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 are currently being offered to those eligible for Phase Ib. 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, Commonwealth Vaccination and state and territory vaccination clinics. You can find a list of clinics offering vaccination and book an appointment here.

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 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.

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.

I’m worried about blood clotting, should I still get vaccinated?

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.

In Australia, the Pfizer vaccine is now preferred for people under 50, due to the small increased risk of TTS in younger adults. The Australian Government has advised that the benefits of vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine still outweigh the risks for anyone aged over 50, and is recommending that all Australians be vaccinated against COVID-19.

For more information, 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.

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