After your COVID-19 vaccination

What to expect after your vaccination.

Side effects of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

As with any vaccine, you may have some temporary side effects after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. For the latest information on what to expect after vaccination, you can read the After your AstraZeneca vaccination information sheet.

Common side effects after vaccination with AstraZeneca include:

  • pain, swelling, tenderness, redness or itching at the injection site
  • tiredness
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • nausea
  • fever and chills
  • feeling unwell
  • joint pain.

Less common side effects after vaccination with AstraZeneca include:

  • pain in limb
  • dizziness
  • decreased appetite
  • stomach pain.

These side effects are usually mild. They occur in around two-thirds of people who are vaccinated, start within a day after the vaccination and go away within one or two days.

Some people will have more significant flu-like symptoms from this vaccination compared to other vaccines and may require time away from normal activities. These symptoms are more common after the first dose compared with the second dose.

If you have pain at the injection site, fever, headaches or body aches in the first 1–2 days after vaccination, you can take paracetamol. This helps to reduce some of the above symptoms. You do not need to take paracetamol or ibuprofen before vaccination. If there is swelling at the injection site, you can use a cold compress.

Rare side effects that have been reported after the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination are:

  • Severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)
    • Anaphylaxis after vaccination with AstraZeneca is very rare. The rate in Australia
      appears similar to any other vaccine.
  • A condition called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), which involves
    blood clotting (thrombosis) and low platelet levels (thrombocytopenia)

    • Information from Australia and overseas shows that TTS is a rare condition
    • The blood clots can occur at different parts of the body, including the brain and the abdomen (belly).
    • The low level of blood platelets can cause bleeding.
    • The symptoms of this condition occur around 4 to 42 days after vaccination.
    • People with this condition are very unwell and need to go to hospital.
    • More information on TTS can be found in the Patient information sheet on AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and TTS.

You should seek medical attention after vaccination if:

  • You think you are having an allergic reaction. Call 000 if you experience severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, a fast heartbeat or collapsing.
  • You have an expected side effect of the vaccine that has not gone away after a few days.
  • You have any of the following symptoms, particularly around 4 to 42 days after vaccination:
    • headache that persists beyond 48 hours after vaccination, or appears later than
      48 hours after vaccination. Simple painkillers may alleviate headache initially, but it persists
    • blurred vision
    • weakness of face or limbs
    • confusion or seizure
    • shortness of breath
    • chest pain
    • persistent abdominal (belly) pain
    • leg swelling
    • pin-prick rash or bruising not at the injection site that cannot be explained.

Be sure to tell your doctor or healthcare provider that you have recently received the vaccine.

For symptoms which are not urgent, you can see your regular healthcare provider (usually your GP).

Side effects of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

As with any vaccine, you may have some temporary side effects after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. For the latest information about what to expect, you can read the After your Pfizer vaccination information sheet.

Common side effects after the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine include:

  • pain or swelling at the injection site
  • tiredness
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • fever and chills
  • joint pain

Less common side effects after the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine include:

  • redness at the injection site
  • nausea
  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • feeling unwell
  • pain in limb
  • insomnia
  • itching at the injection site

These side effects are usually mild and usually go away within one or two days. Some recipients will experience more significant flu-like symptoms from this vaccination compared to other common vaccinations and may require time away from normal activities. These symptoms may occur after either dose but are more common after the second dose.

If you experience pain at the injection site or fever, headaches or body aches after vaccination, you can take paracetamol or ibuprofen. These help to reduce some of the above symptoms (you do not need to take paracetamol or ibuprofen before vaccination). If there is swelling at the injection site, you can use a cold compress.

Rare side effects that have been reported after the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are:

  • severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)
  • myocarditis and pericarditis. Most reported cases have been mild, self-limiting and recovered quickly, although longer-term follow-up of these cases is ongoing. Cases have been reported predominantly after the second dose and predominantly in younger males (aged < 30 years)

You should seek medical attention after vaccination if:

  • you think you are having an allergic reaction. Call 000 if you experience severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, a fast heartbeat or collapsing
  • you have chest pain, pressure or discomfort, irregular heartbeat, skipped beats or ‘fluttering’, fainting, shortness of breath or pain with breathing
  • you are worried about a potential side effect or have new or unexpected symptoms
  • you have an expected side effect of the vaccine which has not gone away after a few days

Be sure to tell your doctor or healthcare provider that you have recently received the vaccine.

For symptoms which are not urgent, you can see your regular healthcare provider (usually your GP).

Reporting side effects

You can report suspected side effects to your vaccination provider or other healthcare professional such as your GP. They will then make a formal report on your behalf to your state or territory health department or directly to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

If you would prefer to report yourself, please visit the TGA website and follow the directions.

It is important to remember that serious side effects are very rare and for people 60 years and over, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) continues to advise that the benefit of vaccination with AstraZeneca COVID vaccine outweighs the risks associated with vaccination.

Remember your second appointment

Two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines are required to give the best protection.

For the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, these can be safely administered 4-12 weeks apart (12 weeks is the recommended gap).

For the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, these can be safely administered at least 3-6 weeks* apart. *On 2 August 2021, Victorian State Vaccination Centres moved to a minimum 6 weeks between Pfizer doses to ensure as many Victorians could access the first dose of the vaccine as possible and thus gain some protection. The change is consistent with the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation Clinical Guidelines.

The second dose of either vaccine is likely to prolong the duration of protection against COVID-19.

At the end of your first appointment, the team will indicate the timing for your second dose of the vaccine. Find out how to book.

To continue to keep yourself and others protected, remember to continue your COVID-safe habits such as maintaining physical distance, hand washing or sanitising, checking in at public places and wearing a mask when required to do so, even after vaccination.

How the information you provide at your appointment is used

For information on how your personal details are collected, stored and used, please visit: https://www.health.gov.au/covid19-vaccines.

Vaccination is strictly by appointment only for all vaccine types. Please make a booking to avoid disappointment.Learn more
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