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Saturday, March 6, 2021

Australia's TGA Rewrites Probitions on COVID-19 Vaccine Advertising

The Australian Government's Therapeutics Goods Administration (the TGA) substantially revised its prohibions on advertising COVID-19 vaccines (link opens in a new tab) on 2 March 2021. 

The TGA's earlier version of 22 February 2021 is available on the internet archive "Wayback Machine" -  advertising COVID-19 vaccines - version of 22 February 2021 (link opens in a new tab)

  • Added text is shown with underlining.
  • Deleted text from 22 February 2021 is shown with strikethrough.

Home » Safety information » COVID-19 vaccines » COVID-19 vaccine advertising and import compliance

Advertising COVID-19 vaccines to the Australian public

There are rules that you must follow if you wish to Government advertising content is available to assist you to advertise COVID-19 vaccines without breaking the rules

22 February2 March 2021

The advertising of prescription medicines (including vaccines) to consumers is generally prohibited in Australia. However, some exceptions (such as the use of specific promotional materials to advertise COVID-19 vaccines has been authorised materials) are in place to support the roll-out of theCOVID-19 vaccines across Australia.

As part of the Australian Government Department of Health, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulates the advertising of therapeutic goods in Australia. This fact sheet explains how vaccine providers and other parties maycan lawfully advertise theprovide information about and promote COVID-19 vaccinevaccines without risking penalties for breachinga breach of the prohibition on advertising prescription medicines.

Consultations are exempt from advertising requirements

Information shared between a doctor, pharmacist or nurse and their patient during consultation or treatment is not subject to the advertising rules for therapeutic goods including the prohibition on advertising prescription medicines. For example, if a patient asks their doctor what brand of vaccine they will be receiving the doctor can provide advice to the patient without risk of breaching the advertising laws.

Advertising COVID-19 vaccines lawfully

People wanting to advertise (i.e. promote) the COVID-19 vaccines can use a range of government advertising content to inform consumers about, and facilitate access to, the vaccines. Advertisers, including doctors and pharmacists, can also add to this material to advise consumers of when and where the vaccines are available.

Specifically, it is acceptable to:

Advertisers must not:

*       use self-developed advertising about COVID-19 vaccines

Advertisers can:

*      use Australian Government produced materials to promote COVID-19 vaccines

*      use materials produced by Australian state or territory governments to promote COVID-19 vaccines

*      provideadd factual information to government materials to assist the public in obtaining the vaccine such as:

o    the location of the COVID-19 vaccination service

o    times vaccines are administered or opening hours of the service provider

o    whether there is a need for an appointment to receive the vaccination and how to make one

*      provide the factual information listed above, independently to government materials, to assist the public in obtaining the vaccine.

When using government materials, advertisers must:

*      ensure that the materials are:

o    genuine

o    not altered or added to, other than to record the factual information described above i.e. logistical information

o    not used in a way that may alter the take-home message for consumers, through either placement of the materials or proximity to other promotional materials

Government produced materials may be used in all communication channels including on websites, as flyers, in newsletters, in social media or emails, or as posters as well as in the windows and on the walls at vaccine providers, clinics, pharmacies, and other businesses. Businesses with an interest in disseminating information about the availability of the vaccine may also use the materials in their newsletters, social media and emails.

In using government materials to promote COVID-19 vaccines, advertisers must be careful not to add:

*       the tradename and/or active ingredient of the specific vaccine or other information that might enable consumers to identify the particular vaccine or the manufacturer of the vaccine

*       statements or the implication that harmful effects will result from not receiving the vaccine

*       statements or the implication that the vaccine offered is superior to other vaccines (e.g. a statement about the efficacy against a particular strain)

*       incentives to encourage a consumer to obtain the service or vaccine

*       any comparisons between vaccines (even if supported by evidence)

Advertisers must not:

*       use self-developed advertising about COVID-19 vaccines

The TGA has powers to issue directions to advertisers, impose fines or pursue court action for breaking the advertising laws. In regulating the advertising of therapeutic goods the TGA uses a range of compliance approaches from education and assisted compliance through to more serious compliance action such as issuing directions, fines or pursuing court action.

Factual and balanced information may not be advertising

Presenting factual and balanced information about the COVID-19 vaccines is unlikely to be considered as advertising or promotional, subject to the context in which the information is presented. Some examples of this include:

  • a doctor providing their general view in relation to vaccination broadly (provided they do not promote individual vaccines - COVID-19 or otherwise)
  • technical information relating to how the vaccines were developed and manufactured
  • sharing scientific reports from reputable sources (like the World Health Organization) about vaccination
  • re-tweeting or sharing valuable news-worthy information from reputable sources about the COVID-19 vaccines that would not have the effect of promoting the vaccines; or
  • presenting comprehensive information that doesn't emphasise the benefits over, for example, the risks and limitations.

As a general guideline, if the content persuades consumers, for example through the use of promotional terms or language, to seek out COVID-19 vaccines, then it would be considered advertising.

Further information





Facebook post

Downtown Medical Centre

You can now get vaccinated against COVID-19 at the Downtown Medical Centre. Available Monday to Friday from 9am - 9pm. Call 9999 9999 for an appointment.

Facebook post (all content self developed)

Downtown Medical Centre

A COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect you and your family from falling seriously ill!

You can now get your COVID-19 vaccination at the Downtown Medical Centre. Available Monday to Friday from 9am - 9pm. Just walk-in and enjoy a free cappuccino while you wait.

Video of patient receiving a vaccine and saying "Wow that didn't hurt at all!".

Facebook post

Downtown Pharmacy

You can now get the COVID-19 vaccine at Downtown Pharmacy. Available Monday to Friday from 9am - 9pm. Call 9999 9990 for an appointment.

<image - Australian Government social media tile showing vaccine is free(link is external)>

Other regulatory requirements

Advertising to consumers, whether for a product or service, is regulated under the Australian Consumer Law(link is external).

Registered health professionals are also subject to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency's Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service(link is external).