Safety and first aid

Vaccination safety

  • Immunisation reduces the risk of catching and spreading diseases.
  • Severe side-effects from vaccines are rare and common side effects are usually mild and short lasting.
  • The risk of developing health complications is higher than the risks of immunisation.

Vaccination refers to the act of giving a vaccine to a person. A vaccine is the material used to immunise people against diseases.

Like any other medication, vaccines can have side effects. Side effects after vaccination are usually mild and short-lasting and do not need special treatment.

If the side effects seem severe or persistent, for example an ongoing high fever, breathing difficulties or convulsions seek medical advice.

Read more about the possible side effects of vaccination.

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.


Medical and Nurse Practitioners have a statutory responsibility to notify AEFI to the Chief Health Officer, as per the requirements of the Public Health Act 2016 and the Public Health Regulations 2017. Notifications using the WAVSS online reporting system satisfies the requirement to notify cases to the Director of the Communicable Disease Control Directorate, who is the delegate of the Chief Health Officer.

This enables WA Health to identify new and unexpected AEFI and respond accordingly.


Not all adverse reactions 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 about common minor side effects to vaccines that do not require reporting.

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 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 the Western Australian Vaccine Safety Surveillance system (WAVSS) (external site) or by calling the WA AEFI reporting line on telephone (08) 6456 0208 from 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday (except public holidays).

Find out more about WA Vaccine Safety Surveillance System for consumers or for health professionals (WA Health).

Vaccine Safety Net

The World Health Organization (WHO) has compiled a network of websites across the world that provide reliable information about vaccine safety. Visit Vaccine Safety Net (external site) to access global websites that have been evaluated by WHO as providing accurate, reliable information.

Australia’s National Centre for Immunisation Research (external site) and Northern Rivers Vaccination Supporters (external site) are among those in the network.

Where to get help

Public Health

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

Where can I get my vaccine?