Australia Corona Virus

Vaccine questions: If I pay can I choose which jab to get in Australia? Can I travel afterwards?

As the vaccine rollout continues, we answer your biggest questions on whether you can travel, get the jab early or pay for the one you want.

As Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues, people are eager to find out whether they can travel after receiving it, if they can pay for the jab they want and how to book in for their injection.

News.com.au has asked the federal Department of Health to answer seven of your biggest questions.

1. Once people get their two vaccine doses, will they be allowed to go overseas?

Both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines require two doses for maximum effectiveness and some people hope they’ll be allowed to travel overseas once they’ve done this.

Currently Australians can’t travel overseas unless they are approved for an exemption including for urgent medical treatment, compassionate grounds or for business purposes.

But the Department of Health said restrictions on international travel would remain in place to protect the community from being exposed to the virus overseas and reduce the risk of those returning to Australia bringing it into the country, during the period when not everyone has had a chance to get the jab.

“While no formal decision has been made, the Government’s expectation would be that whilst COVID-19 continues to pose a significant threat to public health globally and within Australia, people coming to Australia will be required to undertake appropriate risk mitigations, which may include quarantine or vaccination, to minimise the risk to the community,” the department said.

“A vaccination is not viewed as a panacea or a complete substitute for other public health interventions; it is viewed as supplementary to other measures.

“If favourable data on vaccination continues to be published over time, then this may trigger a decision as to whether there should be a scale back of public health measures.”

There is no plan at this stage to allow those who have been vaccinated to travel overseas. Picture: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images
There is no plan at this stage to allow those who have been vaccinated to travel overseas. Picture: Antonio Masiello/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

2. Is it possible for people to apply to get their vaccine earlier due to personal circumstances (such as needing to travel overseas)?

In short: “There is no mechanism for individuals to apply for earlier access to vaccination”.

The Health Department says Australia’s rollout strategy ensures that those most likely to develop serious disease if they contract COVID-19 and those most likely to be exposed to the virus due to their occupation are prioritised for access to vaccination.

“The priority populations have been determined by the medical experts.”

3. Can people choose which vaccine to take?

There are two vaccines available to Australians at the moment: the AstraZeneca or Pfizer jab.

“Those wishing to be vaccinated will have access to whichever vaccine is available at that time, and will not be offered a preference of manufacturer,” the department said.

4. Can they choose if they are willing to pay for it?

“The government is committed to providing the vaccine free for everyone living in Australia,” the department said, and it “will not be accepting payment for any vaccination delivered through Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination program.”

The first batch of locally made AstraZeneca vaccine is shipped out on March 24 in Melbourne. Picture: Luis Ascui/Getty Images
The first batch of locally made AstraZeneca vaccine is shipped out on March 24 in Melbourne. Picture: Luis Ascui/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

5. If vaccines are safe, why do vaccine manufacturers have almost full indemnity against any damages their produce may cause?

The Health Department acknowledged the Australian Government had provided an indemnity to the suppliers of potential vaccine candidates, covering certain liabilities that could result from the use of the vaccine.

However, it points out that all medicines and vaccines can have side effects.

“In its evaluation of medicines and vaccines the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) analyses the risk and benefit profile of the product, and will only approve a product if the benefits to the patient outweigh the risks, which include any side effects a patient may experience.

“All medicines and vaccines can have side effects and these are detailed in both the Consumer Medicine Information and Product Information documents.

“If a safety concern is identified for a medicine or vaccine, the TGA can take regulatory action to ensure that the product continues to have acceptable safety, efficacy/performance and quality for its intended use.

“The TGA also seeks to ensure that health professionals and the public are aware of the safety concern and any changes to the availability and recommended use of the product.”

6. Will people with diabetes will be covered in phase 1b?

Yes, visit this link on priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination for more details on who is eligible in the first phase.

7. Who makes contact with those in phase 1b? Or should they just organise their jab themselves?

Australians can visit the Eligibility Checker to see if they are currently eligible for the vaccine, if they are, they can book a vaccine appointment at a GP or GPRC (General Practice-Led Respiratory Clinic) that suits them. GPs are encouraged to reach out to patients who are eligible in phase 1a and 1b.

If individuals require assistance checking their eligibility or finding a local vaccination provider are they can call the National Coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccination Helpline on 1800 020 080. This service is unable to book appointments, but can assist in answering questions about where and when individuals can get their jab.