The rollout of Australia’s first coronavirus vaccine has now begun, and the government says everyone who wants to receive the jabs will be offered them by the end of October 2021.

Key points:At this stage, there’s no need to register for the COVID-19 vaccinePeople part of the phase 1A rollout will likely be contacted by their employersOther Australians can learn more, later, via the government’s public information campaign

But how do you prepare for the COVID vaccine — and is there anything you need to do beforehand?

Learn the rollout schedule

It’s worth familiarising yourself with the Australian government’s vaccine rollout schedule, and knowing where you fit in it.

This week, top-tier priority groups (which includes people in aged care facilities and quarantine workers) will start getting the Pfizer vaccine.

If you’re part of the phase 1A cohort, the government or your employer will get in touch with you to organise your jab.

If you’re in a later group, it’s a good idea to stay COVID-safe and wait for further updates.

The Department of Health says future updates will be provided via a public information campaign.

LIVE UPDATES: Read our blog for the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic.

A spokeswoman said the government’s campaign “will keep Australians fully informed and up to date about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines as they become available, including when, how and where to get the vaccination.

You can expect to see information about the COVID-19 rollout from the Department of Health on television, radio, online and across your social media.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.WatchDuration: 4 minutes 2 seconds4m 2s How will the coronavirus vaccine work?Preparing for the appointment

At this stage, there’s no need to register to be vaccinated, although you may be able to register online for the jab as the rollout progresses.

Australians can already access their immunisation history statement through Medicare for proof of vaccination, digitally and in hard copy, if they need to.

After getting the vaccine, information about your COVID-19 vaccination status will be available here, which is why prior to getting vaccinated, the government is urging Australians to make sure their details are up to date with Medicare or enrol if they’re not already.

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Lara Herrero from Griffith University’s Institute for Glycomics also recommends not binging on alcohol the night before, making sure you get enough sleep and having a good breakfast in the lead-up to getting the jab.

Research published in the International Journal of Behaviour Medicine last year found adequate sleep prior to flu vaccines was associated with enhanced vaccine efficacy.

But it’s worth noting the research relied on self-reporting and involved a small sample size.

Dr Herrero said looking after your immune system — by eating well, getting enough sleep, and not overextending yourself physically in the lead-up — could help to protect against an adverse reaction to the vaccine itself, such as feeling faint, nauseated or unwell afterwards.

But Dr Herrero said this would not apply to an allergic reaction to the vaccine.

“If someone is going to be allergic to the vaccine, they’re going to be allergic to the vaccine if they’ve had excellent sleep or had no sleep. It doesn’t really change that response,” she said.

Magdalena Plebanski, a professor of immunology at RMIT University, said it was generally a good idea to look after your immune system — especially during a pandemic — but she stopped short of advising anything more specific when it came to preparing yourself to be vaccinated.

She said it was important to put the findings that link better flu vaccine success with more sleep into perspective.

“We need to be very cautious about publications where it’s not really a proper double-blinded randomised trial with controls,” Professor Plebanski said.

“This this just an observation at this time, this is not fact.”

Read more about COVID-19 vaccines:If you’re sick, defer your appointment

There are a few reasons why you should not attend your vaccination appointment, but if in doubt, call your doctor to discuss rescheduling.

These reasons include:

if you are unwell with fever, cough, runny nose or other COVID-like symptomshave had a coronavirus test and are waiting on the resultshave tested positive and should be in isolationare in quarantineor are a close contact of someone who has tested positive.

“It’s just not advisable to go in and have any vaccine without feeling completely healthy yourself,” Dr Herrero said.

Dr Herrero doesn’t recommend binge drinking the night before getting a COVID jab.(Pixabay: bridgesward)Wait 15 minutes afterwards

After getting the coronavirus vaccine, it’s important to wait 15 minutes before leaving your appointment to make sure you don’t have an adverse reaction to the vaccine.

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People who have a history of anaphylaxis to any antigen (including food, insect stings or medicines) or an adrenaline autoinjector (such as an EpiPen) should let medical professionals know, and be monitored for 30 minutes after the vaccine.

Magdalena Plebanski, a professor of immunology at RMIT University, said it was important to try to relax beforehand and stay as calm as possible.

“The connection between the brain and the immune system is a real thing, so the more we are actually looking after our mental health is a good thing,” Professor Plebanski said.

“Stress does suppress your immune system, so be relaxed, take it as a real positive thing: ‘thank goodness we can get this vaccine and life can go back to being a bit more normal.'”

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