COVID-19 vaccine safety and side effects

All available vaccines undergo rigorous testing by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) (external site) to ensure they are safe before being made available to people in Western Australia. The Australian Government is responsible for selecting and purchasing vaccines.

Further information on COVID-19 vaccines including their safety is available on:

COVID-19 vaccine side effects

The COVID-19 vaccine side effect checker can be used if you have had a COVID-19 vaccination and think you may be experiencing side effects. If you are feeling unwell or have concerns, contact your GP or usual medical practitioner. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call triple zero (000).

The most common side effects after COVID-19 vaccination are usually mild and include:

  • pain, redness and/or swelling where you received the needle
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • muscle and/or joint ache
  • mild fever.

When they occur, these symptoms typically start within 24 hours of vaccination, last one to two days, and resolve without treatment.

These types of reactions are often a sign that your immune system is responding to the vaccine and helping to teach your body how to fight off COVID-19 if you are later exposed to the virus.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (CSANZ) have recently updated the Guidance on Myocarditis and Pericarditis after COVID-19 Vaccinations (external link). 

Myocarditis and/or pericarditis are rare side effects that have been associated with all brands of COVID-19 vaccine currently used in Australia. The available data suggests the risk is higher after an mRNA vaccine and is greater following Spikevax (Moderna) compared to Comirnaty (Pfizer).

Myocarditis refers to inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis refers to inflammation of the thin sac that surrounds the heart. These conditions can occur separately or together (myopericarditis). Myocarditis and pericarditis are seen in the general population from a variety of causes, and not all cases that occur after vaccination are necessarily caused by the vaccine.

Pericarditis and myocarditis after COVID-19 vaccines have been mostly reported in males aged 16-40 years of age, and mostly after the second dose. However, these conditions do occur in both females and males, at any age, and after any dose, including a third or fourth dose.

If you are concerned about your risk of myocarditis please discuss your choice of vaccine with your GP/vaccine provider.

Vaccination remains the best way to protect against COVID-19 and its related complications. Leaving 8 weeks between your doses of mRNA vaccine may reduce your risk of myocarditis and pericarditis.

Most individuals have a higher risk of complications (including myocarditis/pericarditis) from COVID-19 infection than from a vaccination.

For details on the possible side effects of each vaccine, see:

When to seek help

Serious reactions like allergic reactions are extremely rare. If you have a reaction that is unexpected, or if you are unsure, consult with your GP.

If you believe your reaction is severe or life-threatening you should call triple zero (000) for an ambulance or go to your closest emergency department.

Contact your doctor or health care professional or go directly to a hospital if you have:

  • a reaction that you consider severe or unexpected
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • swelling in your leg
  • persistent abdominal (belly) pain
  • severe and persistent headaches, blurred vision, or other neurological symptoms
  • tiny blood spots under the skin that are not at the site of injection.

Reporting COVID-19 vaccine side effects

Any reactions causing you concern, whether minor or serious, should be reported to the Western Australian Vaccine Safety Surveillance (WAVSS) system (external site).

Your immunisation provider, GP or other health professional should report all suspected significant reactions, but you can also do it yourself on the WAVSS reporting website (external site).

Additionally, you may receive a follow-up SMS or email survey (if consented at the time of vaccination) to ask if you have experienced any potential side effects from your COVID-19 vaccination. You are encouraged to reply to the survey and contribute to vaccine safety monitoring in Australia.

Last reviewed: 01-11-2022

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.