COVID-19 Vaccines and T1D: Answering Your Questions

March 19, 2021

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 beginning to be offered to people with T1D, we’ve gathered all the information you need to know below.

When can I get vaccinated?

Adults with diabetes are included as a priority group in Phase Ib of the COVID-19 National Rollout Strategy in Australia. Vaccinations will be offered to those eligible for Phase Ib from 22nd March. You can read more about these phases and check your eligibility here.  

Where can I get a vaccine?

Vaccinations are being offered at GP clinics, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and GP-led respiratory clinics. You can find a list of clinics offering vaccination and book an appointment here.

I can’t get an appointment, am I going to miss out?

No, Australia has ordered enough stock for the entire population to be vaccinated. There has been high demand for vaccination appointments, but the number of appointments available to book is expected to increase over the next 4 weeks.

What about children with T1D?

Children under 16 cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine at this time. Based on available evidence from clinical trials, the Pfizer vaccine is approved for use in people 16 years and older, and the AstraZeneca vaccine in people 18 years and older. Each state or territory is working out how to provide the correct vaccine to people aged 16 and 17, and more information will be available soon.

Clinical trials are underway in younger children. The Australian government has indicated that vaccines may be offered to children under 16 as part of Phase 3, pending results from these new studies.

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for people with T1D?

Both 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 Pfizer vaccine, currently being offered to aged care residents, is safe to use for elderly people with T1D. In clinical trials, the Pfizer vaccine was tested in people up to age 90, including some with diabetes. Millions of people in aged care facilities overseas have already received the Pfizer vaccine.    

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.

Should pregnant women receive a vaccine?

It’s best to talk to your healthcare team about the benefits and risks of receiving a vaccine while pregnant. The Department of Health has information for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning pregnancy 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.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has issued a statement saying that there is no proven link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots.

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.

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