Is it safe?
All the vaccines available in Australia have been provisionally approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which means that the TGA is satisfied that the benefits of the medicine outweigh any risk.
Worldwide, over 5.95 billion people have received a Covid-19 vaccination.
What about side-effects?
The vast majority of people who get the vaccine will only experience flu-like side-effects for a day or two.
You may have heard about some blood clotting side-effects from the Astra-Zeneca vaccine - so let’s break down the risk here.
Your chance of developing the blood clotting side effect from Astra-Zeneca is about 3.4 in 100,000 if you’re under 50 years old (and even less if you’re over 50).
So we’re talking about a side effect that might affect 3 people - non fatally - in this crowd of 100,000.
That’s a pretty small risk. And it’s very much a preferable risk to the risk you’re taking by not getting vaccinated.
If you choose not to get vaccinated, you face a much higher risk of catching Covid-19 - you’re about 5 times more likely to be infected than a vaccinated person.
An unvaccinated person is about 10 times more likely to be hospitalised because of Covid-19.
That’s why your union recommends you get vaccinated as soon as possible, with whatever vaccine is available to you.
Can I catch Covid from the vaccine?
No. There are no live virus particles in any vaccine available in Australia. While you might feel minor, temporary side effects from the injection, it is impossible to contract the virus from the vaccine.
Will it affect my natural immune response?
Yes - for the better!
The vaccines available for Covid-19 teach your body’s immune system how to quickly recognise Covid-19 and fight it effectively.
Australian research has revealed that the vaccine offers a much broader protection against COVID-19 and its variants than the body’s natural immune response following infection. That is, a vaccinated person’s immune system is better prepared to fight Covid variants than the immune system of a person who previously had Covid.
Getting vaccinated trains your body to fight the virus naturally - so that you don’t end up trying to fight it in hospital.
Does the vaccine change my DNA?
This is a common claim floating around the internet. It is possible that people have been confused between DNA and mRNA.
The Pfizer vaccine uses a fragment of messenger RNA (mRNA) to teach your immune system how to fight covid.
The mRNA never even comes into contact with your DNA, and cannot affect your DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines teach the cell how to make a protein that triggers an immune response specific to COVID-19. The vaccines work with the body’s natural defences to develop immunity to disease.
How did it get produced so quickly?
The reason the vaccines have been able to be developed and manufactured so quickly is that, for a change, there was sufficient money poured into the process. Which makes you wonder - how many health problems could we solve if billionaires paid tax instead of flying to space?
Researchers around the world have been working hard to develop COVID-19 vaccines from the earliest stages of the pandemic.
Because of the threat posed by Covid to people around the world, vaccine developers, governments and researchers collaborated more closely than ever before. Clinical trials progressed more quickly because Covid-19 was so widespread that differences between vaccinated and unvaccinated groups could be detected sooner.
In Australia, the vaccines have been provisionally approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. The provisional approval pathway is a process that allows for temporary registration of promising new medicines and vaccines where the need for early access outweighs the risks.
The Astra-Zeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna vaccines are all provisionally approved by the TGA, which means that the TGA is satisfied that the benefit of the medicine outweighs any risk.
Clinical trials are ongoing with the vaccines, and are comprehensively reviewed regularly.
Why can’t I make up my own mind?
You can! But choosing not to be vaccinated may have consequences for how you can interact with other people.
Choosing not to get vaccinated puts you and the people around you at greater risk of Covid infection. For that reason, people who choose not to be vaccinated present a risk in certain occupations. You can choose not to be vaccinated - but you cannot choose to put your workplace at risk.
As directed by the Chief Health Officer, some occupations may require proof of vaccination before you can return to work. If you work in an industry or occupation where vaccination is a work requirement, you will need to be vaccinated before you return to your normal worksite.
Be advised that vaccination status is not a protected attribute under anti-discrimination law. If you decide not to get vaccinated, you may need assistance from your union. Your union strongly encourages you to get vaccinated as soon as you can, to protect yourself and your fellow workers.
What’s in it?
Eating a cake is not the same as eating a spoon of flour, then a spoon of sugar, then a spoon of egg etc. Just like a cake, a vaccine is more than the sum of its ingredients.
A great breakdown of all the ingredients of various vaccines can be found on the Queensland Health website.
Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are made from mRNA (a set of instructions about the genetic material of the virus), lipids (fats, oils and waxes), salts, sugar, amino acids (Moderna only) and water.
AstraZeneca contains a modified cold virus (adenovirus), emulsifiers, preservatives, amino acids, sugar, salt and water.
If you receive a lolly pop with your vaccination, that contains sugar, corn syrup, water, food colouring, acidity regulators, flavour, and a plastic stick.
People are still getting the virus, even when they’re vaccinated. So why should I get vaccinated?
A small proportion of fully vaccinated people may still be infected with Covid-19, but will most likely experience less severe symptoms.
Importantly, getting the vaccine means you are much less likely to end up in hospital, which means our hospital workers have capacity to look after other people who need their help.
Even if you have been vaccinated, it is important to maintain Covid-safe behaviours such as good hand hygiene, social distancing, wearing a mask and checking in via QR code. These behaviours help protect you, and people who have not yet been vaccinated.
I saw something online that was actually quite persuasive…
We recommend that if you have any concerns about the vaccine, you should speak to your GP or another trusted medical professional.
The internet is an amazing research tool, but a google search from your laptop or phone is not equivalent in research terms to the years of scientific study that our health professionals and scientists put into their professions. Anyone encouraging you to “do your own research” has failed to understand that.
Whereas medical research articles are difficult to access and even harder to understand, misinformation is available to everyone, and is usually written by someone who is as unfamiliar with jargon as we are ourselves. So “doing your own research” will naturally have a misinformation bias.
When viewing information on the internet, question why the source is credible. Why, for example, should we trust the word of a funeral director in the UK, or some bloke from Texas, when our own doctors, nurses, pharmacists and scientists are all enthusiastically endorsing vaccination?
Take this article for example. This article has been written by a union official - we’ve got a bunch of experience in keeping workplaces healthy and safe, but we’re not medical professionals. So this article is no substitute for a conversation with your doctor!
Our secret ulterior motive in spreading this information? We want to keep union members healthy and safe - that’s pretty much our whole thing. And you can reach out to us for more information at any time - send us your query by email here.
If you have more questions about your own situation, talk to your GP. Don’t feel embarrassed - they’ll be glad to set you straight!
We answer your burning questions about the Covid vaccines, so you can feel at ease getting vaxxed up!