Top 10 questions about COVID-19

Top 10 questions our doctors are asked about the COVID-19 vaccines

We’ve vaccinated thousands of patients against COVID-19, and our doctors have been asked a lot of questions about the vaccines.

Some questions are asked more than others, and we’d like to share them 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?

We’re currently offering the Pfizer vaccine for anyone aged 12 or over.

We’re also offering the AstraZeneca vaccine for anyone aged 18 or over.

If you have any questions, please make an appointment with your usual doctor beforehand.

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?

It’s preferable to have two doses of the same vaccine to be fully vaccinated, but it’s possible to switch vaccines if necessary. Please talk to your doctor.

8. Is a COVID-19 booster necessary, and if so, when should I have it?

Research shows that boosters don’t simply top up immunity – they elevate protection well above the peak level from two doses. So, it’s very important you get your booster shot.

You should have your booster about six months after your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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

You can book in for a special vaccine clinic by calling 9304 0500.

If you can, bring the consent form to your appointment (we’ll email you a link to the form once you’ve booked).

More information

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 30 November 2021.

Important information

Online bookings (HotDoc) are working again!

Got COVID-19 or you're a close contact? Refer to coronavirus.vic.gov.au/checklist for info.

Please note we're not currently giving COVID-19 vaccinations to kids aged 5 to 11.