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19 February 2021

Institute news

COVID-19 vaccine Australian adults living with cardiovascular disease and diabetes are encouraged to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and take whichever vaccine they are offered when it becomes available to them.

Below we answer some of the key questions people with heart disease and/or diabetes may have about the vaccine.

It’s important if you have any specific concerns or questions regarding your personal situation that you speak with your doctor or health professional directly. 

You can also find the Australian Government’s latest vaccine advice, details on the different vaccines approved for use in Australia, and information about the country’s vaccination rollout.

Why should I get vaccinated?

COVID-19 vaccination is a critical tool to prevent the spread of this disease. The 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.

We now know that the vaccines prevent severe disease. This is important because people with heart disease and diabetes who contract COVID-19 are more at-risk of the virus’ severe and potentially deadly complications. Therefore, there is a strong argument for people with these illnesses to take all safe steps to protect themselves from infection, including vaccination.

The other important benefit is that all of us have a role in stopping the spread of COVID-19. This also is of particular benefit to people with heart disease and diabetes, because the lock-downs have been disruptive to care. It would be great to go back to the normal environment for management of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

There have been extremely thorough safety protocols as vaccines have moved through development and clinical trials. Years of scientific research and supportive technologies have enabled these vaccines to be developed rapidly.

It’s also useful to know that the vaccines have been tested in men and women of different ages and ethnicities, with a range of health conditions — including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe for people with cardiovascular disease?

The vaccine is safe for adults who have or have had cardiovascular disease. 

It was approved for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) because independent, robust evidence showed it was safe and worked. The TGA looks at evidence of its safety and effectiveness for a range of different ages, health conditions and lifestyle factors before approving its use. That included people with cardiovascular disease.

The TGA is actively monitoring COVID-19 vaccine development both in Australia and around the world, and is also part of a network of international regulators that meet regularly to discuss the development of COVID-19 vaccines.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe for people with diabetes?

The vaccine is safe for adults who have diabetes.

We know from previous research that the immune response to fighting coronavirus in people with diabetes is no different to people who don’t have diabetes. So there’s no evidence to suggest that the COVID-19 vaccine will be less effective in people with diabetes.

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. 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.

Is one vaccine better than the other for people with heart disease or diabetes?

The COVID-19 vaccinations are safe and have been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) rigorous testing process. Both vaccines currently approved by the TGA (AstraZeneca and Pfizer) are suitable for use in adults living with diabetes and/or cardiovascular disease.

You will not be able to choose which COVID-19 vaccine you are offered. Initial supply of COVID-19 vaccines will be limited, and whichever vaccine is available to you first is the best vaccine for you to get.

Are there any side effects?

All vaccines can cause side effects. Usually these are mild. Clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines have reported side effects such as pain at the injection site, fever or muscle aches on the day or day after vaccination. Serious complications are extremely rare — under five per million.

Can I get COVID-19 from a coronavirus vaccine?

You cannot get COVID-19 from a COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 occurs after infection by a live virus that can multiply in your body. No vaccine being used in the world contains live coronavirus.
Are there any medications that I should be concerned about if I am getting the vaccine?

Make sure you take all of your regular medications at the same time and the same dose on the day of your vaccination. It is safe to take the vaccine if you are on multiple medications. 

Generally, the vaccine is safe for people on blood thinners, however there is some risk of mild bleeding as with any injection. If you are taking a blood thinner the bleeding may take a little longer to stop and you may get more bruising on your upper arm. Relevant clinical guidelines are included in the Australian Government’s Immunisation Handbook for health professionals to follow. If you have a specific concern make sure to speak to your doctor.

When will I get the vaccine?

A staged rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines in Australia will start from 22 February 2021.

It will take time for enough vaccine doses to be manufactured so that the entire population in Australia can be vaccinated. Initially, the vaccine will be offered using a 'priority framework' that outlines how to allocate the initially limited available doses. 

Because people with cardiovascular disease and/or diabetes are among those most vulnerable to COVID-19 serious complications, people in these groups will be among those vaccinated early.

The Australian Government has published detailed information outlining priority populations.

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