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Information updates

New and Updated ASCIA COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

The following two new ASCIA COVID-19 Vaccination FAQs have been added to, in response to questions about the Pfizer and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.

FAQ 3: Does mRNA which is used in the Pfizer vaccine integrate into our own DNA? 

No. The mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is only taken up in the body of our cells, known as the cytoplasm, and is then quickly destroyed. The mRNA is not taken up in the nucleus of our cells, which contains our DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). The mRNA is coded to instruct our cells to produce the non-infectious SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus spike protein, which triggers an immune response to the spike protein, ready to protect you if you encounter the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. 

FAQ 4: Will we become infected with the chimpanzee adenovirus that is used in the AstraZeneca vaccine?

No. The adenovirus in the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is the vehicle (like a taxi or uber) that carries the genetic material of the non-infectious SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus spike protein into the body of our cells, known as the cytoplasm. This causes our cells to produce the spike protein, which triggers an immune response to the spike protein, ready to protect you if you encounter the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The adenovirus cannot reproduce in humans and is destroyed.

Another recent addition to the ASCIA COVID-19 FAQ (17) and Position Statement is the addition a link to the following publication: 

COVID-19 vaccination decision guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning pregnancy has been developed by the Australian Government and is available at

The following information is unchanged, but has been highlighted in bold in the FAQ (2) and Position Statement:

This is in response to recent media reports about a very small number of possible allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines, which may have caused unwarranted alarm for some people:

COVID-19 vaccines approved and available in Australia and New Zealand are not live-attenuated vaccines and are safe for people with immune system disorders, including allergy, immunodeficiency or autoimmune conditions.  Allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines are rare. However, if there is a high risk of an allergic reaction to one of the vaccines, it may be possible to have another vaccine, subject to availability and medical advice.  

As stated in the ASCIA Position statement about Allergy and COVID-19, vaccinations in the community should have a post-vaccination observation period of 15 minutes.  A post-vaccination observation period of 30 minutes should only be required in people who have: 

  • Immediate (within four hours) and generalised symptoms of a possible allergic reaction without anaphylaxis to a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Generalised allergic reaction (without anaphylaxis) to one of the ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccine to be administered (Pfizer-PEG or AstraZeneca-Polysorbate 80).
  • Prior history of anaphylaxis to previous vaccines and/or multiple drugs (injectable and/or oral) where ingredients such as PEG or polysorbate 80 may conceivably be the cause.
  • A known systemic mast cell activation disorder with raised mast cell tryptase, that requires treatment.

Further information

ASCA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) COVID-19 Vaccination (patients, consumers, carers)

ASCA Position Statement COVID-19 Vaccination (health professionals)

ASCIA Guide Allergy and COVID-19 Vaccination (health professionals)

ASCIA Guide Immunodeficiency, Autoimmunity and COVID-19 Vaccination (health professionals)

ASCIA COVID-19 webpage