SAEFVIC is the central reporting service in Victoria for any significant adverse event following immunisation (AEFI). It is a public health partnership initiative of the Victorian Immunisation Program and is funded by the Department of Health, Victoria.

All immunisations are medications and all medications do have minor, common or expected side effects. An AEFI is any unexpected or severe side effect that can happen following the administration of any immunisation. Such an event may be caused by the immunisation itself or may be unrelated and occur by chance after the immunisation. Severe side effects from vaccines are rare and common side effects are usually mild and short-lasting. An AEFI can also be an error related to the way a vaccine was stored, prepared or administered.

  • What should be reported?

    You should report:

    • Any event felt to be significant following immunisation, regardless of whether you think the side effect was related to the vaccine or not
    • Any expected symptoms that have not gone away after a few days
    • Any side effects following an immunisation which requires assessment by a doctor or nurse
    • Suspected shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA)
    • Any immunisation administration errors
  • What does not need reporting?

    You do not need to routinely report:

    • Minor, common or expected side effects
      • These may include pain, redness, swelling and tenderness at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, nausea, fever and chills, feeling unwell or joint pain
      • For further details of minor, common or expected side effects to National Immunisation Program (NIP) and influenza vaccines refer to Vaccine Side Effects
      • For further details of minor, common and expected side effects following COVID-19 vaccines refer to After your AstraZeneca Vaccine and After your Pfizer (COMIRNATY) Vaccine
  • Why report to SAEFVIC?

    • All data related to AEFI is confidentially collected and analysed as part of vaccine safety monitoring in Victoria
    • Any trends or signals in adverse events are notified and investigated quickly, in close liaison with Victorian and national health authorities (Therapeutic Goods Administration)
    • SAEFVIC provides individualised clinical assistance for patients and families affected by an AEFI. This may be done via a face-to-face appointment with a specialist, telehealth consultation with a specialist or with an immunisation nurse over the phone
  • Should a patient be referred to a specialist immunisation clinic after experiencing AEFI?

    • Although there are some adverse events which prevent individuals from having further immunisations, for the majority of people future immunisation is still recommended.
    • SAEFVIC can facilitate specialist immunisation appointments for children and adults who have experienced a severe AEFI or who have complex immunisation requirements. During these consultations, immunisation plans can be discussed and individualised, with any recommended immunisations administered under medical supervision.
    • The VicSIS Network proves specialist immunisation services for adults who have experienced a severe AEFI following a COVID-19 vaccine, or those who have are identified as at risk of an AEFI (for example, people with a history of anaphylaxis). For further information, refer to MVEC: The VicSIS Network.

Anyone who experiences a severe AEFI should first seek medical attention from a health professional. Please see your GP, local emergency department or call 000 if immediate assistance is required. NB: SAEFVIC is not an emergency contact. Hours of operation are Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm.

Authors: Nigel Crawford (Director, SAEFVIC, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute), Georgina Lewis (Clinical Manager, SAEFVIC, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute) and Rachael McGuire (Research Nurse, SAEFVIC, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute)

Reviewed by: Rachael McGuire (MVEC Education Nurse Coordinator) and Francesca Machingaifa (MVEC Education Nurse Coordinator)

Date: April 2021

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre (MVEC) staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family’s personal health. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult a healthcare professional.