About the COVID-19 vaccines
The Pfizer/BioNTech Coronavirus vaccine (BNT162b2), which has been approved for use in Australia is 95% effective in reducing moderate to severe COVID-19.
The vaccine employs a new approach that uses messenger RNA to enable your cells to make a synthetic critical fragment of the virus. These recognisable pieces of the coronavirus stimulate an immune response. By activating the body’s immune pathways, the vaccine offers protection when someone encounters the virus.
The Pfizer vaccine is administered in two doses, at least 21 days apart.
mRNA isn’t the same as DNA, doesn’t link with our DNA and it can’t change our genetic code.
The TGA has rigorously evaluated all clinical trial data and information provided by AstraZeneca and has issued provisional approval.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is administered in two doses. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has determined that to create the very best immune response, ensure the most effective clinical protection and maximise broader community coverage, the vaccine should be administered at least 12 weeks apart.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and Advisory Committee on Vaccines (ACV) are the bodies responsible for ensuring that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective before approving them for use. We have confidence in the TGAs and the ACVs approval process and the safety of these vaccines. You will be provided with additional information about safety and precautions prior to vaccination in accordance with recommendations published by the Department of Health.
Certain viruses, including the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, naturally mutate over time. Often these mutations don’t impact on how viruses affect us. However, some recent variants of SARS-CoV-2 have meant that those strains are more easily spread.
Current evidence from clinical trials indicates that the antibodies induced from COVID-19 vaccines are likely to provide protection to a variety of mutations and minor changes. However, in some cases there may be an impact on how antibody can ‘neutralise’ the virus and this may mean that the effectiveness of the vaccines against a particular strain could be affected. This information is still emerging and is being closely monitored.
In the same way that the influenza vaccine changes each season, the technology used to create the COVID-19 vaccines may be able to be adapted to changes in variants.
The Australian Government has secured doses of other COVID-19 vaccines, including those produced by Novavax, which are still subject to TGA approvals and The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) advice.
The COVID-19 vaccines we will have in Australia have already been shown to be safe and effective, and it is strongly recommended to get vaccinated as soon as you are offered a vaccine.
Having a COVID-19 vaccine now offers you and others protection against the disease and is the fastest way to reducing our need for strict COVID-19 related measures.
Just like influenza it may be necessary to have further vaccinations or booster doses in future. More data will come on this over time.
There is no evidence of any safety concerns from vaccinating individuals with a past history of COVID-19 infection, or with detectable COVID-19 antibody so people who have had COVID-19 disease (whether confirmed or suspected) can still receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Those individuals with previous exposure to the virus mount an even better immune response after the vaccine.
Everyone should continue to follow government advice on reducing their risk of infection. Continuation of testing, social distancing, hand-hygiene and wearing a mask as recommended continue to be extremely important. Maintaining necessary infection control measures in line with government advice remain the most effective methods for reducing community transmission.
Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before deciding whether to change any recommendations.
All GenesisCare centres will continue to adhere to our strict set of safety and quality measures to keep our patients and employees safe.
Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Continuation of social distancing, hand-hygiene and wearing a mask (as recommended) continue to be extremely important.
Vaccines work with your immune system to equip your body to fight the virus and reduce the severity of the illness if you are exposed. While experts learn more about the protection the vaccine provides under real-life conditions, we must continue to use all the tools available to us to protect ourselves and each other. Vaccination will eventually reduce the need for other infection control measures however we will inform you of any changes to protocols.