COVID-19 vaccine FAQs for people with diabetes

Thursday, 11 March 2021

An important update on COVID-19 vaccines for people with diabetes

The Department of Health has confirmed that all adults living with diabetes will be included in Phase 1b of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which will begin on March 22.

This is something diabetes organisations across Australia, including Diabetes NSW & ACT, have advocated for and we are glad the government has responded.

Diabetes Australia, the Australian Diabetes Society and Australian Diabetes Educators Association are encouraging all adults with diabetes to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as the vaccine is available. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and have been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) rigorous testing process. Both vaccines currently approved by the TGA (Astra Zeneca and Pfizer) are suitable for use in adults living with diabetes.

You can find more information about the vaccine roll-out on the Department of Health website.

Each State/Territory government is responsible for administering vaccinations. For up-to-date information on vaccination locations please check with your State or Territory Department of Health.

Frequently asked questions

What vaccines are available?

The initial phases of the Australian vaccine roll out will involve two vaccines – Pfizer and the Astra Zeneca vaccine. A third vaccine, Novavax, is still in Stage 3 human clinical trials and if approved is expected to be available later in 2021.

The Pfizer vaccine is an mRNA-based vaccine. This triggers the body to produce harmless copies of parts of the COVID-19 virus (the spike protein) to trigger a protective immune response. Countries using the Pfizer vaccine include the United Kingdom, the United States, most of Europe, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

The Astra Zeneca vaccine uses a safe, modified version of a different virus that triggers a protective immune response. Countries using the AstraZeneca vaccine include the United Kingdom and most of Europe.

Are the two approved COVID-19 vaccines safe?

The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and have been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) rigorous testing process.

While the development and approval of the COVID-19 vaccines has been faster than usual, this is because of the urgency and scale of the pandemic. No testing phases or safety assessments have been skipped. Approvals have also been prioritised by government regulators (in Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Association) around the world.

These vaccines build on years of scientific research which has helped speed up the development process.

Both vaccines currently approved by the TGA (AstraZeneca and Pfizer) are suitable for use in adults living with diabetes. The clinical safety trials for both vaccines included people with diabetes and both vaccines are currently being delivered to people with diabetes internationally.

When you get the vaccine, your body will start to produce what’s called an immune response. This is nothing to worry about. Your body is just reacting to the vaccine because the vaccine is new to you. As with any vaccine, there is a chance the COVID-19 vaccine may cause blood glucose levels to rise for a couple of days. You should not be alarmed by this and should simply stick to your typical sick day plan if it does occur or contact your diabetes healthcare team if you need advice. After the vaccination, drink plenty of water, keep a close eye on your blood glucose levels, and make sure you have someone to support you if needed.

What are the possible side effects of the vaccines?

All vaccines may cause side effects but they are usually mild. Common side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines include pain and swelling where you received the needle (most likely the upper arm), mild fever and headache. Serious reactions are extremely rare and usually occur within 15 minutes of receiving a vaccine. After you receive your vaccine, you will wait fifteen minutes before you leave the vaccine site in case you have a reaction.

Use the COVID-19 vaccine side effects symptom checker if you have concerns about any symptoms after your vaccine. The checker is also available through the National Coronavirus Helpline, 1800 020 080, 24 hours a day.

There is currently no clinical evidence suggesting the vaccine will result in any long-term effects.

Will I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

No. You may get some mild side-effects from the vaccine, including mild fever and headache, but these will generally only last for a day or two. These are normal reactions to any vaccine.

Will I be able to choose the type of vaccine I get?

No. People will be given the vaccine available at the time. Both approved vaccines are safe and effective. It is important people with diabetes get vaccinated as soon as possible, regardless of the vaccine they are offered.

Is one vaccine better than the other?

Both vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective and protect people against COVID-19. People with diabetes are at risk of severe complications from COVID-19 so we are encouraging everyone with diabetes to get vaccinated as soon as they are able.

How much will it cost?

The vaccine is free for all Australia citizens, permanent residents and most visa-holders.

When can children get vaccinated?

Children are included in Phase 3 of the Federal Government’s roll out plan. The vaccines are still awaiting approval for use in children.

Where can I get vaccinated?

Each State/Territory government is responsible for administering vaccinations. Talk to your GP, or local hospital, about when and where you can get vaccinated.

More information about the COVID-19 vaccines

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine please visit the Department of Health’s website.

If you have further questions you can submit your enquiry via the Department’s online enquiry form. You can also call the COVID-19 hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 1800 020 080.

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