Updated 22nd September 2021

We are in the process of gathering some of the most common COVID-19 vaccine questions that have been asked. There is still a lot that we don’t know about the vaccines that are being studied and developed to prevent COVID-19. Currently there are two vaccines made by different companies that have been approved by the TGA in Australia.

We are closely monitoring the TGA’s approval process and latest research, along with that in the US and UK so that we can keep you informed. We will update this page as new information becomes available.

You and your doctor should decide together if the vaccine is right for you and, if so, which one. Now more than ever it is important to have a health care team that you trust.

Some Frequently asked Questions – Click on one of the questions below

Which COVID-19 vaccines are approved for use in Australia?

The TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) has approved 2 vaccines for use in Australia, the:

  1. Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
  2. Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine.
  3. Moderna vaccine

This means that these vaccines have met the TGA’s rigorous standards for safety, quality and efficacy. It will be free to all Australian residents.

You can view a list of vaccines that have submitted applications to the TGA.

Am I at risk because of my lupus?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is still a relatively new disease and scientists are continuing to learn about risk factors for severe infection. Based on current information, there are a range of characteristics that can put someone at greater risk of severe disease from the virus. The groups at most risk appear to be older adults and people of any age who have certain underlying medical conditions.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus) is a disease which can vary a lot in how it presents and the types of treatment needed. As such, some people with lupus are likely to be more vulnerable to the virus than others.

People with chronic inflammatory conditions requiring medical treatments, including systemic lupus erythematosus, are considered a high priority group, however it is important for individuals to attend their usual GP to ensure they are given proprity.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for people with lupus?

Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. Australia has some of the highest safety standards in the world.

Tens-of-thousands of people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine in clinical trials (whilst significantly larger numbers of people have now also received their first dose of the vaccine. The risk of severe effects from a COVID-19 vaccine is tiny when compared with the risk of getting ill from COVID-19. It’s also important to realise that vaccine safety monitoring picks up any serious illness somebody might experience after having a vaccine, but this doesn’t mean the vaccine caused it.

There is currently no evidence to suggest that people with a diagnosis of lupus should not be administered the COVID-19 vaccines. However, the clinical trials for the vaccines primarily recruited healthy volunteers, therefore at present, we have limited evidence about the effect of the vaccines in people with health conditions such as lupus. Researchers are studying the safety and efficacy of the vaccines in people with lupus during the rollout, so our understanding will improve significantly over time

Will my lupus medications affect how the vaccine works?

In general, lupus medications will not affect how the vaccine works. In some cases, particularly for those who take powerful immunosuppressant drugs, your doctor may have special instructions for you so that you can get the greatest possible benefit from the vaccine. Please check with your doctor about how the vaccine fits into your treatment plan.

Should I temporarily stop my medication when I have the vaccine?

There is currently no evidence available to make a firm recommendation in this area.

The COVID-19 vaccine requires two doses which are administered three to twelve weeks apart. This would require a significant pause to treatment as a result and therefore it is unlikely to be recommended due to the risk of lupus flares.

Advice may vary on a case-by-case basis to maximise the chance of effect from the vaccine whilst managing lupus disease activity. It is important to discuss the timing of your vaccine with your consultant if you are due to have an infusion of rituximab.

Should I still attend medical appointments?

Untreated or undertreated lupus can be serious. It is important that you continue to be treated and monitored appropriately throughout the pandemic and that you seek medical advice if you are concerned about your disease.

If you have a scheduled medical appointment then it is very important for you to attend.

It is very important for you to contact your GP or rheumatology team if you are experiencing a worsening of your disease. By avoiding medical care you could increase your risk of a serious lupus flare.

If you are anxious about attending an important appointment, please discuss with them the precautionary measures they have in place, to reassure you. Many hospitals have a separate rheumatology department where patients can be seen, rather than having to attend the main outpatient’s department.

If you are concerned about your lupus, by contacting your rheumatology team it won’t necessarily result in an automatic face-to-face appointment. Clinicians may initially assist remotely, where this is appropriate, through TeleHealth.

Do any of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in Australia shed or release any of their components?

No. Vaccine shedding is the term used to describe the release or discharge of any of the vaccine components in or outside of the body. Vaccine shedding can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened version of the virus. None of the vaccines authorized for use in Australia contain a live virus.

The mRNA and viral vector vaccines are the two types of currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines available.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

No. It is not possible to get COVID-19 from any of the vaccines that have been approved or are currently being reviewed by the TGA.

How has the COVID-19 Pandemic Affected You?

We are looking for individuals with lupus who are happy to share their experience of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their mental and physical wellbeing.

Things we would like you to consider when sharing your experiences are:
– Did the pandemic make you give up or change your job?
– Did the pandemic delay/stop you from receiving any treatment?
– Did self-isolating/shielding exacerbate any of your symptoms?
– Did you gain any positive experiences whilst being in lockdown?

If you would like to share your experience and be a part of our Lupus Awareness Month campaign, send in a video (2-5 minutes) talking about your experience or write an A4 page article with pictures and send it to info@lupusnsw.org.au

General Information – COVID-19 vaccines – Is it true?

With new COVID-19 vaccine developments every day, it’s normal to have questions or concerns, and possibly feel hesitant about getting a vaccine. That’s why the Department of Health has provided accurate, evidence-based answers to questions about COVID-19 vaccines. Find out more.