Information on COVID-19 Pfizer (Comirnaty) vaccine

About the vaccine

Comirnaty (Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd) is a vaccine that can prevent people from becoming ill from COVID-19. Comirnaty does not contain any live virus, and it cannot give you COVID-19. It contains the genetic code for an important part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus called the spike protein. After getting the vaccine, your body makes copies of the spike protein. Your immune system will then learn to recognise and fight against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. The genetic code is then broken down quickly by the body.

To prevent COVID-19, everyone aged 12 years and older should get vaccinated, with a few exceptions specified in this information sheet. 

You can discuss any concerns or questions you have about COVID-19 vaccination with your immunisation provider and/or your GP before you receive the vaccine.

Benefits of the vaccine

A very large clinical trial showed that Comirnaty is effective in preventing COVID-19 in people aged 12 years and older. People who had two doses of Comirnaty were about 95 per cent less likely to get symptomatic COVID-19 than people who did not get the vaccine. It was equally effective in people over the age of 65 years, as well as people with some stable pre-existing medical conditions.

Protection against COVID-19 starts from about 2–3 weeks after the first dose. While one dose may give some protection, it may only last for the short-term. Two doses will give optimal protection. No vaccine is 100 per cent effective, so it is possible that you can still get sick from COVID-19 after vaccination. We do not know how long the protection from Comirnaty will last. We will learn more about this over time.

We currently do not know how effective COVID-19 vaccines are at preventing spread of the virus. This means that SARS-CoV-2 could potentially still infect a vaccinated person. Even if they have no symptoms or only mild symptoms they could still pass it on to others.

This is why it is important to continue other preventative measures like:

  • physical distancing

  • hand washing

  • wearing a face mask

  • COVID-19 testing and quarantine/isolation as required by your state/territory.

If you have been vaccinated with two doses of Comirnaty, you should still get a COVID-19 test if you have symptoms that meet testing criteria according to your local health authority (e.g. fever, cough, sore throat).

Precautions for vaccination

People with certain conditions may need additional precautions such as staying for 30 minutes of observation after having their vaccine or consulting an allergy specialist. Tell your immunisation provider if you have had:

  • an allergic reaction to a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or to an ingredient of the vaccine

  • anaphylaxis to other vaccines or to other medicines. Your provider can check to ensure there are no common ingredients with the COVID-19 vaccine you are receiving

  • a mast cell disorder.

If you have a bleeding disorder or you are taking a blood-thinning medication (anticoagulant), tell your immunisation provider. Your immunisation provider can help determine whether it is safe for you to have an intramuscular injection, and help decide the best timing for injection.

Special circumstances to discuss before vaccination

People with weakened immune systems (immunocompromise)

People with immunocompromise includes those who have a medical condition that weakens their immune system. It also includes those who may be taking medications that suppress their immune system.

The Australian Government strongly recommends people with immunocompromise receive COVID-19 vaccination. Comirnaty is not a live vaccine. It is safe in people with immunocompromise.

People with immunocompromise, including those living with HIV, have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, including a higher risk of death.

Clinical trials for Comirnaty did not include people with immunocompromise, except for a small group of people with stable HIV. We do not know if Comirnaty is as effective in people with immunocompromise compared to the rest of the population. It is possible that Comirnaty might not be as effective in people with immunocompromise as it is in the general population. It is important to continue other preventative measures such as physical distancing after vaccination.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding

Pregnant women should be routinely offered Comirnaty at any stage of pregnancy. If you are trying to become pregnant you do not need to delay vaccination or avoid becoming pregnant after vaccination.

Pregnant women with COVID-19 have an increased risk of severe illness and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Real-world evidence has shown that Comirnaty is safe for pregnant women and breastfeeding women. You can discuss the decision in relation to timing of vaccination with your health professional.

If you are breastfeeding, you can have Comirnaty. You do not need to stop breastfeeding after vaccination.

People with a history of COVID-19

If you have had COVID-19 in the past, tell your immunisation provider. Your provider may advise to wait for up to six months after recovery before having a COVID-19 vaccine. If you have ongoing illness from COVID-19, discuss the best timing of vaccination with your treating doctor.