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a vaccine vial and syringe with COVID spores

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has provisionally approved the Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) Zeneca COVID-19 vaccines for use in Australia. What does this mean for people with a disability and when will they be able to access the vaccine? Links to Easy Read and Auslan resources.

COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone in Australia. Vaccination in Australia is voluntary, and you can choose if you want to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

This information has been supplied by the Australian Government. 

The Australian government have Easy Read and Auslan resources on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. 

For Coronavirus Vaccine information in your language see SBS.

Skip to: Eligibility | COVID-19 vaccine appointments are available for children aged 5 – 11 from January 2022Vaccination CertificateCommon questions | More info 

Eligibility and registering for the vaccine.

You can check your eligibility on the COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker and also check your state/territory health department’s website for any additional eligibility requirements. The Eligibility checker will ask you to answer questions to find out where you can get a COVID-19 vaccination and book an appointment. You can do this for yourself or another person aged 16 or over.

People aged 12 to 15 are eligible to get vaccinated if they meet the following criteria: (See below for information on 5-11-year-olds.)

  • children with specified medical conditions
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
  • children in remote communities, as part of community outreach vaccination programs
  • National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participant, or people with a disability requiring frequent assistance with activities of daily living, including down syndrome, muscular dystrophy, traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, and severe intellectual disability.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommends the Pfizer (Comirnaty) vaccine as the preferred vaccine for people aged 12 to 59 years, but the Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) vaccine can also be provided to 18 to 59 year olds with their informed consent. Seek advice from your vaccine provider to decide if AstraZeneca is right for you.

Pfizer is recommended if you are:

  • pregnant 
  • 12 – 17 years of age.

AstraZeneca is not approved for people under 18 at this stage.

If you are unsure about your eligibility use the Eligibility Checker to find out when you can receive a vaccine. If you are eligible, you will be able to view vaccination locations and book an appointment.

Information Sourced From Information for people with disabilities about COVID-19 Vaccines and Who can get vaccinated for COVID -19.

COVID-19 vaccine appointments are available for children aged 5 – 11 from January 2022

All children aged 5 – 11 are eligible for vaccination.

Some children have an increased risk from COVID-19. This includes:

  • children aged 5-11 years with underlying conditions 
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
  • children living in crowded conditions or outbreak areas.

Children aged 5-11 years who have previously had COVID-19 can receive the vaccine once they have recovered from their illness. 

For people aged 5 – 11, consent is required from a parent or guardian at booking and at the appointment.

If the parent or guardian is unable to attend the appointment, a nominated accompanying adult can be identified during the booking process. 

See the https://www.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021-09/210924-COVID-19_vaccination_FAQs_for_parents_and_guardians.pdf)" data-entity-substitution="canonical" data-entity-type="linky" data-entity-uuid="7dea5252-3c3b-4d8f-9847-d2f85bf86f28" data-once="externalLink">Consent for COVID-19 Vaccination for further information. 

Get help

You might need help using the Eligibility Checker, as it does not meet accessibility standards for people with low vision or blindness. If you do, you can contact the Disability Gateway on 1800 643 787 or contact them via the National Relay Service (NRS) or Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS).

In the ACT 

To make an appointment at the Access and Sensory clinic please call the ACT COVID-19 Vaccination Booking Line on 02 5124 7700 (select option 3) between 7 am to 7 pm, daily.

The Access and Sensory clinic offers:
  • a quieter space
  • longer appointment times
  • a separate entrance so you don’t need to enter the waiting area
  • vaccinations for support staff, volunteers or carers attending the appointment at the same time as the person with disability*
  • an accessible entry point for wheelchairs and other mobility equipment.

Please communicate any other assistance you may need at the time of making the appointment.

The Access and Sensory clinic provide designated appointment times to support individual needs for people with disability and their support staff, volunteers and carers.

It’s entirely optional to use the clinic.

Alternatively, you may wish to make an appointment at a GP or at another ACT Government COVID-19 vaccination clinic to get your COVID-19 vaccination.

Further information on how to book your COVID-19 vaccination appointment is available on Booking your COVID-19 vaccination.

Vaccination Certificate

You can get an immunisation history statement or COVID-19 digital certificate to show proof of your vaccinations.

If you’re 14 or older, you’ll need to get your own immunisation history statement or digital certificate using either your:

If you’re not eligible for Medicare, you can still get your immunisation history statement online through myGov.

Common questions

Is the AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) Zeneca vaccine safe?

The AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) Zeneca vaccine will now only be recommended for use in people aged 60 and over after the federal government accepted new advice from the country's vaccine experts.  This recommendation is based on:

  • increasing risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 in older adults (and hence a higher benefit from vaccination), and
  • a potentially increased risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia following AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) Zeneca vaccine in those under 60 years.

The COVID-19 AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) Zeneca vaccine can be used in adults aged under 50 years where the benefits clearly outweigh the risk for that individual and the person has made an informed decision based on an understanding of the risks and benefits. The incident rate for this complication is extremely low but not insignificant. 

The AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) Zeneca vaccine has nonetheless been provisionally approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for people 18 years and older. Detailed information on the decision can be found on the TGA website.

AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) Zeneca will continue providing further data on safety, quality and effectiveness to the TGA.

As part of Australia’s COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Strategy, the Australian Government has secured 53.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) Zeneca vaccine, with 50 million to be manufactured onshore

If you are booked in for first dose AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) Zeneca Vaccine and are under 60 years old.

ATAGI made the recommendation to Government, that the type of vaccine for 50 - 59-year-olds, be the Pfizer vaccine. You can now change your appointment to a Pfizer vaccine. 

Vaccine clinics are now offering Pfizer to 50 - 59-year-olds.

From the 5th of July GP clinics across the country will be offering the Pfizer vaccine to 50- 59-year-olds.

I’ve had my first dose of AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) Zeneca, and have side effects that I am worried about, what should I do? 

From Australian Government Department of Health

For most vaccines the symptoms after the vaccine are quite mild, pain at the injection site, headache, fever, chills. These are short term side effects and resolve pretty quickly.

For thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome. TTS.

Manifests usually between days Days 4 - 28 after the first AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) Zeneca vaccine. The symptoms are a really severe headache, not managed with pain killers, sometimes blurred vision, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. 

If you have any of those symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

If you don't have those symptoms but are feeling a little unsure, do ask a health professional, or seek advice if you are concerned.

Why should I get vaccinated for COVID-19?

COVID-19 can cause serious ongoing health conditions, and sometimes death. Immunisation is a safe and effective way of protecting you and your family.

Immunisation helps protect you and others, especially people who may not be able to be immunised themselves. When you get immunised, you protect yourself as well as helping to protect the whole community.

When enough people in the community get immunised, it is more difficult for the virus to spread. This helps to protect you and people who are at more risk of getting the disease, including unvaccinated members of the community. This means that even those who are too young or too sick to be vaccinated will not encounter the disease. 

What if I am pregnant, breastfeeding or planning a pregnancy?

The government have a COVID-19 vaccination decision guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning a pregnancy.

What if I have an allergy?

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has published clinical advice on the use of COVID-19 vaccines.

They say people who are allergic to any of the ingredients in the COVID vaccines should seek expert advice, as should anyone who has an allergic reaction after the first dose of the COVID vaccine.

And if you have a history of anaphylaxis to any antigen (including food, insect stings, medicines) or if you have an adrenaline autoinjector (such as an EpiPen), you should let medical professionals know, and be monitored for 30 minutes after your vaccine.

What if I have an egg allergy?

Neither the Pfizer nor AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) Zeneca vaccines contain egg protein.

Is there anything in the vaccines I may be allergic to?

The Pfizer vaccine contains polyethylene glycol, so anyone with a confirmed or possible history of PEG allergy needs to get expert advice before being vaccinated.

AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) Zeneca contains an additive called Polysorbate 80 (which is also used in flu jabs), so have a chat with your doctor if you have previously had a reaction to it.

Why have COVID-19 vaccines been developed so quickly?

The urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic means that all available resources and efforts have been directed towards finding a safe and effective vaccine.

This has happened so quickly because:

  • funding and collaboration between vaccine developers and governments around the world at levels never seen before
  • advancements in technology that has allowed vaccines to be developed faster than in the past
  • clinical trials progressed more quickly because COVID-19 was widespread, so differences between vaccinated groups and unvaccinated groups could be detected sooner.

How do vaccines work?

Vaccines strengthen your immune system by training it to quickly remember and fight specific viruses or bacteria.

Vaccination involves receiving a vaccine from a needle or drops in the mouth by a trained health professional. A COVID-19 vaccine will be from a needle. This may hurt a little bit.

After vaccination, if you do catch the disease, it is likely your illness will be less severe.

Vaccines are a safe way to strengthen your immune system without causing illness.

Are there any side effects?

All medicines, including vaccines, have risks and benefits. Usually, any side effects are mild and may only last a few days.

Through clinical trials, some of the temporary side effects reported for COVID-19 vaccines are normal such as pain at the injection site, fever or muscle aches.

Do I have to get vaccinated?

COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone in Australia. Vaccination in Australia is voluntary, and you can choose if you want to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

It is possible that in the future, vaccination against COVID-19 might become a requirement for travel or for people working in certain high-risk workplaces like aged care. If this becomes the case, there will be exemptions in place for people who are unable to be vaccinated due to medical conditions.

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine and annual influenza (flu) vaccine?

Routine scheduling and giving a flu vaccine with a COVID-19 vaccine on the same day is not recommended. The preferred minimum interval between a dose of the seasonal flu vaccine and a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is 14 days.

You should talk to your health care professional for more information.

How far apart are the two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine?

The Pfizer doses are recommended 21 days apart.

The AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) Zeneca jabs are recommended 12 weeks apart.

If you miss the second dose, it's best to discuss this with your doctor who will likely book you in for your second appointment straight away.

Do I have to go to the vaccination appointment alone?

People with a disability can attend their vaccination appointment with whoever they feel most comfortable with. This could include a support worker, family member, carer or friend.

COVIDSafe practices will still be required to be observed including social distancing and masks if applicable depending on the location.

It is important to maintain COVIDSafe practices like staying 1.5 m apart (social distancing), wearing masks (especially in confined and busy spaces) and frequent and thorough hand washing.

In Victoria 

People with disabilities who need additional support to get a vaccination or who can’t attend a community-based setting can get help from Disability Liaison Officers.

To contact a Disability Liaison Officer for support, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and please provide the following information:

  • your contact details
  • the suburb that you live in and postcode
  • the name of your local council (if known)
  • information about why you need help and what sort of help you need.

More information about Disability Liaison Officers is available at https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/disability-liaison-officers

Can I still get coronavirus after I’ve had the vaccine?

Clinical trials have shown that the Pfizer, AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) Zeneca and Novavax vaccines protect against COVID-19 symptoms and severe disease after a person receives two doses.

We don’t have enough information to understand the long-term protection against COVID-19 after vaccination at this stage.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will continue to monitor the ongoing research to understand how the vaccines work over time. This is why it’s important that even you have been vaccinated, you should continue practising good hygiene, physical distancing and other COVIDSafe recommendations.

Can I infect someone else after I’ve had the vaccine?

We don’t have enough information from research to understand whether people who have been vaccinated can pass the virus onto others. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will continue to monitor the ongoing research to understand whether the vaccines can stop a person from passing the virus onto another person.

This is why it’s important that even you have been vaccinated, you should continue practising good hygiene, physical distancing and other COVIDSafe recommendations.

What about Support Worker Vaccination?

Vaccinations in Australia are voluntary, including the COVID-19 vaccine, and you have a choice over the people you employ to support you.

You can ask your disability service provider to encourage your support worker to be vaccinated against COVID-19. If the worker does not wish to be vaccinated, the service provider will need to consult with you to make alternative arrangements for your support if this is an issue for you. This may mean identifying another support worker for example.

Getting support if you choose not to be vaccinated against COVID-19

COVID-19 vaccines are voluntary and you can decide whether you want to be vaccinated or not.

If a disability service provider or support worker refuses to continue providing supports to you because you decided not to get the COVID-19 vaccine, it could be a breach of the NDIS Code of Conduct (NDIS Providers), In this case, a complaint can be made to the NDIS Commission.

What about consent for the COVID-19 vaccination?

If a person with a disability is not able to provide individual consent for the vaccine, a guardian or person responsible would make the decision. This guardian or person responsible must have all the necessary information to make an informed decision on behalf of the person with a disability.

This includes getting direct information from their GP about the suitability of treatment. To provide consent for some procedures a consent form must be completed, this is available here. If the person with a disability is getting the vaccination from their usual GP, consent may be provided over the phone instead. 

It is important to remember that the doctor cannot provide consent on behalf of the person with a disability unless no one else is available and they are the vaccine provider. 

For more information about medical consent, click here.

Disability Vaccination Hubs

Life Without Barriers has opened an accessible Vaccination Hub in Newcastle NSW.

The hub is specifically for people with disabilities who live in Supported Independent Living (SIL) and their support staff.

Need more information? 

For more information please contact the Disability Gateway or visit the Department of Health vaccine website or their COVID-19 vaccines - is it true? or their Information for People with Disability about COVID-19 vaccines page.

See the ABC's coverage on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout for a full breakdown of the rollout strategy and what you can expect during and after vaccination. 

A COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit for Disability Service Providers has been made by the Australian Government Department of Health. 

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