Healthcare professionals are reliable sources of information you can trust about COVID-19 vaccinations. It’s a great idea to book in and chat through your questions, but that can be easier said than done if you’re a bit unsure about your situation. Remember, you’re allowed to say what you’re feeling, ask for more explanation or take time to decide. Let’s walk through some scenarios and ways you can communicate what you’re feeling.

You’re feeling comfortable with getting vaccinated and your doctor has explained things to you, but you’re still unclear on how a certain aspect of your health might be impacted.

Suggestions:

When you feel unsure, try repeating back what you’ve understood to the healthcare professional. That helps them know what to explain. On the other hand, if you feel like they haven’t quite understood your concerns, don’t be afraid to repeat them. Some ways to open these conversations could be:

  • “I’m not quite sure about how it would impact this part of my health. Could you explain that in more detail?”
  • “Could you explain why you recommend that for me?”
  • “I want to get vaccinated, but I recently had this procedure/treatment. What’s your advice?”
  • “I’m not sure we’re speaking about the same thing. What I mean is that I’m concerned about...”
A doctor explaining a document to a patient.

A doctor explaining a document to a patient.

You’ve seen a healthcare professional to discuss getting vaccinated, but feel overwhelmed to decide on the spot.

Suggestions:

It’s okay to feel this way! A lot of the time all you need to feel clearer about something is time to sleep on it and reflect on all the information you’ve gotten. Still, it can feel nerve-wracking to pause the decision when you’re in the moment, so here are some ways to do that:

  • “Thanks for this information, I just want to have a think about it first.”
  • “Thanks for this information, I want to also discuss it with my family/my other healthcare provider/another trusted person before I decide for sure.”
  • “I don’t feel ready to do this today, what are my other options?”
  • “Can I come back when I can bring someone with me to my appointment?”

You’re on hormone replacement treatment (HRT) and don’t know what to expect after you get vaccinated.

Suggestions:

Some people who have had a COVID-19 vaccine have anecdotally reported short-term changes to their periods (see below for more information). This is an important consideration for people on HRT. Speak to a doctor that understands HRT and gender-affirming healthcare about this.

If the doctor you usually see is not available, or you don’t live close to one, you might consider telehealth with a doctor in a different location to ask your vaccine-related questions. The following services offer queer-friendly health professionals:

These are pages to find other queer-friendly health professionals:

If you want to get vaccinated, you can plan some things together with your healthcare professional/s or other trusted people that would make you feel safe if you experienced some period changes.

A young person and a health professional looking at a document together.

A young person and a health professional looking at a document together.

You want to know if the COVID-19 vaccines will impact your period or fertility.

Some people have reported changes in their menstrual cycle after receiving COVID-19 vaccinations.

Some have said their periods arrived early or were heavier than usual. Some others have said their period was absent or late.

Also, some people on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) who no longer have periods have reported bleeding post-vaccine. Some people who have been through menopause have also reported bleeding post-vaccine.

In most cases, people have said these changes appear to be temporary. They have said things returned to normal within a few weeks.

If you do notice any bleeding that is unusual for you, you should consider contacting your doctor.

Some things to consider:

  • The Flu and HPV vaccines are safe and have been around for decades. Some people report experiencing temporary changes to their periods after receiving these vaccines. Given this, it wouldn’t be surprising if COVID-19 vaccines also have a brief impact on periods.
  • Many factors affect period patterns, including stress, anxiety and nutrition. Given this, it is difficult to be certain that the cause is the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • We do know the COVID-19 vaccines do not affect fertility. Vaccination will not affect you or your partner’s fertility or the health of your future baby or babies.

Source: Victorian Department of Health

If you want to discuss this further with your GP, consider what will help you feel relaxed and empowered to speak about periods or fertility. For example:

  • Booking a doctor who shares lived experience with you - for example, the same gender or same faith
  • Bringing a support person
  • Discussing what you can do to make you feel comfortable if you do experience some period changes (such as pain relief or sick leave, for example)

See more tips for talking to your GP

You’ve had the vaccine and are experiencing some uncomfortable symptoms afterwards. You want to check in with a healthcare professional about this.

Suggestions:

Doctors want to know if you aren’t feeling well. If it’s an emergency, call 000. For mild symptoms, call your doctor and see if they (or another doctor you feel comfortable seeing) are available.

If a doctor isn’t available, you can:

  • Ask to speak to the A practice nurse is a nurse who works at a medical centre. They can often give you advice over the phone about what to do when you're feeling unwell.practice nurse, who will be able to advise you on what to do.
  • Call Nurse On Call on 1300 606 024 and get an over-the-phone assessment from a registered nurse.
  • Call the National Home Doctor Service on 13SICK (13 74 25). This is an after-hours doctor service that is free if you have a Medicare card.

There is a lot of information to understand about the COVID-19 vaccination program and what it means for your health, and the health of those around you. Healthcare professionals are here to answer your questions and support you.

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