These FAQs are for staff who have been identified in the priority groups to receive the COVID-19 vaccine through a NSW Health vaccination site during Phase 1a and 1b of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

This includes:

  • Quarantine facility workers
  • Border workers (airport and seaport)
  • Frontline health care workers:
    • COVID-19 clinic workers
    • Emergency department workers including support staff
    • NSW Ambulance clinical workforce including patient transport workers
    • COVID ward workers
    • Critical care workers including support staff
    • COVID pathology lab staff
    • COVID-19 immunisation clinic workers
  • Residential aged and disability care staff and residents (NSW Health including MPSs)
  • Other people prioritised in Phase 1b
The roll out to these staff will be staged over the coming weeks to align with vaccine supply availability

 

On this page

How can I access the COVID-19 vaccination?

To facilitate access to the vaccine during phase 1a and 1b, invitations for vaccination will be sent out to eligible staff in stages. Your invitation will be unique to you so please do not forward on. If you are identified as eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 1a or 1b, you will receive an email from NSW Health with information about what you need to do next.

Do I have to pay for the vaccine?

No. The COVID-19 vaccine is free.

Which vaccine will I receive?

You will be offered either the COVID-19 Pfizer (Comirnaty) vaccine or the COVID-19 Oxford/AstraZeneca (ChAdOx1-S) vaccine, depending on which vaccination clinic you are allocated to. You will not be able to choose which vaccine is offered to you. Both vaccines have been shown to be effective and extremely safe. Both vaccines are particularly effective in preventing people from becoming severely ill, needing hospitalisation or dying from COVID-19. For more information:

How do I book my vaccination appointment?

Staff eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination in Phase 1a or Phase 1b will be contacted directly in the coming weeks and informed about how, when and where they will be able to get vaccinated. Please follow the instructions in the email sent to you by NSW Health. A vaccination appointment will be scheduled for you and you will be notified of the details.

How will I know an appointment has been booked for me?

When your appointment has been scheduled you will receive an email confirming the booking. This email will include all relevant information including appointment details, a detailed COVID-19 vaccine information sheet, and the next steps.

Will transport be arranged for me to the COVID-19 vaccination clinic on the day of my appointment?

Your employer may provide transportation to a COVID-19 vaccination clinic. Please check with your employer.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory?

The COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory, but you are strongly encouraged to accept the offer of vaccination as it is an important measure to protect you, your family and the community from the effects of COVID-19.

What should I do if I have COVID-19 symptoms on the day of my vaccination appointment?

If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are mild, it is important that you get tested immediately and self-isolate until you get a negative result. You must notify your employer as soon as possible. Your employer will organise a rescheduled booking and you will be contacted with a future booking time and day depending on availability, once you have recovered.

What should I do if I am sick in the days after my vaccination?

If you have any respiratory symptoms, such as a cough, sore throat, runny or blocked nose, loss of taste or smell, or breathlessness, it is important that you get tested immediately and self-isolate until you get a negative result. If you have any general symptoms, such as pain/swelling at injection site, redness at injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle or joint pain, chills or fever, or nausea, stay home if you feel unwell. You do not need to get tested for COVID-19 unless:

 

  • you have any of the respiratory symptoms, such as a cough or sore throat, or
  • the general symptoms last longer than 48 hours after your first or second dose, or
  • your general symptoms are more severe than expected after vaccination. or
  • you are told that you have been in contact with a case of COVID-19 and are asked to be tested by public health.

If you cannot attend work due to illness, you should follow your employer’s normal protocol for advising of your absence. You may be entitled to sick leave if this is included in your employment arrangement.

Can I reschedule my vaccination appointment?

If you are unwell or cannot attend your scheduled vaccination appointment for other reasons, you must notify your employer as soon as possible. Your appointment will be rescheduled. Employers will be asked to have a standby staff list, so cancelled appointments can be filled.

Can I get an earlier appointment if other people cancel?

Some people may have to cancel their vaccination appointment at short notice for reasons including needing a COVID-19 test because they have symptoms. In these circumstances, your employer may contact you to ask if you are available to bring forward your vaccination appointment. This helps NSW Health ensure all vaccine doses can be used on the day and we can avoid vaccine wastage.

Do I need to wear a face mask when I go to get vaccinated?

NSW Health strongly encourages you to wear a face mask during your time at the COVID-19 vaccination clinic, including while queueing.

What if I have a reaction after being vaccinated?

Health professionals will observe everyone at the COVID-19 vaccination clinic after their vaccination. If you have a history of adverse reactions to vaccinations, you can expect to be observed for a slightly longer time. You will only be permitted to leave the clinic if you are not showing any signs of an adverse reaction. You should expect to be at the vaccination clinic for up to 1.5 hours. This includes registration, vaccination and observation. For more information about potential side effects and what to expect following vaccination, please read the:

If you think you are experiencing a medical emergency after leaving the vaccination clinic, you should present to an emergency department or call Triple Zero (000).

Can my family also receive the vaccine?

As doses will initially be limited, the vaccine will be first made available only to people who belong to the priority groups for the relevant vaccination rollout phase. If your family member is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as part of a priority group, they will be contacted directly.

Can I choose which clinic I get vaccinated at?

You will be allocated to a COVID-19 vaccination clinic by your employer and you must go to the location where your appointment is booked. This is very important because each vaccination clinic has the correct number of doses of vaccine for the people who are allocated to that location. If you are not able to travel to your designated vaccination clinic, please discuss your individual circumstances with your employer. More vaccination sites will become available in the following weeks and months.

Can I get vaccinated earlier if I am willing to travel to Sydney?

You need to be vaccinated at the COVID-19 vaccination clinic, including regional clinics (satellite sites), you have been allocated to. Each clinic will have been allocated the correct number of doses of vaccine for the people who are booked to attend that location.

Can I have my two doses at different clinics?

You need to be vaccinated at the COVID-19 vaccination clinic where you are allocated. While this may be a different site once more clinics are set up, at this stage you must return to the same vaccination clinic for your second dose.

​How will the vaccines be safely stored and managed at the regional and rural clinics (satellite sites)?

Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines are safely stored in Ultra-Low Temperature (ULT) freezers capable of achieving temperatures of -85 degree Celsius. The ULT freezers are equipped with a range of features to ensure vaccines are stored safely, including Real Time Temperature Monitoring systems.

Some regional clinics will be supplied with ULT freezers and supporting cold chain gear to ensure they have the necessary equipment to safely store and manage the Pfizer vaccines ahead of them being thawed and used. Other clinics will have thawed Pfizer vaccine transported to them.

Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines can be stored and transported at normal vaccine refrigeration temperatures of 2 degrees to 8 degrees Celsius.

 

What should I do if I think I'm supposed to be in Phase 1a but have not yet received a vaccination offer?

COVID-19 vaccines will be offered in phases. The first phase is vaccinating high priority groups including quarantine and border workers, frontline healthcare workers at particular risk of exposure to COVID-19, and residents and staff in aged and disability care facilities. People identified to receive the COVID-19 vaccination in Phase 1a or 1b will be contacted directly over the coming weeks and informed about how, when and where they will be able to get vaccinated. Phase 1b will now be run together with Phase 1a in some locations. If you believe you are eligible in Phase 1a or 1b and have not been contacted, please discuss your individual circumstances with your employer.

Will the vaccine be effective against new variants?

The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will continue to closely monitor developments in relation to the SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. Recent evidence from real-world vaccination program rollouts is showing that both the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and the Pfizer vaccine are effective against the B1.1.7 variant of concern that is circulating in the United Kingdom and Israel.

What should I do if I've had COVID-19?

The vaccine clinical trials included some previously infected people (who had a blood test showing past infection). These people responded to the vaccine well. They had a good immune response and had similar mild and expected side effects to people who weren’t previously infected.

If you have previously been diagnosed with COVID-19, you should talk to your healthcare provider about the best time to have a COVID-19 vaccination.

Current as at: Friday 9 April 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW