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COVID-19 vaccines, T1D and clinical trials: FAQs

August 02, 2021

UPDATED August 2022

Australia has begun the rollout of two COVID-19 vaccines – one from Pfizer, and one from AstraZeneca. Both these vaccines are safe and effective at protecting people against COVID-19, and all Australians are encouraged to get vaccinated.

With vaccines now being offered to people with T1D, we’ve gathered all the information you need to know below.

When can people with T1D get vaccinated for Covid?

Adults with diabetes and children aged over 12 with diabetes are included as priority groups in Phase Ib of the COVID-19 National Rollout Strategy in Australia. Vaccinations are currently being offered to those eligible for Phase Ib. You can check your eligibility and book a vaccination appointment here.

Vaccinations are being offered at GP clinics, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, Commonwealth Vaccination clinics and state and territory vaccination clinics. You can find a list of clinics offering vaccination here.

Can children with T1D be vaccinated?

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12-15 on 23 July 2021.

In August 2022, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommended that children from 6 months to 5 years who live with type 1 diabetes are immunised for Covid. Read the full statement and recommendations.

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for people with T1D?

The vaccines available in Australia are safe, and there is no evidence that people with T1D respond any differently to the rest of the population.

All vaccines are thoroughly assessed for safety before they are approved for use in Australia, and safety will continue to be monitored and reassessed during the vaccine rollout.

Is it safe for elderly people with T1D to get vaccinated?

The vaccines are safe to use for elderly people with T1D. In clinical trials, the vaccines were tested in people up to age 90, including some with diabetes. Millions of people in aged care facilities overseas have already been vaccinated.    

For frail older people, or those aged over 85, the benefits and risks of vaccination should be discussed with a healthcare professional. The Department of Health has information on decision making here.

Will there be any side effects?

Based on experiences overseas, most of the side effects from the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are mild. You might experience a sore arm or redness, feel tired or have a mild fever. These side effects are a normal response to vaccination and should go away in a few days.

What about the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clotting?

Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) is a very rare side effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine. It is different from other types of blood clot, like deep vein thrombosis, and there is no evidence that people with type 1 diabetes are at a higher risk of developing TTS.

For the latest advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine, visit the Department of Health website.

What about my blood sugar levels?

Some people with T1D experience a temporary impact on blood sugar levels after receiving a vaccine. Check your levels frequently in the 48 hours after being vaccinated, stay hydrated, and familiarise yourself with your sick day plan.

If you have concerns about any potential side effects, it’s best to talk to your healthcare team.

Can I get COVID-19 from a vaccine?

No, you cannot get COVID-19 from receiving a vaccine.

Do I have to get vaccinated?

COVID-19 vaccination is voluntary, but strongly encouraged for all Australians. If you’re hesitant about getting vaccinated, we recommend talking to your healthcare team about your concerns and asking questions to help you make an informed decision.

Is research for a T1D cure still being carried out while COVID is around?

Yes, we are working hard with our researchers to ensure that their vital research to cure, treat and prevent T1D does not stop. Most research projects have been impacted in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some projects are continuing as planned with little disruption, while others are making changes that allow them to continue in a reduced capacity.

In all cases, JDRF is working with research teams to understand their individual situations and develop solutions that will allow their research to continue.

Are clinical trials still accepting participants?

Many clinical trials have changed their processes to ensure that they can continue to operate, while prioritising participant safety and complying with social distancing guidelines. These changes are evolving all the time as circumstances change, but currently include:

  • Conducting visits over the phone rather than in person
  • Assisting patients to collect their own samples or data, e.g. for trials involving saliva samples or CGM readings
  • Sending out questionnaires for participants to fill in
  • Monitoring all participants with regular check-ins via phone or video.

Some clinical trial sites are open and still conducting in-person appointments. In this case, new measures have been implemented to ensure the safety of trial participants. These measures are in line with current government advice around hygiene and social distancing, as well as individual hospital and institute guidelines.

Can I still take part in a clinical trial?

Yes, there are still clinical trials that are looking for participants. However, it’s best to discuss your individual situation with a health professional or member of the clinical trial team.

You can find current Australian T1D clinical trials through JDRF’s Trial Finder.

More information on COVID-19 vaccines:
Diabetes Australia
Australian Government Department of Health
Therapeutic Goods Administration

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