About COVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 is a severe and life threatening disease, caused by a virus that is easily spread from person to person.

There is no cure.

Having the COVID-19 vaccine and keeping your vaccination status up to date protects you, your family and your community.

How vaccines work

Vaccines work to strengthen a person’s immune system by training it to recognise and fight against specific germs that can cause serious illnesses, like COVID-19.

Vaccines insert weakened or inactivated virus into the body, so that the immune system can recognise these germs as being foreign and start to create antibodies to protect against future infection.

Vaccines are a safe way of triggering an immune response in the body without causing illness.

If you come into contact with the disease in the future, your body remembers it and your immune system works to protect you against hospitalisation and severe disease from COVID-19.

You are far less likely to catch a virus or disease if you have been vaccinated.

Immunisation not only protects you but protects your family and those in the community by reducing the spread of the virus.

Vaccines approved in Australia

The Therapeutic Goods Administration approves vaccines.

In the Northern Territory, the following COVID-19 vaccines are available:

  • Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
  • AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
  • Moderna COVID-19 vaccine
  • Novavax COVID-19 vaccine.

Speak to your health care provider or vaccination centre about what vaccines they have available.

How the vaccines were developed

There were no short cuts taken when making the vaccine.

Medical scientists collaborated across the world, significant funding was invested into the research and lots of people volunteered to take part in the trials.

All available resources and efforts have been directed towards finding an effective vaccine, due to the urgency of protecting people from the COVID-19 virus.

Read below for some of the reasons behind this rapid progress.

  • Unprecedented levels of funding and collaboration between vaccine developers and governments around the world. Planning has been undertaken early, such as investing in manufacturing facilities before a vaccine is even available.
  • Technology has evolved to make vaccine development faster than in the past. To develop a vaccine, scientists need to understand the virus’s genetic code. New technology has allowed researchers to quickly identify the genetic code of the COVID-19 virus, soon after the virus emerged. This allowed scientists around the world to start work in designing and building vaccines.
  • Clinical trials progress more quickly if a disease is widespread, which is the case for COVID-19. This means researchers can evaluate the effect of a vaccine between the unvaccinated and vaccinated groups much sooner than for a rare disease.

Vaccine ingredients

Ingredients for the COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Australia are listed on the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration website.

The approved COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any animal or egg products.

They don't use the live or whole virus that causes COVID-19 and the vaccine will not give you COVID-19.

Side effects

As with any vaccine, you may experience some side effects after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Side effects are normal and a good sign that the vaccine is working.

Common side effects include:

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

These side effects are usually mild and go away within one or two days.

If you experience pain at the injection site or fever, headaches or body aches after vaccination, you can take paracetamol or ibuprofen.

If there is swelling at the injection site, you can use a cold compress.

When to seek medical attention

You should seek medical attention after vaccination if you:

  • think you are having an allergic reaction
  • are worried about a potential side effect or have new or unexpected symptoms
  • are experiencing severe and on-going headaches
  • have experienced a side effect of the vaccine that has not gone away after a few days.

Call triple zero (000) if you experience severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, a fast heartbeat or collapsing.

For symptoms which are not urgent, you can see your regular healthcare provider.

Last updated: 10 August 2022

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Last updated: 10 August 2022