Find out about the importance of getting vaccinated and read more about COVID-19 vaccines on the Queensland Government website.

What is COVID-19

COVID-19 is a respiratory infection caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which affects humans.

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms depend on the strain of COVID-19. Because these change over time, symptoms may be more or less common.

Most people who get COVID-19 will have mild to moderate symptoms that can be managed at home. However, some people may become seriously ill and need hospitalisation.

Generally, COVID-19 can cause any type of cold or flu symptom, including:

  • cough
  • breathing difficulty
  • sore throat
  • runny nose or nasal congestion
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • fatigue
  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • fevers over 37.5°C

Older people may also experience:

  • new onset or increased confusion
  • changes in normal behaviour
  • falling
  • worsening of underlying chronic illness, for example increasing shortness of breath in someone with congestive heart failure.

If you're feeling sick, stay home and get tested. Find out how and where you can get tested on the Queensland Government website.

How it spreads

You can get COVID-19 from:

  • inhaling droplets and particles when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks near you
  • touching your mouth, nose or eyes after touching contaminated items such as people’s hands, remote controls, phones, keyboards and door handles.

Who's at risk

Some people get sicker than others when they get COVID-19, and some people are more at risk of getting a serious illness.

You may be at higher risk if:

  • you’re aged over 70
  • you have a weak immune system
  • you have a chronic medical condition
  • you’re Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, especially if you live in a remote community.

You may be at higher risk of getting COVID-19 if you live in a group or institutional setting, such as residential aged care facility, prison, or boarding school. This is because when you live in these places you’re closer to others and share the same facilities and air with them.

Read more about groups at greater risk on the Department of Health and Aged Care website.

By getting vaccinated, you help protect others. If enough people get vaccinated, this creates herd immunity and helps stops the spread of COVID-19.

Who shouldn’t get the vaccine

Don’t get the vaccine if you’ve had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis):

  • to a previous dose of the same COVID-19 vaccine
  • after exposure to any ingredient of the COVID-19 vaccine.

You can search for ingredients of any COVID-19 vaccine on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) website.

You can still get the vaccine if you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to anything else including other vaccines. If you have, make sure you tell the vaccination provider before you get the COVID-19 vaccine.

In previous years, no other vaccine could be given 7 days before or after a COVID-19 vaccine. However, this year, vaccine experts advise that people can safely get the COVID-19 and influenza vaccines on the same day.

When do you have immunity

You may have partial protection against COVID-19 as soon as 12 days after you get your first vaccination, but one dose won’t provide long-lasting protection.

After you get your second vaccination, you’ll have protection within 7 to 14 days.

To make sure your protection is stronger and longer lasting, you should have a booster dose 3 months after your second dose. Read about the recommendations for a winter dose of COVID-19 vaccine on the Department of Health and Aged Care website.

If you’ve had COVID-19 you should wait to get a COVID-19 vaccination until 6 months after your infection.

To make sure you have protection, it’s important to stay up to date with the COVID-19 vaccinations recommended for your age or individual health needs. Find out about recommended doses and vaccines on the Department of Health and Aged Care website.

While COVID-19 vaccines offer protection, you can still become ill and infect others around you. If you are sick, stay home and maintain good personal hygiene.


The best way to protect yourself and others is to get vaccinated and have good personal hygiene by:

  • cleaning your hands often with soap and water or using a hand sanitiser
  • sneezing or coughing into your arm or a tissue
  • throwing away used tissues and cleaning your hands after coughing or sneezing
  • not sharing cups, glasses, cutlery, lip balm, toys or anything that may have touched someone else's mouth or nose.

You should also clean surfaces at work and home regularly and maintain physical distancing by:

  • staying 1.5 metres (2 big steps) away from other people and
  • wearing a face mask if you can't.

If you’re staying at home, you can improve your indoor air quality by:

  • opening doors and windows to allow natural ventilation
  • using an air purifier.


Most people who get COVID-19 can manage their illness at home and should start feeling better in about a week or so.

If you get COVID-19, it can help to:

  • rest and drink plenty of fluids, such as water, to avoid dehydration
  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve a high temperature.

If you’re at higher risk of getting a serious illness from COVID-19, there is antiviral medication available. Find out more about medicines for COVID-19 on the Queensland Government website.

If you’re concerned about symptoms or need access to antiviral medication, contact your GP or call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).

Vaccine safety

The COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t contain the COVID-19 virus so it won’t infect you with the virus. The vaccine triggers our immune system to make antibodies to the spike protein of the virus.

Pregnant women can also get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. You can do this at any stage in your pregnancy. You can also get the vaccine if you’re breastfeeding. You don’t need to stop breastfeeding before or after vaccination.

Reactions to vaccines do happen and usually resolve within a couple of days. Most reactions are minor and temporary, such as a sore arm or headache. In very rare circumstances, there may be severe reactions such as allergies (anaphylaxis).

If you get a minor reaction, it’s a sign that the vaccine is doing what it was made to do. This is because vaccines stimulate your immune system.

Find out more about COVID-19 vaccine safety and side effects on the Department of Health and Aged Care website.

Where to get vaccinated

COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone.

Use the healthdirect Vaccine Clinic Finder to find and book an appointment.

If you don't have a Medicare card, you can get free COVID-19 vaccines at your local pharmacy.

When to get help

Call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance if you or someone else:

  • are breathless at rest or are unable to speak in sentences
  • are unconscious, faint or drowsy
  • are cold and clammy or have blue, pale and mottled skin
  • has pain or pressure in the chest, lasting more than 10 minutes
  • is confused
  • is passing no urine or a lot less urine than usual
  • is coughing up blood
  • has a severe headache.

If you're not sure whether to go to an emergency department, call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) or see your GP.

You can also use the healthdirect COVID-19 Symptom Checker.

Find out more

For more information about vaccination, contact your health provider or call 13 HEALTH(13 43 25 84) .

Find an immunisation provider

Information in your language

You can find information about vaccination in your language on the  Queensland Government website.

Last updated: April 2023