With vaccinations rolling out comprehensively around the world, we will see borders re-open to travel, and importantly we will see families reunited all over the world. For many, that means returning to Australia, but an important step is to make sure your vaccine is recognized before you travel. So how do you register your overseas vaccination in Australia?
There are a number of steps to check through so be sure to follow the guidelines carefully, and if you have any questions you should reach out to the Australian Government's Department of Health and Services Australia.
Which vaccines are currently recognized in Australia?
Not all vaccines are valid in Australia at this time, so it's important to make sure that the one you received is on the approved list.
COVID-19 vaccines are approved for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), and the list they maintain is the one that you need to check against which can be found here.
To date, the following vaccines have been given provisional approval:
- Moderna (SPIKEVAX)
- For individuals aged 18 years and over – 9 August 2021
- For individuals aged 12 years and over – 3 September 2021
- Johnson & Johnson (Janssen-Cilag)
- For individuals aged 18 years and over – 25 June 2021
- AstraZeneca (VAXZERVIA)
- For individuals aged 18 years and over – 15 February 2021
- Pfizer (COMIRNATY – BNT162b2)
- For individuals aged 16 years and over – 25 January 2021
- For individuals aged 12 years and over – 22 July 2021
Other vaccines have not yet been approved in Australia, so therefore cannot be registered:
If you receive a COVID-19 Pfizer Comirnaty, AstraZeneca Vaxzevria, Moderna Spikevax or Janssen-Cilag (also known as Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine while overseas, you can register your vaccination on the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) when you return to Australia. At this time, if you've received a COVID-19 vaccine overseas which is not one of these vaccines you cannot have it added to the AIR.https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/COVID-19/COVID-19-vaccinations
Does it matter what date you got the vaccine?
Yes. According to Services Australia, there are two requirements:
… you received it on or after 1 March 2020.https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/help-adding-overseas-covid-19-vaccinations-to-australian-immunisation-register-air?context=60091
How do you prove you are vaccinated overseas in Australia?
Australia recognizes any English (or translated) official document from around the world pertaining to vaccines in that country.
If you choose to get vaccinated locally, make sure to only go through the official vaccination program for the destination you’re in. Ignore offers of vaccines from unverified sources. Scammers are selling products claiming to prevent or treat COVID-19 without proof of what they contain or whether they work.https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/COVID-19/COVID-19-vaccinations
How to register your overseas vaccination in Australia
The process is relatively simple, but will require a few steps:
- Obtain proof of vaccination
First you must obtain proof of your vaccination from your provider when you receive the vaccine (For those in the US, this is the official CDC-branded white card you received when you got each of your shots)
- Present the proof of vaccination
Bring the proof of vaccination to Australia when you return (FYI the proof must be translated to English if it’s in another language)
- Check your Medicare Online Account
Make sure your Medicare online account is up to date (if applicable – for more information on Medicare I've written about that here).
- Provide a Recognized Vaccination Provider with proof
The list of places you can visit starts with your GP (as this is the easiest, if you still have one) and also includes:
- local council or community health clinics
- Aboriginal Medical Services
- school based immunisation programs
- travel medicine clinics
- public hospitals
- staff occupational health clinics
- aged care facilities
Take your card in there, and you will be able to officially register your vaccination in Australia! This card can also be used when moving around for those who do not have valid Medicare, and we're sure to see more information coming out in the coming months regarding what tourists can do to prove their vaccination records.
Can I register my vaccination before traveling to Australia?
Not at this time. However, if you do have regular contact with a GP who knows you, there may be a possibility you can reach out to them, show them your proof of vaccination, and have them registerit while you are abroad, however this will be very case-by-case and is not guaranteed.
An important note about your vaccination card and proof
That small piece of paper might be the only proof you've got readily available to show you're fully vaccinated, and it's therefore incredibly important.
Be sure to take a photo of it for your phone, and also print out an additional copy (or two) just in case you lose track of the original.
You may even want to get a copy witnessed so that you can use it with some weight in case of an emergency.