Health Check

COVID-19 vaccine rollout. What does it mean for international students?

Find out more about the COVID-19 vaccine in Australia, and when you might receive your COVID-19 vaccination.

Written by Editor Medibank
African family get vaccinated at home during pandemic times.

With COVID-19 vaccinations now underway across Australia, we’ve put together some useful information and advice from government health departments.

Firstly, the COVID-19 vaccination is free of charge for most people living in Australia, including international students and workers*.

Why vaccinate?

The COVID-19 vaccine will help protect you and your friends from serious health issues related to COVID-19.

Vaccines train our immune system to recognise specific viruses and fight against them. 

The more people are vaccinated, the less likely the virus is to spread, helping to protect those in the community who may not be able to be vaccinated, such as children or pregnant women.

Is it safe?

All COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Australia have undergone extensive clinical trials, strict testing and monitoring by the Australian government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to check for their effectiveness and safety.

Are there any side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Some may experience minor side effects a few days after vaccination, such as pain, redness and/or swelling to the needle site, or mild fever. Allergic reactions are extremely rare. Please speak to your doctor or call the COVID-19 helpline if you have any concerns about side effects.

Severe allergic reactions are extremely rare, but it’s recommended you stay at the clinic for 15 minutes following the vaccine to monitor for any reaction.

On April 8, the Australian Government has announced changes to the rollout of the Astra Zeneca vaccine due to potential risk of blood clots in those aged under 50. Visit the Department of Health website for the latest information. 

Is the vaccine compulsory?

No, however the government strongly recommends vaccination as it’s the most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and save lives.

When can I get vaccinated?

This depends on which risk group you fall under. People at greatest risk – for example, frontline healthcare workers, aged care or disability care residents - will be prioritised and vaccinated first.

Use the Health Direct Vaccine Eligibility Checker to see when you may be able to receive your vaccination.

If you’re studying a medical, nursing or allied health degree, please check with your education provider to see if you’re eligible for prioritised COVID-19 vaccination.

And where can I get vaccinated?

Most international students will need to get vaccinated at their local state or territory vaccine clinic, not their GP clinic. International students with a Medicare card will also have the option of going to their GP for vaccination.

Will it cost anything to get vaccinated?

The COVID-19 vaccination is free for most people living in Australia, including students and workers from overseas*.

Is there more than one type of COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, at this stage, both the Pfizer and Astra Zeneca vaccines have been approved for use in Australia. Both have passed rigorous testing and have proven to be effective at preventing COVID-19 symptoms and protecting against severe COVID-19 disease. Visit the Dept of Health website to learn which vaccine you may receive.

On April 8, the Australian Government has announced changes to the rollout of the Astra Zeneca vaccine due to potential risk of blood clots in those aged under 50. Visit the Department of Health website for the latest information. 

Anything else to do before getting vaccinated?

We recommend checking the government COVID-19 vaccine page regularly for updates. Apply for an Individual Health Identifier so that you can keep a record of your vaccination.

And don’t forget to practise good hygiene, maintain physical distancing and observe all rules relating to limits on gatherings. And be sure to isolate and get tested as soon as you suspect any of the symptoms of COVID-19.

Need information in another language?

Please visit the government’s COVID-19 vaccine page with multiple language options available and be sure to share the link with anyone else who could benefit from it.

Some useful links about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout

For reliable, up-to-date information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine program, we recommend the following resources.

  • For more information about the vaccine and the nationwide rollout, visit the Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine page
  • Subscribe to the latest COVID-19 vaccine updates here
  • Find your state or territory health departments here
  • Or check with your education provider’s health service/clinic

You can also call the National coronavirus & COVID-19 vaccine helpline on 1800 020 080.

COVID-19 FAQs are also available on your Medibank OSHC app. For health information and support, Medibank OSHC members can call the 24/7 Student Health and Support line on 1800 887 283.


*Excluding visa sub-classes 771 (Transit), 600 (Tourism stream), 651 (eVisitor) and 601 (Electronic Travel Authority).

On April 8, the Australian Government has announced changes to the rollout of the Astra Zeneca vaccine due to potential risk of blood clots in those aged under 50. Visit the Dept of Health website for the latest information.

24/7 Student Health and Support Line

Need support? Medibank Overseas Student Health Cover members can call 1800 887 283 anytime for health advice from a registered nurse, counselling services, emergency legal advice, travel document assistance, interpreter service and more.

Written by Editor Medibank

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