Over 50s now eligible for AstraZeneca shot. What to do if that's you

All Australians over the age of 50 are eligible to receive an AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as of today.

The shot will now be offered at General Practice Respiratory Clinics, as well as state and territory mass vaccination clinics.

But Australians over 50 may have to wait until Monday 17 May before they can receive the vaccine at their regular GP clinics, if those clinics are participating in the rollout.

National Cabinet last month agreed to fast-track the vaccination of Australians over the age of 50 after the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) changed its advice to recommend the Pfizer shot for people under 50. 

However, the TGA says the AstraZeneca shot is safe for people over 50. 

Bringing the vaccinations forward for people over 50 means almost six million Australians not yet vaccinated in the 50- to 69-year-old cohort of phase 2a of the rollout are now eligible for the shot. 

Federal government estimates suggest up to 16 million people between the ages of 16 and 49 are in phase 2b, which has yet to be vaccinated.

I’m over 50 and want my shot. What do I do?
You can book your vaccination appointment at selected GP clinics, GP Respiratory Clinics and some state and territory government clinics.

There’s no other criteria you need to meet besides being 50 or older. 

You can book by following the prompts on the federal government’s Health Direct website’s eligibility criteria checker, which will take you to a list of available clinics.

Some clinics only allow bookings to be made over the phone; others have online portals. 

You can also call the national coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccine helpline on 1800 020 080 for details about which clinic to call, but call centre staff are unable to book an appointment on your behalf. 

Two hands holding a COVID vaccine and syringe.
Over 50s will not have to meet any criteria other than their age to receive the AstraZeneca shot. (ABC News: Rhiannon Shine )

When booking, remember that you should wait at least 14 days between having the seasonal flu shot and your COVID-19 vaccine. 

Make sure you bring your Medicare card and photo ID if you have them. 

If you don’t have a Medicare card, you can still receive a vaccine but you’ll have to go through a GP-led respiratory clinic or a state vaccination clinic.

What to expect
You’re probably going to feel a bit off the day after the shot. 

The federal government has listed a series of side-effects that are commonly experienced by people who have received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. 

Roughly two-thirds of people experience some combination of them, but they’re more common after the first injection compared to the second dose. 

Generally, they kick in a day after the jab. But they’re usually mild and go away within one or two days. 

Here are the most common side-effects:

  • pain, swelling, tenderness, redness or itching at the injection site
  • tiredness
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • nausea
  • fever and chills
  • feeling unwell
  • joint pain

And here are some less common side-effects:

  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • pain in limb
  • dizziness
  • decreased appetite
  • stomach pain

Once you’ve received your shot, you’ll have to stay in the clinic for at least 15 minutes for observation. 

But depending on your medical history, you might be asked to wait for up to 30 minutes. 

Don’t forget to book your second appointment
You need two AstraZeneca doses to be better protected from COVID-19, and the recommended time between shots is 12 weeks. 

Keep in mind that you won’t have optimal protection until one to two weeks after your second dose.

If you have your vaccine at a clinic, you should return to the same place to receive your second shot. 

However, if you have moved, you will be able to receive your second shot at another clinic. 

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Written by ABC News



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