Safety and first aid

Vaccination safety

Vaccination refers to the act of giving a vaccine to a person. A vaccine is the material used to immunise people against diseases.

Like any other medication, vaccines can have side effects. Side effects after vaccination are usually mild and short-lasting and do not need special treatment.

If the side effects seem severe or persistent, for example an ongoing high fever, breathing difficulties or convulsions seek medical advice.

Read more about the possible side effects of vaccination.

Adverse events following immunisation

An adverse event following immunisation (AEFI) is an unwanted or unexpected event occurring after a vaccine has been given.

Such an event may be caused by the vaccine or may occur by chance after vaccination (that is, it would have occurred regardless of vaccination).

Vaccines can cause minor adverse events such as low-grade fever, pain or redness at the injection site, these symptoms are short lived.

Surveillance

Surveillance of AEFI is an integral part of a national vaccination program. Under the Health (Notification of Adverse Event After Immunisation) Regulations 1995, all WA medical officers are required to report any adverse events of concern to the Department of Health, providing a full description of the reaction to the vaccine.

This enables WA Health to identify new and unexpected AEFI and respond accordingly.

Reporting

Not all side effects need to be reported such as, soreness or redness at the injection site or a slight fever that lasts less than a day. Read more about common minor side effects to vaccines that do not require reporting (PDF 43KB) (external site).

If you experience a significant AEFI you should tell your doctor what happened, the date and time it happened, and when you had the vaccination.

If your doctor is not available call healthdirect on 1800 022 222. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A registered nurse will provide free advice about your health issues and concerns.

You can also report the reaction yourself using Western Australian Vaccine Safety Surveillance System (WAVSS) online or by calling the Central Immunisation Clinic on telephone (08) 9321 1312, Monday to Friday, 8.30 am to 4.30 pm.

Vaccine Safety Net

The World Health Organization (WHO) has compiled a network of websites across the world that provide reliable information about vaccine safety. Visit Vaccine Safety Net (external site) to access global websites that have been evaluated by WHO as providing accurate, reliable information.

Australia’s Immunise Australia (external site), National Centre for Immunisation Research (external site) and Northern Rivers Vaccination Supporters (external site) are among those in the network.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor
  • Visit a GP after hours
  • Phone healthdirect on 1800 022 222
  • Phone the Immunise Australia Hotline on 1800 671 811

Remember


Acknowledgements
Public Health

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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