COVID-19 & THE VACCINE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

For the latest information on the vaccine roll-out and COVID-19 impacts on your health cover, we’ve pulled together the most asked questions by our members with the help of the Australian Government Department of Health.

Why is it important to get vaccinated?

Vaccines strengthen your immune system by training it to remember and fight specific germs, so if you do catch the disease or virus, your illness is likely to be less severe. Getting vaccinated means, you’re not only helping to protect yourself, but also your loved ones and the community.

How do we know the COVID-19 vaccines are effective?

The COVID-19 vaccines have been approved by Australia’s immunisation experts, Therapeutic Goods Administration. All available vaccines have been thoroughly tested for safety in clinical trials, including careful analysis of clinical trial data, ingredients, chemistry, manufacturing and other factors.

Which COVID-19 vaccines are recommended in Australia?

There are currently 3 COVID-19 vaccines available in Australia that have been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. These are:

  1. Pfizer vaccine
  2. Astrazeneca vaccine
  3. Moderna vaccine

The vaccine you receive will depend on:

  • when and where you will be vaccinated and
  • the clinical guidelines that determine who each vaccine is safe for.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine free?

The COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone in Australia, including non-Australian citizen or permanent resident, overseas visitors, international students, migrant workers and asylum seekers. GPs are not allowed to charge you to administer the vaccine.

Am I eligible to get vaccinated?

The Australian Government wants everyone in Australia to have access to a safe COVID-19 vaccine, if they choose to be vaccinated. The government operated Government Vaccine Eligibility Checker allows you to check your vaccine eligibility.

Where can I get vaccinated?

The government operated COVID-19 vaccine Government Vaccine Eligibility Checker lets you check when and where you can receive a vaccine.

Who's eligible for a COVID-19 booster vaccine?

The COVID-19 booster vaccine is available to everyone aged 18 years and over who've had both doses of their primary course of a COVID-19 vaccine at least 4 months ago. The ATAGI aren't currently recommending booster doses for people aged 12 to 17 years or those who are severely immunocompromised and have already had a third dose.

What's the benefits of a COVID-19 booster dose?

According to ATAGI, current evidence suggests that immunity to COVID-19 (measured by virus-specific antibody) wanes, and there is a reduction in protection against infection following vaccination over time. Administration of a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose after completion of the primary vaccine course has been demonstrated to augment immune responses and is anticipated to increase protection.

What COVID-19 vaccine types are available for booster doses?

Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are approved by the TGA and recommended by ATAGI as a COVID-19 booster dose. You can have the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine as a booster dose regardless of which type of vaccine you received for your first 2 doses. You can also receive the AstraZeneca vaccine if you can’t have the Pfizer vaccine for medical reasons or had 2 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine previously. Read ATAGI’s advice on the type of vaccine recommended for booster doses.

I’m pregnant, can I still get vaccinated?

If you’re pregnant, you’re eligible for the COVID-19 Pfizer or Moderna vaccination at any stage of pregnancy. If you’re trying to get pregnant or are breastfeeding, you can also receive the vaccine. Always talk to your doctor if you have concerns or questions about receiving the vaccine whilst pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to become pregnant.

Can children receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been provisionally approved by the TGA for all children aged 12 to 15. The TGA has also provisionally approved the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 years. Bookings are currently available, with appointments starting from 10 January 2021.

You can book your child’s appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine through GPs, vaccination clinics and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations. Each state and territory have different eligibility requirements, so it’s advised you check your child’s eligibility and make a booking with the Government Vaccine Eligibility Checker.

Will my child experience side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine?

Just like adults, it’s possible your child might notice pain at the injection site on their upper arm and feel more tired than usual following their vaccination. They may also experience headaches, achy muscles or joints, and even fever and chills. It’s important to know that these side effects are usually temporary and generally clear up within 48 hours. Make sure you check in with your doctor or go directly to the hospital, if:

  • your child has a reaction that you consider severe or unexpected
  • you are concerned about your child’s condition after vaccination.

What are the likely side effects from COVID-19 vaccines?

All medicines, including vaccines, have risks and benefits. Usually, any side effects are mild and may only last a few days. Some of the normal temporary side effects for COVID-19 vaccines include pain at the injection site, fever or muscle aches. Some people will experience flu-like symptoms from the COVID-19 vaccine. Make sure you check in with your doctor or go directly to the hospital, if:

  • you have a reaction that you consider severe or unexpected
  • you are concerned about your condition after vaccination.

Will I be covered for hospital treatment for any adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine?

As the COVID-19 outbreak in Australia worsens, we’d like to reassure you that our HCF hospital covers* will provide you with peace of mind that you’re covered should you need to be hospitalised due to COVID-19 and that you’re also covered in the highly unlikely event you have an adverse reaction or side-effect from the vaccine that requires hospitalisation. If you have any questions regarding your cover, contact us at www.hcf.com.au/contact-us.

Are HCF Branches, Dental and Eyecare Centres still open?

Like so many businesses, we’re bound by the latest government advice around COVID-19 restrictions and are continuously making sure we’re putting our employees and members’ health and safety first. Go to our Service Updates page for more information.

Can my elective surgery still go ahead?

Whilst non-urgent elective surgeries are temporarily postponed in some states, emergency surgery and urgent elective surgery will continue. Please contact your treating specialist to seek advice and to check if your surgery can go ahead.

What happens if I can't pay premiums or if I've lost my job?

We have financial relief options in place for members who need some help during these uncertain times. If you’re seeking guidance on the options available, call us on 13 13 34. Our customer care team are here to help Monday to Friday, 8am-8pm and Saturday, 9am-5pm (AEST/AEDT).

Where can I find the latest information regarding COVID-19?

For the latest information:

Important Information

FAQs last updated in 18 January 2022.

*Some claims from Overseas Visitors Health Cover members are excluded. Overseas Visitors Health Cover members should check their product information to see if they’re covered, click here for more information.