Everyone in Australia 12 years of age and over can have a free COVID-19 vaccine at participating pharmacies, doctors’ clinics, and government clinics. While more than 80 per cent of people in Australia aged 16 and over are now fully vaccinated with two doses, there is still misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. Read on to find out about COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy, how and where you can get vaccinated and to learn more about the importance of maintaining good hygiene and physical distancing.
Is it safe to get vaccinated if I am pregnant, planning to start a family or breastfeeding?
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) are the scientists and medical experts who regulate and approve all vaccines, medicines and other medical products for use in Australia. The TGA has approved Comirnaty (Pfizer) and Spikevax (Moderna) vaccines for pregnant and breastfeeding women and those planning a pregnancy.
The risk of getting serious side effects from COVID-19 and needing intensive care is higher for pregnant women and their unborn baby. Vaccination is the best way to reduce these risks.
A study from the United States of more than 35,000 pregnant women showed that vaccination does not increase the chances of complications such as premature delivery, stillbirth, and birth defects. Scientific evidence suggests that the antibodies created by pregnant women after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine can cross the placenta, particularly in women vaccinated early in pregnancy who received both doses before their baby was born. These antibodies may provide the baby with some protection against COVID-19 for the first few months of life.
For people wanting to start a family, getting vaccinated before conceiving means you are likely to have protection against COVID-19 throughout your pregnancy. Getting vaccination does not affect fertility or your chances to conceive.
What are the next steps if you have just arrived in Australia after being partly or fully vaccinated overseas?
If you have received an approved vaccine while overseas, you can have it recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) upon returning to Australia, provided your documents are in English. It will then appear on your immunisation history statement (IHS).
If your vaccination documents are not in English, you can get them translated. The Department of Home Affairs website has a free translating service which you can use. Find out more at translating.homeaffairs.gov.au.
The approved vaccines that are recognised in Australia are: AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Sinova Coronavac, Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV, Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine, and Bharat Biotech Covaxin.
If you have not been vaccinated with the above approved vaccines, you do not meet Australia’s definition for being fully vaccinated.
If you have only had your first dose of any of these vaccines, you can book to have your second dose at a participating pharmacy, doctors’ clinics, or government clinic. If it has been more than 6 months since you had your second dose, you are eligible to take a booster shot.
Remember to continue washing your hands regularly – and maintain cough and sneeze hygiene and physical distancing. You may still be required to wear a mask in some locations. If you have any symptoms such as a sore throat, runny nose, cough or fever, get tested and stay at home until you receive a negative test result.
To book your COVID-19 vaccine or booster dose appointment, visit australia.gov.au, or call 1800 020 080. For interpreting services, call 131 450.
(Authorized by the Australian Government, Canberra.)