COVID-19 Vaccination Information for Thalassaemia and Sickle Cell Anaemia

Produced by clinicians from Monash Health, Royal Melbourne Hospital and Western Health.


COVID 19 is a highly contagious virus that has high hospitalisation rates as well as mortality, particularly for those with underlying medical conditions which make them more vulnerable. Both sickle cell and thalassaemia have been designated as vulnerable conditions in the context of risk for hospitalisation and death from COVID. Vaccines are the best available defence against severe COVID 19 disease and death. 

The Thalassaemia International Federation has categorized “highest risk” and “high risk” thalassaemia with any two of the following: 

  • Over the age of 50 years 
  • Transfusion dependent 
  • Non- transfused with haemoglobin less than 70g/L for more than two years 
  • Receiving iron chelation therapy 
  • Splenectomised persons or persons with asplenia 
  • Other medical conditions – diabetes, heart disease, lung disease 

Therefore, all international advocacy groups for haemoglobinopathies including Thalassaemia  International Federation (TIF), the American Society of Hematology (ASH) and Cooleys Anaemia Foundation strongly recommended that all haemoglobinopathy patients be vaccinated against COVID-19.

COVID-19 Vaccines 

There are currently 2 types of vaccines available in Australia; MRNA vaccines (Pfizer BioNTech COVID 19) and viral vector vaccines which have been modified so they cannot grow in humans (AstraZeneca). Both vaccines are extremely effective at reducing hospitalisation and severe disease and death. This has been demonstrated in large clinical trials involving tens of thousands of participants. Additionally, both vaccines are extremely safe and have been given to millions of people globally with overwhelmingly very limited severe side effects. 

Currently, anyone aged over 12 years is eligible for COVID-19 immunization. 

Is COVID-19 immunization recommended for people with thalassaemia? 

COVID-19 vaccines are NOT contraindicated and strongly encouraged for adults and youth, including those who have had COVID-19 infection. Parents, carers and family members of those with thalassaemia and sickle cell also need to be vaccinated to avoid passing it on to affected family members. 

As you are aware, Victoria is currently experiencing large numbers of COVID 19 cases. Indeed, hospitalisation rate, ICU admissions and numbers of patients requiring ventilator support are increasing. It is therefore imperative that you as well as your family and friends get vaccinated as soon as possible. 

It is the most important health measure you can take to protect yourself, your family and your community from severe illness and death from COVID-19. 

New TIF Resources: Thalassaemia Guidelines and COVID-19 Vaccination Guide

It’s Here: The 4th Edition of TIF Guidelines for The Management of TDT 

TIF, its Board of Directors and its International Scientific Advisory Board proudly present the 4th Edition of the Federation’s most prestigious and renowned publication, the TIF Guidelines for The Management of Transfusion- Dependent Thalassaemia (TDT).

Since 1999, when the very first edition was originally released as part of the Federation’s Educational Programme, the TIF Guidelines have been adopted and used extensively by academics, researchers and healthcare professionals all over the world as the only evidence-based reference text concerning the treatment of patients with TDT.

The newly launched edition includes brand new chapters on the recently approved modalities of patient treatment, the value of patient engagement at the decision-making level, the Reference Centres’ contribution to patient care, and much more.

We are confident that these Guidelines will offer once again valuable information to all allied physicians involved in the treatment of patients with this blood disorder and will consequently benefit the global thalassaemia community many times over. 

The June Update: TIF’s Guide on COVID-19 Vaccinations and Therapeutic Drugs 

As vaccination rates are slowing in the US and Europe, the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant causes growing concerns worldwide with health experts predicting the highly infectious strain to soon account for the majority of COVID-19 cases globally.

In our latest Guide on ‘COVID-19 Vaccinations and Therapeutic Drugs’, we have gathered the latest news, updates, and the information you need about: 

  • the current status of COVID-19 vaccinations in major countries and regions  
  • the clinical development and production of COVID-19 vaccines 
  • a breakdown of differences between the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines 
  • the COVID-19 variants and the existing vaccines’ effectiveness 
  • the COVID-19 vaccines in Phase 3 clinical trials 

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s COVID Vaccine Preparedness survey

COVID-19 vaccine delivery may be prioritised for people aged 70 years-old and older, and for adults with chronic conditions like heart disease, respiratory conditions, diabetes, neurological conditions, immunocompromising conditions, renal disease or haematological disorders.

If you’re in one of these groups, we want to hear from you!

What do you want to know about the COVID-19 vaccines, and how do you want to get that information?

Never before have we undertaken a vaccine program on this scale. We want to understand what is needed to help you make decisions about getting vaccinated. Help shape the Victorian COVID-19 vaccination communication strategy by completing the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s COVID Vaccine Preparedness survey:

This online survey takes 10 minutes and can be completed anonymously. Participants can enter to win one of eight gift vouchers.

This study is led by researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute with partners from the University of Melbourne, Monash University, The University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales. It is funded by the Victorian Department of Health.

To learn more about the study and complete the survey, click HERE

Please share this survey with family and friends who may be eligible. If you have any questions, please contact Dr Jessica Kaufman 03 9345 4890 or

Introducing: TASCA’s Podcast

In TASCA’s first podcast, Sam talks with TASCA’s Vice-Chair, Robbin, about life as a thalassaemia and sickle cell affected family during the current COVID-19 quarantine.

Join us as we explore topics that are relevant right now to patients and families living with genetic blood disorders in Australia.

Views and opinions expressed on this podcast are those of the host and guests and do not necessarily express TASCA’s official policy and position.

COVID-19 Resources

The TASCA team has compiled the following resources for information and support during the COVID-19 pandemic. This page will be updated as more resources become available. 

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, shortness of breath or sore throat) do not go to your GP or a hospital. Call your local GP clinic or hospital to be given advice. If you have severe symptoms call 000 immediately.


General Support:

Mental Health Support: