Frequently Asked Questions


The Western Health Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are a summary of common questions and answers regarding the COVID-19 Vaccine and the COVID-19 Vaccination Hub being operated by Western Health. FAQs are based on the most up to date information available, and answers will be be updated as further information is available. References and recommended reading can be found at the end of this information.

Key messages:

  • Vaccination is free.
  • By being vaccinated you are helping to protect yourself, your family and your colleagues from serious COVID-19 health implications


What vaccines are used in Australia?

Four vaccines, the Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca/Oxford, Moderna/Spikevax, and Novavax/Nuvaxovid vaccines have all been approved by the Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA) for use in Australia. Approval has also been given for the AstraZeneca vaccine to be manufactured in Australia.

Click on the following links to review:

Before a COVID-19 vaccine is approved for use in Australia, it must pass the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) rigorous assessment and approval processes. This includes assessment of the vaccine’s safety, quality and effectiveness.

The TGA works with the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and is in contact with overseas vaccine regulators to monitor the use and safety of vaccines used in Australia. Advice from these groups informs Victorian and Federal Government direction on the safe use of COVID-19 vaccines in Australia.

You can contact the Federal Government’s COVID vaccine enquiries email if you have any questions about  the vaccines used in Australia.


What if I have had issues with other vaccines or I have a medical condition that increases risks associated with vaccination?

Your GP/other healthcare provider can provide advice or talk with you about personal risks you may have associated with COVID-19 vaccination.

Our Western Health Specialist Immunisation Clinic, which will support the provision of ambulatory care to high-risk vaccine recipients wanting to be administered the COVID-19 vaccination has commenced.  This Western Health Clinic, led by Dr Katherine Langan is an important milestone in allowing people who are identified as being high risk vaccination candidates to be reviewed and have plans developed to allow them to be safely vaccinated.


Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

No, the COVID-19 vaccine does not contain the COVID-19 virus. It is not possible to get COVID-19 from the vaccine as it does not contain any live virus.

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

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

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

How and where will the COVID-19 vaccine administration be registered/recorded?

The COVID-19 vaccine will be recorded on the Australia Immunisation Record (AIR). This is a national register that records vaccines given to all people in Australia. The AIR can be accessed via MyGov through your Medicare link. 

How is the COVID-19 vaccine administered?

The COVID-19 vaccine is administered via an intramuscular (IM) injection. The recommended injection site is the deltoid (upper arm).

The only way to administer the COVID-19 vaccine is through a needle. Please talk to your GP and let staff know if you are afraid of needles when you attend your appointment.

What is in the COVID-19 vaccines? 

In Australia, two types of vaccines have been approved, messenger RNA vaccines (Pfizer and  Moderna), a vector vaccine (AstraZeneca) and a protein-based vaccine (Novavax).

The following links include the ingredients list of each COVID-19 vaccine:




How do the vaccines work?

This information from the Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre (MVEC) provides an excellent overview of the COVID-19 vaccines.

The following are links from the MVEC site on both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines:


What is the process and timing for vaccinations?

It is important that you receive three doses of your COVID-19 vaccine.

The first two doses need to be given 8 weeks apart. A third dose is recommended for everyone aged 16 and over who received their second dose 3 or more months ago. A fourth dose is recommended for everyone aged 30 and over who received their third dose or had COVID-19 at least 3 months ago.

What if I can’t make my vaccine appointment?

Your appointment can be rescheduled. You should not attend a vaccination appointment if you are unwell with symptoms that could be from COVID-19, are awaiting COVID-19 test results, have tested positive with COVID-19, or are in quarantine or in close contact of someone with COVID-19.


How will I be monitored after receiving the vaccine?

The risks associated with a serious event occurring after receiving the COVID-19 vaccines are incredibly low. However to be safe, everybody that receives a COVID vaccine will be monitored in an observation areas for at least 15 minutes after receiving their dose.

What happens if I have anaphylaxis or another serious side effect?

The Vaccination Hub and Sub-Hubs are fully equipped with emergency equipment and medications, and have a medical officer and experienced nurse immunisers on site. Detailed medical emergency protocols are also be in place to ensure that a rapid response is enacted when required.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine cause scarring on the arm as a possible side effect?

Scarring at the vaccination site, such as was commonly associated with the smallpox vaccine, is not a reported side effect of the Pfizer/BioNTech or AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.


What are the common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

As part of regulatory assessment, the Therapeutic Goods Administration considers information about possible side effects. For a vaccine to be registered for use in Australia, the benefits must outweigh the risks. All vaccines can cause side effects. Usually any side effects are mild and temporary.

Clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines have reported temporary side effects typical of vaccines, such as pain or redness at the injection site, as well as mild to moderate fever, tiredness, headache, muscle aches and chills. For the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, these side effects may be more common after the second dose. For the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, these side effects may be more common after the first dose.

A small number of people may have more severe side effects – defined as side effects affecting a person’s ability to do their normal daily activities. These side effects usually only last a day or two after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Monitoring of vaccine-related side effects will continue after a COVID-19 vaccine has been registered.

Refer to the following documents for further information:

If you want to check any symptoms following your vaccination a vaccine side effects tracker has been released by the Australian Government


If you have side effects after your COVID-19 vaccination how will this affect your staff attestation and ability to work?

It is possible that after the receiving the vaccine that you will get some COVID-19-type symptoms, particularly after the second dose for the Pfizer vaccine and the first dose for the AstraZeneca vaccine.

If you just have pain or redness at the injection site, then you are able to work.

If you have a fever, temperature, tiredness, headache, muscle aches, chills or any other symptoms that are listed on your daily attestation survey in the 1-2 days after having the vaccine then it is most likely a side-effect. However while you have symptoms should not come to work. A protocol has been developed to help with decision making.

The following applies to Western Health Employees:

Where an employee receives the COVID-19 vaccination from 1 March 2021 onwards, and experiences an adverse event following immunisation (AEFI) of the COVID-19 vaccination, thus resulting in them being unfit to attend work, they will be eligible to receive:

  • Special Leave with Pay for a maximum of two (2) days’ per vaccination, with a total of four (4) days in total, per employee for 2021; and
  • Each employee is required to provide evidence in the form of a medical certificate to receive the entitlement

Special Leave Vacc COVID leave type will be available for Managers to enter where an employee is absent following the receipt of the COVID vaccination as a result of adverse events or experiencing symptoms.

Where this occurs for WH’s casual workforce, we request that an email be sent to outlining the employee’s number, employee full name, date of vaccination and rostered shift(s) accepted but unable to be fulfilled.

For all employees that received Personal Leave COVID vacc for an absence following their COVID vaccination, Payroll Services will be reversing a maximum of two (2) days entitlement per vaccination to Special Leave Vacc COVID reflective in your upcoming payslips.

In the instance where an employee utilised Personal Leave entitlements, a different approved leave or unpaid leave to cover their absence following the COVID vaccination, they will be required to:

  • Submit a written request to their direct Manager outlining the following information:
    • Employee Number
    • Employee Full Name
    • Date of COVID Vaccination
    • Date(s) of absences – maximum of two (2) days per COVID vaccination
  • Direct Manager will then be required to verify and email this information to for processing in the next available pay cycle.


Will you need a COVID swab if you become symptomatic post vaccination?

If you have any COVID-19-type symptoms that subside within 24 hours following receiving the vaccine, then you are able to safely return to work. If the symptoms do not subside after 24 hours or your symptoms start to include respiratory type symptoms (including cough, sore throat and runny nose), then please remain at home and get a COVID swab.


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

If you have a non-allergic reaction, for example if you faint, you can receive the second dose.

If you have a mild to moderate reaction you can still receive the second dose but must remain in the vaccination hub and under supervision for 30 minutes after your second dose.

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



How long does the COVID-19 vaccination effect last before you require anther one?

Data regarding the length of protection following vaccination is still being gathered from clinical trials. The length of protection is still unclear and hence the timing and need for a booster has not been established. Currently, no additional doses beyond the first two are recommended. It is possible that booster doses may be required in the future.

Do I still need to follow COVID-safe practices when I’ve had my vaccination?

Yes. Restrictions and guidelines regarding for example physical distancing and use of PPE still need to be followed following vaccination.


Immunisation Record

How do I update my immunisation record to reflect that I am fully vaccinated? 

Proof of vaccination is available in two ways, a COVID-19 digital certificate and an Immunisation history statement. A COVID-19 Digital Certificate will be issued when all required COVID-19 vaccinations have been received. Whereas if 1 dose has been received, this will only appear on the individuals Immunisation History Statement.

To access proof of vaccination, an individual can download a copy by accessing their myGov account. For more information, click here.


The West Metro COVID-19 Vaccination Hubs have now closed. 


Is there advice for staff that are currently pregnant or breastfeeding?

Global surveillance data from large numbers of people who are pregnant have not found any significant safety concerns with COVID-19 vaccines given at any stage of pregnancy. There is also evidence of antibody in blood and breastmilk, which may offer protection to infants through passive immunity.

People who are pregnant who contract COVID-19 have an increased risk of severe illness and adverse pregnancy outcomes. COVID-19 during pregnancy also increases the risk of complications for the baby.

International data has indicated mRNA vaccines – including Pfizer – are safe to be given at any stage during pregnancy and are also suitable for people who are breastfeeding.

The Australian Government’s advice remains unchanged for people trying to become pregnant and breastfeeding:  People who are trying to become pregnant do not need to delay vaccination or avoid becoming pregnant after vaccination. If you are breastfeeding, you can have the Pfizer vaccine. You do not need to stop breastfeeding after vaccination.

(Source: Australian Government 26 July 2021)

For more information on use of the vaccine in pregnancy and breastfeeding see: COVID-19 vaccination decision guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning pregnancy.



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:


Where can I find COVID-19 vaccine information 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 by clicking here.


Where can I find COVID-19 vaccine information for people with a Disability?

Information about COVID-19 vaccines for people with a disability is available from the Australian Government. Find information by clicking here.