Getting the Covid-19 vaccine: How to prepare and what to expect

Feb 19, 2021
The national coronavirus vaccine rollout starts on Monday, February 22. Source: Getty.

Australia’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout will begin next Monday, with the first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be distributed to workers and residents in aged care homes, as well as healthcare, border, and quarantine workers.

The phase 1a rollout (you can read more about each phase on the Department of Health’s website) is the first step towards Australia’s goal of reaching herd immunity and drastically reducing the cases of Covid-19 across the country. However, if you’re considering getting vaccinated against coronavirus once the jab is made available to you, it’s important that you’re prepared.

The Department of Health has released a vaccination consent form ahead of next week’s rollout, which you’ll be required to fill out and hand to your doctor before you get the jab. You can find it here. The vaccination consent form includes useful information, such as how the vaccine works and whether there are any known side effects.

The government has also urged Aussies to ensure their Medicare details are up to date. You can do this using either your Medicare online account through myGov, the Express Plus Medicare app, or calling the Medicare directly.

About Covid-19 vaccination

So far the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has approved two vaccines for use in Australia: the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine. The vaccination is just like any other and will be administered through a needle. Unlike the flu jab, you need to have the Covid-19 vaccination twice and on different days for it to be fully effective. The person administering the jab will tell you when you need to come back in for the second shot.

And if you were wondering, yes, the Covid-19 vaccine is free, and no, it won’t be mandatory, meaning it’s totally up to you to decide if you want to get the jab. However, it’s been highly recommended, as recent studies have found those who get vaccinated have a much lower chance of getting sick from the virus. It’s important to note, however, that you can still contract the virus even if you’ve had the shot, so continuing to practice social distancing and good hygiene is a must.

As with any vaccine or medicine, you may also experience some mild side effects after getting the Covid-19 jab. Common side effects include pain or swelling at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chill, fever or joint pain. While less common side effects include redness at the injection site, nausea, enlarged lymph nodes, feeling unwell, pain in limb, insomnia or itching at the injection site. If you have a side effect that worries you, please call your doctor.

When will I get the Covid-19 vaccine?

Phase 1a (which is the first phase) will be distributed to workers and residents in aged care homes, as well as healthcare, border, and quarantine workers from next week. More information on which Australian towns will be subject to the vaccine rollout in phase 1a can be found here.

Phase 1b will include adults aged 80 years and over, adults aged 70-79 years, other healthcare workers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait people aged 55 years and over, adults with an underlying medical condition, including those with a disability, and critical and high risk workers including defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat processing. However, it’s not clear how soon after phase 1a, phase 1b will be rolled out.

Phase 2a will include adults aged 60-69 years, adults aged 50-59 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18-24 years, and other critical and high risk workers. Phase 2b will include the rest of the adult population, while phase 3 will include those under the age of 16 if recommend by their doctor.

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