Pfizer Vaccine

What you need to know about the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

A total projected 9 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrived on Australian shores in October, and although the Pfizer vaccine is well known on the market, we’re sure you have a few questions, and it’s great to be informed.

We’ve put together some helpful FAQs to help, but in short, the Pfizer vaccine is very similar to the Moderna vaccine, in that both are mRNA vaccines that work by helping your immune system create new antibodies that help fight off the virus that causes COVID-19.

The Pfizer vaccine has gone through rigorous evaluation and approval processes, and both the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the Australian Technical Advisory Group for Immunisation (ATAGI) have approved its use for all those aged 12 years and over, as well as those who are pregnant.

Read on to learn more about the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination, and if you still have questions you can visit the Department of Health website at or consult your local community pharmacist or other trusted healthcare provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available at local community pharmacies. You need 2 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, given between 3 and 6 weeks apart. You may not be fully protected against COVID-19 until 7 to 14 days after your second dose.

Being an mRNA vaccine, Pfizer creates a temporary genetic instruction that tells our cells to make a particular protein. Similarly in the case of Moderna, Pfizer instructs the body to make an mRNA (genetic instruction) for the spike protein found on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (which causes COVID-19). Once injected in the body, the cells near the vaccine site will make the spike protein, display it on their surface and trigger the immune system to learn how to fight the actual virus, if encountered.

The Pfizer vaccine shares many characteristics with the Moderna vaccine with only a few technical differences. As mentioned above, both are mRNA vaccines based on the same chemistry and produce the same spike protein variant.

There are slight differences in the mRNA sequence, both in the spike protein’s genetic code and outside the actual genetic code.

The Pfizer vaccine is recommended for all people aged 12 years of age and above.

In saying that, you should not get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine if:

  • If you have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) or an immediate allergic reaction, even if it was not severe, to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (such as polyethylene glycol)
  • If you had a severe or immediate allergic reaction after getting the first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get a second dose of either of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech)
    • You had myocarditis and/or pericarditis attributed to a previous dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine
    • You had any other serious adverse event attributed to a previous dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine

The Pfizer vaccine has undergone and registered evidence from clinical trials which illustrate its successful results. Based on these trials, in people aged 18 years and older, the Moderna vaccine was 89 % effective at preventing the laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection in people who received two doses and had no evidence of being previously infected.

It is also important to note that the vaccine was also highly effective in clinical trials at preventing COVID-19 among people of diverse age, sex, race, and ethnicity categories. On top of this, it also proved to be highly effective in clinical trials for those with underlying medical conditions.

The Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine contains the following ingredients: mRNA, lipids ((4- hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, and cholesterol), potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and sucrose.

Similarly to Moderna and the other approved COVID-19 vaccines, the most commonly reported side effects, which typically lasted several days, included pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes in the same arm as the injection, nausea and vomiting, and fever. It is important to note that more people experienced these side effects after the second dose compared to that of the first dose.

No. The vaccine does not contain SARS-CoV-2 and cannot give you COVID-19.

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