Frequently asked questions
COVID-19 can cause serious ongoing health conditions, and sometimes death.
Having the COVID-19 vaccine and getting immunised will help you protect yourself, your family and your community.
Territorians have a great record of being immunised and some of the highest rates in the country. The COVID-19 vaccine will be voluntary and free.
You will receive the vaccine available at time of your appointment. The AstraZeneca vaccine is recommended for people over 50 years of age. The Pfizer vaccine is recommended for people under 50 years of age.
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 quickly stop the disease from developing.
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.
Ingredients for the COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Australia are listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.
There is no formaldehyde or toxic substances in the approved COVID-19 vaccines.
Active ingredient (main ingredient):
- BNT162b2 [mRNA]
Other ingredients (inactive ingredients):
- ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate) (ALC-0315)
- 2-[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide (ALC-0159)
- distearoylphosphatidylcholine (DSPC)
- potassium chloride
- monobasic potassium phosphate
- sodium chloride
- dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate
- water for injections
Active ingredient (main ingredient):
- One dose (0.5 mL) contains 5x1010 viral particles of (ChAdOx1-S a, b)
Other ingredients (inactive ingredients):
- histidine hydrochloride monohydrate
- sodium chloride
- magnesium chloride hexahydrate
- disodium edetate (EDTA)
- ethanol absolute
- polysorbate 80
- water for injections
The vaccine is given by an injection into your upper arm by a health professional who has been trained in giving the COVID-19 vaccine.
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
- muscle pain
- 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.
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 are experiencing severe and on-going headaches
- You have experienced a side effect of the vaccine that has not gone away after a few days.
For symptoms which are not urgent, you can see your regular healthcare provider.
The COVID-19 vaccines have been tested and approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for use in Australia, and have proven to be effective in protecting adults against COVID-19.
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine requires two doses, three weeks apart.
The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine requires two doses, three months apart.
You will need two doses of the same vaccine to make sure you have the best protection.
Getting the vaccine will keep you, your family, friends and community safe from COVID-19.
It will save lives, keep Territorians in jobs and get life back to normal sooner.
The COVID-19 vaccine reduces the community’s risk of COVID-19 outbreaks. The more people that have the vaccine, the safer we will be.
We reach ‘herd immunity’ when enough people are immunised to stop or slow the circulation of the disease across the community. This reduces the likelihood of infection, which then affords protection for people who can’t be vaccinated.
Experts believe a herd immunity of 65 percent or higher will be needed for COVID-19, but we cannot be certain at this stage.
This year, you will need 3 vaccines to stay healthy – 1 flu vaccine and 2 COVID-19 vaccines. A two week gap is recommended between getting the COVID-19 vaccination and the flu vaccination. If it isn’t your turn to get the COVID-19 vaccine yet, get your flu vaccine first.
It is recommended you wait two weeks between getting the flu jab and the COVID-19 vaccine.
Advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) is that it doesn’t matter which vaccine you receive first.
The best thing you can do is to stay up-to-date with the latest information using reputable sources.
The Australian Government will regularly be providing information along with NT Health and SecureNT.
For more information visit Australian Government Department of Health website or call the National COVID-19 Helpline 1800 020 080
The COVID-19 vaccine is being rolled out in stages as part of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine national roll-out strategy.
Most Territorians will receive the vaccine in the second half of the year.
You can use the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility checker to see when you are eligible to get the vaccine.
Until everyone is vaccinated, it is important to continue practising good hygiene, physical distancing, staying at home when sick and getting tested when displaying any symptoms.
The general community is able to get their COVID-19 vaccine by booking an appointment at an approved GP clinic.
Aboriginal adults can get the vaccine by contacting their local Aboriginal Health Clinic by phone or by walking in or at a participating GP clinic.
NT Health is providing the vaccine to Aboriginal people in communities where it is the primary health care provider.
Public health professionals and police, fire or emergency services workers will be contacted by their employer about receiving the vaccine.
For more information visit the Australian Government Department of Health website or call the National COVID-19 Helpline 1800 020 080
The COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary but strongly encouraged.
It is possible, that in the future, vaccination against COVID-19 might become a requirement for travel to certain destinations or for people working in high risk workplaces. If this becomes the case, there will be exemptions in place for people who are unable to be vaccinated.
The COVID-19 vaccine is free for all adults living in Australia including permanent residents and temporary visa holders.
The COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for all adults over the age of 18 years.
The Territory’s vaccine strategy is guided by the COVID-19 vaccine national roll out strategy.
This is the largest and most complex vaccine rollout ever seen in Australia.
We are working with the Australian Government and our Aboriginal and community health partners, to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine to all Territorians.
Aboriginal people are included in upcoming priority groups and will be able to get their vaccine through local health clinics when it’s their turn.
You can have someone attend your vaccination appointment for support. This can be a family member, carer, friend or support worker.
Your vaccination information will be recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register.
Australians can access their immunisation history statement through Medicare for proof of vaccination both digitally and in hard copy, if required.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, think you may be pregnant, or are planning to have a baby, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice before you receive this vaccine.
Currently the vaccine is only available through the national phased roll out, people have been grouped by priority. The priority groups have been determined by the Australian Government, based on advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). The priority groups are categorised by the group’s risk of exposure to COVID-19 and their risk of severe disease.
The prioritisation of these groups ensures those who are at the highest risk of exposure to COVID-19 or who are at the highest risk of a severe disease are offered the first opportunity to be protected against COVID-19.
Details about the roll out, including locations, will be widely shared with the public.
Information will be available on the NT COVID-19 website, through your local GP or health clinic, community groups and the media.
Medical experts recommend all eligible adults aged 50 years and over to get the AstraZeneca vaccine.
For people aged over 50, the risks of getting severe COVID-19 disease are considered to be of greater risk than getting the vaccination, which has a very low risk of severe side effects. You can chat with your health care provider about your personal situation.
The Pfizer vaccine is preferred for eligible adults under 50 years old who have not already had a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
If you have had your first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine without any serious side effects, you should receive your second dose of AstraZeneca as planned.
If you have had your first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine without any serious side effects, you should receive your second dose of AstraZeneca as planned. It is recommended that a second dose is given about 12 weeks after the first dose.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration is responsible for regulating vaccines in Australia and has strict requirements including a rigorous testing, assessment and approvals process.
There will be different types of the vaccine available, but every vaccine delivered in Australia has to be rigorously tested and approved by experts first.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved both the Pfizer vaccine and the AstraZeneca vaccine for use in Australia.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is recommended for people over 50 years of age.
The Pfizer vaccine is recommended for people under 50 years of age.
There is evidence of a link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and an extremely rare blood clotting syndrome (thrombosis with thrombocytopenia).
The recommendation from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) is that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is preferred for adults under 50 years old who have not already had a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
People who have had their first dose the AstraZeneca vaccine without any serious adverse effects can be given their second dose. This includes adults under 50 years of age.
People who have had blood clots associated with low platelet levels after their first dose of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca should not be given their second dose.
If you have recently had your first vaccine dose and are experiencing any side effects that you are worried about, you should book an appointment to see your doctor.
The COVID-19 vaccines being used in Australia have been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and are administered under the advice of the COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatments for Australia – Science and Industry Technical Advisory Group and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).
Before any vaccine is approved for use in Australia, including a COVID-19 vaccine, it must pass the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s rigorous assessment and approval processes. This includes assessment of its safety, quality and effectiveness.
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.
Some of the reasons behind this rapid progress include:
- 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.
The approved COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any animal or egg products.
No, the vaccines available do not use the live or whole virus that causes COVID-19 and will not give you COVID-19.
Personal behaviour remains our best defence against COVID-19 until everyone is vaccinated. Keep practicing good hygiene, apply physical distancing, stay at home when sick and get tested when displaying any symptoms.
The Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines protect against COVID-19 symptoms and severe disease after a person receives two doses.
At this stage, there is not enough information to understand the long term protection against COVID-19 after vaccination. Booster doses may be required, similar to other vaccinations, such as the flu vaccine.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration will continue to monitor the ongoing research to understand how the vaccines work over time. This is why it’s important that even if you have been vaccinated, you should continue practising good hygiene, physical distancing, and staying home if you are unwell.