dose of the vaccine.
Not all clots that occur after having the AstraZeneca vaccine will be due to TTS. Blood clotting problems occur commonly in the population.
Annually, common clots such as deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism (a clot in the lungs) will affect about 1 in a 1,000 people in Australia, unrelated to any vaccine.
7. I’ve had my first dose of AstraZeneca, can I switch to Pfizer for my second dose?
To be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 you must have two doses of the same vaccine.
If you’ve had your first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine without developing TTS or experiencing another serious adverse event, then you can safely receive your second dose regardless of your age.
8. Why is AstraZeneca still recommended for people over 50?
The AstraZeneca vaccine remains highly effective at preventing death and severe illness among people who have contracted COVID-19. The incidence of the blood clotting syndrome (TTS) is very rare.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has advised the AstraZeneca vaccine remains safe and is recommended to be given to people aged 50 years and over, and may be given to people under 50 if the benefits clearly outweigh the risks.
While Australia currently has very low or no community transmission of COVID-19, this could change. The risk of serious disease and death in Australia remains, even as border controls and other measures continue.
The individual benefit-to-risk balance of vaccination with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine varies with age. This balance is based on factors including the increased risk of complications from COVID-19 with increasing age and the potential lower risk of this very rare, but serious, adverse event with increasing age.
9. Can I get the vaccine if I’ve recently had other vaccinations, such as the flu jab?
The preferred minimum interval between a dose of seasonal flu vaccine and a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is 7 days.
Chat with your GP for more information when getting your routine vaccinations.
10. Will the COVID-19 vaccines be effective on new variants of the virus?
Current evidence from clinical trials indicates that the antibodies induced from COVID-19 vaccines are likely to provide protection to a variety of mutations and minor changes.
However, in some cases there may be an impact on how antibody developed from vaccines based on the original strain can ‘neutralise’ the virus.
This may mean that the effectiveness of the current vaccines against this particular strain could be affected. This information is still emerging and is being closely monitored.
In the same way that the influenza vaccine changes each season, the technology used to create the COVID-19 vaccines may be able to be adapted to changes in variants.
How to book
If you’re over age 50
Simply book on our website. Select ‘PVH Medical – COVID Vaccination Clinic’ as the appointment type. Please don’t use the Appointuit mobile app to book.
If you’re under age 50
Just make a regular booking with your GP to discuss things first. Use the website or app as you normally would.
If you’d like to find out more, take a read of these frequently asked questions. Or, make a booking with your GP and they’d be glad to answer your questions!
Source: Australian Government, SA Health, NCIRS, ABC
Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs. Page last updated 21 May 2021.