COVID-19 Explained

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory viral disease caused by SARS-CoV-2.

The virus can spread from person to person by close contact with infectious person, contact with respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing, and touching objects or surfaces that have droplets from infected person and then touching your mouth or nose.

Most people infected by COVID-19 recover without requiring special treatment however some people can become seriously ill and require medical attention.

Vaccinations, appropriate hygiene practices, and mask-wearing are some of the best ways to prevent and slow down transmission.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Vaccines stimulate the body’s natural defences to strengthen the immune system response to a condition or illness.  Vaccines use inactivated or severely weakened pathogens such as viruses or bacteria to trick the immune system into producing antibodies. After receiving a viral vaccine, the body’s immune system recognises and remembers the virus.

If you should be exposed to the virus later, your immune system can fight off an infection more effectively because it has already produced antibodies to the virus. 

Vaccinations are an easy, safe and effective way of protecting your community and yourself against harmful diseases like COVID-19.

COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility

Everyone aged 5 years and older is eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Some very young children from 6 months of age might also be eligible depending on their individual circumstances. The COVID-19 vaccine is free.

All COVID-19 vaccines available in Australia have been provisionally approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), meaning they have met rigorous standards for safety, quality, and efficacy.


COVID-19 Vaccine Availability

There are currently four COVID-19 vaccines registered for use in Australia:


COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Advice– 8th February 2023

ATAGI advises the following groups should consider a 2023 booster dose if their last COVID-19 vaccine dose or confirmed infection (whichever is the most recent) was 6 months ago or longer, and regardless of the number of prior doses received, based on an individual risk benefit assessment with their immunisation provider:

  • All adults aged 18-64 years without risk factors for severe COVID-19; and
  • Children and adolescents aged 5-17 years who have medical comorbidities that increase their risk of severe COVID-19, or disability with significant or complex health needs

ATAGI advise that a booster dose is not recommended at this time for children and adolescents aged under the age of 18 who do not have any risk factors for severe COVID-19.

It’s important to speak to your usual medical provider about the number of COVID­19 vaccines that are recommended for you.


What are the benefits of COVID-19 Boosters?

Two doses of COVID-19 vaccine provide a very good protection, a booster dose ensures the protection from the first dose is even stronger and longer lasting.  The booster dose will increase your protection against infection with the virus and prevent severe illness if you should catch the virus.

What are the potential side effects after receiving my booster?

Common, mild side effects following a booster dose look like the side effects following the first 2 doses. 

The following are common adverse effects:

  • site pain
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • muscle pain and chills

Preparing for Your Vaccination

COVID-19 vaccinations are voluntary and free.

Before your vaccination appointment, you should make sure your details are up to date with Medicare.

If you don’t have your account set up, you can:

If you don’t have a Medicare card, or are not eligible for Medicare, you can get your free vaccination at a Commonwealth Vaccination Clinic or a state or territory vaccination clinic. More information is available on the Department of Health website here.

Please do not come to your vaccination appointment:

  • if you are feeling unwell with fever, cough, runny nose or other symptoms that could be from COVID-19
  • if you are waiting for COVID-19 test results, or have tested positive for COVID-19
  • if you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19, or
  • if you are in quarantine

If you have had another vaccine in the 7 days before your COVID-19 vaccine appointment, please let your local pharmacy know as we may need to reschedule your appointment.

If you cannot make it to your vaccination appointment, please contact your local Chemist as soon as possible to arrange a new appointment.

You may have other questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, please see our frequently asked questions page HERE.

COVID-19 Vaccines Q&A  

For information including Covid-19 Vaccines explained, Covid-19 questions answered, Advice on getting vaccinated and more, please visit the following pages:

COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test

Rapid Antigen self-tests (home use tests) were approved by the TGA for supply in Australia from 1 November 2021.

Rapid antigen tests are quick and easy to use, and can be done at home by yourself. Most will provide you with a result in 10 to 15 minutes. It detects the protein (antigen) that the COVID-19 virus generates, which is consistent across all the different strains and variants.

It is recommended for use within the first 7 days of symptom onset when the viral load is at its highest, or if you have been instructed to conduct a rapid antigen test.

There are different types of rapid antigen self-tests that can be used at home.

Please follow the instructions in your kit, as the instructions may differ slightly from one test to another.

What to do if you test positive?

If your rapid antigen or PCR test returns a positive result you must isolate at home and you must let health authorities know. Follow your local health advice to register as a COVID-19 positive case:

Follow the governments guidance on what to do if you test positive for COVID-19

What to do if you test negative?

If your rapid antigen or PCR test returns a negative result you do not need to isolate.

You must continue to follow the latest health advice and requirements of the state that you reside in.

Supervised Rapid Antigen Test Service Available at Participating Pharmacies

What is the supervised rapid antigen test (RAT) service?

A supervised RAT test is a self-administered RAT test performed in the presence of a pharmacist. Following the test, you will receive a certificate confirming your result, the time and date of the result and evidence that your pharmacist witnessed the result.

Why would I need a supervised Rapid Antigen Test (RAT)?

If you are planning to travel overseas, depending on your destination, you may need to provide a supervised RAT certificate at the time of entry. It is the responsibility of the traveller to organise the appropriate documentation to meet the criteria of the country they want to visit. It is always best to check with the airline, as requirements are ever changing.

Can I bring my own Rapid Antigen Test (RAT)?

No. A RAT is provided and is included in the cost of the service. In order for us to accurately supervise the test, we need to be certain that the test kit has been stored in appropriate conditions, is within expiry and that the RAT is TGA approved.

Please note: Inconclusive and positive results may require you to have a PCR confirmation test immediately following the result.

For more information, please contact your local Pharmacy for more information.