About the AstraZeneca vaccine

The AstraZeneca vaccine is highly effective at reducing the risk of death or severe disease from COVID-19 across all adult age groups. It is registered for use in Australia by the TGA for those over the age of 50.
Information about vaccination will be sent to your Monash Health email address. Please ensure you check it regularly.

About the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine

COVID-19 Vaccine Oxford AstraZeneca is a vaccine that can prevent people from becoming ill from COVID-19.

The vaccine reduces the risk of symptomatic infection by over 80% and also reduces the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

The vaccine does not contain any live virus, and it cannot give you COVID-19.

It stimulates the body’s natural defences (immune system), causing the body to produce its own protection (antibodies) against the virus. This will help to protect you against COVID-19 in the future. None of the ingredients in this vaccine can cause COVID-19.

To prevent COVID-19, everyone aged 16 years and older should get vaccinated, with a few exceptions specified in this information sheet. Vaccination is voluntary.

There have been recent changes in the advice about this vaccine. In Australia, it will now only be administered to those aged over 50.

For the latest information please review the statement from Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) in response to new vaccine safety concerns.

Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine summary

  • Two doses required, preferably spaced by 12 weeks to maximise efficacy.
  • It is a viral vector vaccine.
  • Current evidence indicates when the two doses are given 12 weeks apart, it reduces risk of symptomatic infection by over 80%.
  • Unlike the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is refrigerated at conventional cold-chain temperatures and will be available to the Victorian community through a far greater range of vaccination sites.
  • One UK study shows that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine also reduced transmission by 67% after a single dose.

The latest information on Oxford AstraZeneca

The latest precautionary pauses of Oxford AstraZeneca vaccination has naturally generated many headlines and questions.

On the latest information and advice, we have recommenced vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine for those aged over 50.

The advice from ATAGI is:

  • People who have had the first dose of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca without any serious adverse effects can be given the second dose, including adults under 50 years.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer (Comirnaty) is preferred over COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca in adults aged under 50 years. This recommendation is based on the increasing risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 in older adults (and hence a higher benefit from vaccination) and a potentially increased risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia following AstraZeneca vaccine in those under 50 years.
  • COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca can be used in adults aged under 50 years where the benefits are likely to outweigh the risks for that individual and the person has made an informed decision based on an understanding of the risks and benefits.

Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine information from the Department of Health

Is the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine right for me?

Discuss vaccination with your primary care provider before making an appointment if you:

  • Have had anaphylaxis (a type of severe allergic reaction) to any substance, or if you have an adrenaline autoinjector (e.g. EpiPen).
  • Have had a reaction to any vaccine in the past.
  • Are under 50 years of age.
  • Have had cerebral venous thrombosis in the past.
  • Have had heparin-induced thrombocytopaenia in the past.
  • Have a bleeding disorder or are receiving anticoagulant therapy (a blood thinner).
  • Are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning a pregnancy.
  • Are immunocompromised (i.e. have a weakened immune system or take immune-suppressing medication).
  • Have received another COVID-19 vaccine (and which brand).
  • Have received any vaccine in the last 14 days.

If you are under the age of 50, it is recommended you are vaccinated with the Pfizer (Comirnaty) COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 Vaccine Oxford AstraZeneca – Frequently asked questions

Safety

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

Vaccines are tested to ensure they are safe before they are approved for use.

Before vaccines are made available in Australia, they must pass strict Australian safety standards set by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

All vaccines are thoroughly tested for safety before they are approved for use in Australia. This includes careful analysis of clinical research, ingredients, chemistry, manufacturing and other factors.

How vaccines are approved (video)

Find out more about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines at https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/learn-about-covid-19-vaccines/are-covid-19-vaccines-safe

What are the vaccine side effects? How are the side effects different from COVID-19?

Like many other vaccinations, COVID-19 vaccines can have side effects. These include pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, chills or fever. These symptoms are generally mild and on average resolve within a day or two.

Some of the symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the side effects of vaccination (for example, fever and chills), but others are quite different.

Symptoms of COVID-19 infection can include coughing, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose and loss of or change in sense of smell or taste. These are not normal vaccine reactions. If you have these symptoms, before or after receiving the vaccine, get tested and isolate until you get your result.

More information about side effects of the vaccine can be found at https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines.

What are the risks associated with the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine?

There are some rare but serious side effects that have been reported following the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca:

  • Severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)

There is a possible link to a rare clotting condition. Experts are examining a small number of reports of people with unusual clots after vaccination with the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine.

These cases are being investigated by authorities in the UK and Europe and by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in Australia.

These rare clotting conditions have occurred in the brain or abdomen and are serious. The symptoms have started between day 4 and 20 after vaccination and the conditions have generally been severe, requiring hospitalisation. While it is not yet known if COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine is causing these rare and unusual clots, it is important for people to know authorities in the UK, Europe and Australia are investigating these cases. The results of this investigation will be available soon.

ATAGI recommends COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca can be used in adults aged under 50 years where the benefits are likely to outweigh the risks for that individual and the person has made an informed decision based on an understanding of the risks and benefits.

In the context of the ongoing risk of COVID-19 in Australia, ATAGI considers that the benefit-to-risk balance is favourable for use of AstraZeneca vaccine in all older adult age groups.

Can I have my second dose of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca if I’m under 50?

People who have had the first dose of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca without any serious adverse effects can be given the second dose, including adults under 50 years.

Can I receive the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine if I am breastfeeding, pregnant, or trying to become pregnant?

Clinical trials for new medicines do not typically include pregnant or breastfeeding participants. Each country that is hosting, or has hosted, clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccine candidates has different guidance regarding use of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy based on the benefits, risks and uncertainties in the context of the prevailing pandemic situation.

In preparation for vaccine roll-out, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation  has provided advice for breastfeeding and pregnant women for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. This will be updated for the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine. This advice will be provided as soon as it is received.

What if I have a history of anaphylaxis?

If you have a history of anaphylaxis or allergic reactions to vaccines you should discuss this with your doctor and also with your immunisation provider, before receiving your first dose.

After receiving a vaccination, everyone should wait for 15 minutes before leaving the premises so they can be monitored for any reaction. People with a history of allergic reactions to vaccination, or of anaphylaxis to any exposure, should wait 30 minutes after vaccination to be observed for a reaction.

Anyone who is suspected to have had an allergic reaction to the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine should see their doctor and discuss with the specialist vaccination centre or an allergy specialist.

More information about the vaccine can be at https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for people with allergies?

Yes. Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines are safe for people with allergies such as asthma, hayfever, and food allergies.

If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a vaccine before, you should discuss with your doctor or vaccine provider before having your first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

More information about the vaccine can be at https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for people with immunodeficiencies?

Yes. Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines are safe for people with immunodeficiencies and autoimmune conditions.

However, the COVID-19 vaccines may be less effective for people with immune deficiencies, or people who are on medicines that affect the immune system.

If you have immunodeficiency or are on medicines that affect the immune system please talk to your medical specialist or GP.

More information about COVID-19 vaccines can be found at https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines.

If I have a reaction to the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine can I still have the second dose?

If you have a non-allergic reaction, for example you faint, you can receive the second dose. Let your immunisation provider know if you are prone to fainting.

If you have a mild to moderate reaction you can still receive the second dose, but must remain on-site and under supervision at the vaccine site for 30 minutes after your second dose.

Special vaccination centres will be available for people with a history of severe allergic reactions to vaccines so they can be safely vaccinated against COVID-19. Anyone who is suspected to have had an allergic reaction to the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine should see their doctor and discuss with the specialist vaccination centre or an allergy specialist.

If you experience anaphylaxis, you should consult your doctor and consider referral to an allergy specialist before receiving the second dose. If in doubt, always speak with your doctor first.

More information about the vaccine can be found at https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines.

The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine

Will I have to pay for the vaccination?

No, the COVID-19 vaccination is free.

Can I get COVID-19 from the COVID-19 vaccine?

No, the COVID-19 vaccines do not contain the COVID-19 virus. It is impossible to get COVID-19 from these vaccines.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine also protect me against the flu?​

No, different vaccinations are required for COVID-19 and influenza (the flu).

The virus that causes coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, is different to the virus that causes the flu and causes a more severe illness. An annual winter flu vaccination through your doctor or immunisation provider can help to protect you from the flu and is still strongly recommended for all those eligible.

Can I receive the flu vaccination at the same time as my COVID-19 vaccination?

No, at this time the advice is that COVID-19 vaccines, and all other vaccines – including influenza – need to be given at least 14 days apart.

I have already had COVID-19, do I still need the vaccine?

Yes. You still need the COVID-19 vaccine if you’ve had COVID-19.

In the clinical trials of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, no specific safety issues were reported among people who had previously been infected with COVID-19.

Other information

Will the COVID-19 vaccination appear on Medicare Immunisation Registers?

Yes. Government Services Minister Stuart Robert has said anyone who received a coronavirus vaccine would have it recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register.

The record will then be made available on the MyGov website or the Express Plus Medicare app, where a person’s total immunisation history is listed, or a paper version can be printed out.

If I am not an Australian citizen will I be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine?

The Australian Government has made COVID-19 vaccines available free of charge for all Australian citizens, permanent residents and temporary visa holders.

Who do I contact if I have concerns regarding the COVID-19 vaccine?

The best person to talk to for advice about the COVID-19 vaccine is your doctor or healthcare provider.

I am afraid of needles, is there another way I can receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

No, the only way to administer the COVID-19 vaccine is through a needle. Please talk to your GP and let your immunisation provider know that you are afraid of needles when you attend your appointment.

Where can I find resources that provide COVID-19 vaccine information in other languages?

Information about COVID-19 vaccines is available from the Australian Government. Find information in your language at https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines.

Where can I find resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?

Information about COVID-19 vaccines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is available from the Australian Government. Find information at: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccination-common-questions-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-peoples

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