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.

Common side effects after the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine include:

  • injection site pain or tenderness
  • tiredness
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • fever and chills

Most side effects are mild and temporary, going away within 1-2 days.

As with any medicine or vaccine, there may be rare and/or unknown side effects.

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

Severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)

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.

Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome

Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) is rare and occurs around 4-26 days after vaccination. Symptoms can include abdominal pain and/or severe headache that does not settle with pain relief. People should seek medical attention immediately if they experience these symptoms:

  • a severe persistent headache with additional features:
    • appears at least 4 days after vaccination
    • does not improve with simple painkillers
    • may be worse when lying down or accompanied by nausea and vomiting
  • neurological symptoms such as:
    • blurred vision
    • difficulty with speech
    • drowsiness
    • seizures
  • shortness of breath or chest pain
  • a swollen leg
  • persistent abdominal (belly) pain
  • tiny blood spots under the skin away from the site of injection together with symptoms above.

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.

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)

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 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

Your health care professional (GP) or vaccination provider can report suspected side effects on your behalf.

It is possible to self-report any adverse events to SAEFVIC via:

It is important to remember that serious side effects are very rare and for people 50 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 weeks apart.

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 work with you to book your second dose of the vaccine. If you need to reschedule or cancel, please call 1800 675 398.

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.

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