Any medication, including vaccines, may have potentially serious side effects including a severe allergic reaction, such as anaphylaxis.
The risk of developing severe reactions after receiving a vaccine is extremely rare.
Your doctor or nurse is trained to recognise and manage any immediate, severe reactions.
A severe, anaphylactic reaction will generally occur within the first 15 minutes after receiving a vaccine, so it is important for you to wait at the place you have received your vaccination so that you can be observed for any reaction.
Surveillance for adverse events following immunisation
An adverse event following immunisation (AEFI) is an unwanted or unexpected event occurring after a vaccine has been given.
Such an event may be caused by the vaccine or may occur by chance after vaccination (that is, it would have occurred regardless of vaccination).
Vaccines can cause minor adverse events such as low-grade fever, pain or redness at the injection site, these symptoms are short lived.
Surveillance of AEFI is an integral part of a national vaccination program. Under the Health (Notification of Adverse Event After Immunisation) Regulations 1995, all WA medical officers are required to report any adverse events of concern to the Department of Health, providing a full description of the reaction to the vaccine.
This enables WA Health to identify new and unexpected AEFI and respond accordingly.
Reporting an adverse event
Not all side effects need to be reported such as, soreness or redness at the injection site or a slight fever that lasts less than a day. Read more aboutcommon minor side effects to vaccines that do not require reporting (PDF 43KB) (external site).
If you experience a significant AEFI you should tell your doctor what happened, the date and time it happened, and when you had the vaccination.
If your doctor is not available call healthdirect Australia on 1800 022 222. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A registered nurse will provide free advice about your health issues and concerns.
You can also report the reaction yourself using Western Australian Vaccine Safety Surveillance System (WAVSS) online (external site) or by calling the Central Immunisation Clinic on telephone 9321 1312, Monday to Friday, 8.30 am to 4.30 pm.
Find out more about adverse events and reporting them.