Rongoā whakanoa Antiviral medicine

The medicine fights the virus and reduces the amount of COVID-19 in your body. It reduces the chance you will get seriously māuiui. The medicine is in tablet form and can be taken at home.

You will need to take the medicine for five days.

You may be eligible for free antiviral medicine if you:

  • are Māori and 50 and older
  • have a severely weakened immune system
  • have three or more health conditions that put you at higher risk of getting seriously māuiui from COVID-19
  • are living at the same whare as someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and you have symptoms.

Pacific people aged 50 and over and all other New Zealanders aged 65 and over are also eligible for antiviral medicine.

You can read more about who is eligible on the Manatū Hauora COVID-19 Health Hub website.

Free medicines to treat COVID-19

These include common illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and lung disease.

You can read more on the Manatū Hauora COVID-19 Health Hub website.

Free medicines to treat COVID-19

 

You will need to take antiviral medicine within the first five days of having symptoms. The sooner you take them the sooner you’ll feel better.

You can only get antiviral medicine from a pharmacy.

To get it, you must either:

  • have a prescription from a doctor or hauora provider
  • take a health check over the phone with a participating pharmacy.

You can get a prescription over the phone from your doctor and some hauora providers once you get COVID-19. Some whānau can get an advanced prescription before they get COVID-19. Not all hauora providers can prescribe the medicine, so it’s a good idea to contact yours now to check whether they do.

If you don’t have a prescription, it’s okay. You can call a local pharmacy that supplies antiviral medicine and take a health check over the phone once you have COVID-19 symptoms. This will take between 5-30 minutes.

Use our online map to find a pharmacy near you that supplies antiviral medicine.

Find a pharmacy

You don’t need to leave home to get antiviral medicine. Remember, if you get COVID-19, you are required to stay at home for seven days.

Talk with your whānau and friends to see if they will pick up the medicine for you. If you can’t get anyone to pick the medicine up for you, your local pharmacy will deliver it to you for free.

Āe, you may be eligible if you live at the same whare as someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and you have symptoms.

Āe, you will need to return a positive RAT test before you get the medicine. You can take the test at home.

The only exception is people who have symptoms and live at the same whare as someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

Make sure you have enough RAT tests at home. Use our online map to find a RAT test near you.

Find a COVID-19 test

Like any medication, you may have some side effects when taking antiviral medicine. Common side effects include diarrhoea, being sick, changes in sense of taste, or dizziness. These are usually mild and go away when the antiviral medicine is stopped.

If side effects don’t go away, kōrero with your doctor or hauora provider or contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

You can read more on the Manatū Hauora COVID-19 Health Hub website.

Side effects of antiviral medicines

If you have a weakened immune system or three or more health conditions that put you at risk, you may talk to your doctor or hauora provider about getting an advance prescription.

Your provider will kōrero with you to see if this is appropriate for you. The medicine will only be supplied if you do end up getting COVID-19.

You can read more on the Manatū Hauora website.

Free medicines to treat COVID-19

Getting antiviral medicine is easy, but it’s best to have a plan.

  • Talk to your doctor or hauora provider now to find out if antiviral medicine is right for you.
  • Talk with your whānau and friends to see if they will pick up the medicine for you if you get COVID-19. If you can’t get anyone to pick the medicine up for you, the pharmacy will deliver it to you for free.
  • Make sure you have enough RAT tests at home
  • Use our online map to find the nearest pharmacy near you that supplies antiviral medicine.

Find antiviral medicine

To be safe, kōrero with your doctor or hauora provider about the rongoā you take, or contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

Āe, it is normal for some people to have their symptoms return after finishing antiviral medicine. For most people, these rebound symptoms are not severe. If you do feel very māuiui, kōrero with your doctor or hauora provider or contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

If you get new symptoms up to 28 days after you first got symptoms or tested positive, you should try to stay home and recover until 24 hours after your symptoms have gone.

Antiviral medicine is free throughout Aotearoa for those who are eligible.

Werohia ki te kano ārai whakakaha About boosters

Having pātai or concerns is natural. You’re making a decision that affects you, and there’s a lot to think about. Getting different views is important so you can make the best decision for you. Kōrero with your whānau and kaumātua, or your hauora provider or doctor.

Boosters are a key part of our protection against COVID-19. They give us an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to boost our immunity against the virus. This helps maintain our protection, which drops over time.

You have to get your primary COVID-19 vaccinations first. Then you will have to wait three months. If you are 16 or 17, you will have to wait six months.

To ensure you are as protected as possible against any new outbreaks of COVID-19 or variants, try to get your booster as soon as you are eligible. 

If you’ve had COVID-19, you need to wait three months after you tested positive before you can get your booster.

Any Māori aged 40 and over can get a second booster. Many of our pakeke and kaumātua don’t know this or aren’t sure about getting it, so kōrero with them about what is holding them back.

Other people who can get a second booster include any whānau aged 16 and over who:

  • Are severely immunocompromised
  • Have complex needs and live in a disability or aged care facility
  • Have a medical condition that increases their risk to COVID-19, like diabetes or heart disease
  • Work as hauora, aged care or disability kaimahi and are over 30.

Pacific whānau aged 40 and over and all New Zealanders aged 50 and over can also get a second booster.

You can read more about medical conditions on the Manatu Hauora website.

COVID-19 vaccine: Boosters

If you or your whānau members are immunocompromised, you can get up to three primary doses and two booster doses. These will help keep your immunity as high as possible and defend you from becoming seriously māuiui and needing to go to hospital if you get COVID-19.

If you’re eligible for it, you’ll need to wait six months after you get your first booster. 

Kāo, tamariki under 16 can’t get a booster.

Getting a booster is easy. They’re available across the motu from your hauora provider, doctor and pharmacies. Use our online map to find a kaupapa Māori clinic where you can get a booster near you. 

Where to get a vax or test

Your primary doses of the COVID-19 vaccine protect you against the virus, but this protection drops over time. The booster gives you ongoing defence against becoming seriously māuiui because of COVID-19. Even if you are healthy, COVID-19 could send you to hospital or you may need to take extended time off work or away from whānau.

When you have the best defences in place for you, it helps protect our wider whānau also. Some of them could get seriously māuiui from COVID-19. By getting a booster, you reduce the chances of passing COVID-19 to the people you care about or spreading it through your hapori.

Getting a booster boosts our own immunity and helps us stop the spread of COVID-19 to places where we don’t want it to go, like our kura, whānau who are at risk, or our kaumātua. It’s true. COVID-19 is in our hapori. But we still have the power to protect the ones we love.

Āe. Since COVID-19 turned up in Aotearoa, we’ve seen many new COVID-19 variants make their way into our hapori. Having a booster helps protect you against these variants.

The booster has been available since 2021. It has been tested to the same levels of safety as any other medicine in Aotearoa, so you can have the same confidence that you have with your flu jab and other vaccinations.

The chances of getting side effects are very low. Most people don’t get any side effects. If you do get some, they will probably be very mild. 

The kind of mild side effects you could get include feeling tired or achy, having chills or a fever, or swelling on the skin where you get injected. These usually only last a few days after you get your booster.

Serious side effects are extremely rare. You should immediately report any chest pain, dizziness or feeling faint to your doctor or hauora provider.

It’s understandable to only want to put natural things in your body.

However, the COVID-19 vaccine leaves our body within a few days, leaving our immune system trained and ready to protect us from COVID-19.

The booster doesn’t contain the COVID-19 virus and it does not interfere with our DNA. 

Āe. You can get COVID-19 again. It can affect you differently each time. If it was pretty gentle the first time, it could affect you severely the next time you get it. No reira, it’s important to stay prepared. Kia pakari tonu ai, whānau. 

Kāo, boosters are free throughout Aotearoa.

Kāo. All government COVID-19 vaccine mandates ended on 27 September 2022. It’s your choice to get boosted against COVID-19 and it’s up to you to make the best decision for yourself, your whānau and your community. 

Ngā tikanga hou KOWHEORI-19 New COVID-19 changes

  • You need to stay at home for seven days if you get COVID-19.
  • People who live at your whare no longer have to stay at home if you get COVID-19. But they should take a RAT test every day for five days from when you tested positive. If they test positive, they will have to isolate.
  • You don’t have to wear masks anymore, except in some health care places like the doctor, pharmacies, hospitals and aged residential care centres.
  • Māori and Pacific people aged 50+ can get free COVID-19 antiviral medicine if they test positive.
  • Other New Zealanders aged 65+ can also get free COVID-19 antivirals, as can some people with three or more high-risk conditions.
  • People coming into Aotearoa from overseas don’t have to be vaccinated anymore.
  • All government vaccine mandates will end on 27 September 2022. But some employers might require workers to be vaccinated. 

You can read more about the changes on the Unite against COVID-19 website.

Unite against COVID-19

You only have to wear a mask when visiting health care places like the doctor, pharmacies, hospitals and aged care centres.

But you can choose to wear a mask whenever you feel you need to, or to help keep our kaumātua, māuiui and immunocompromised whānau safe.

Also, if you get COVID-19, people who live at your whare can choose to wear a mask when out in public, just in case.

Āe, your marae can choose to put their own tikanga in place to keep whānau safe. 

Other social places, like churches, might choose to ask people to wear a mask. Kei a koutou te tikanga.

You need to stay at home for seven days if you get COVID-19.

Visit our What to do if you get COVID-19 page for more information.

What to do if you get COVID-19

People who live at your whare no longer have to stay at home if you get COVID-19.

But they should take a RAT test every day for five days from when you tested positive. If they test positive, they will have to isolate.

Antiviral medicine fights the virus and reduces the amount of COVID-19 in your body. It reduces the chance you will get seriously māuiui. The medicine is in tablet form and can be taken at home.

You can only get antiviral medicine from a pharmacy.

To get it, you must either:

  • have a prescription from a doctor or hauora provider
  • take a health check over the phone with a participating pharmacy.

You can get a prescription over the phone from your doctor and some hauora providers once you get COVID-19. Some whānau can get an advanced prescription before they get COVID-19. Not all hauora providers can prescribe the medicine, so it's a good idea to contact yours now to check whether they do.

Use our online map to find a pharmacy near you that supplies antiviral medicine.

Find a pharmacy

You can also read more about antivirals on the COVID-19 Health Hub website.

Free medicines to treat COVID-19

 

Āe. Use our online map tool to find a COVID-19 test or vaccination from a kaupapa Māori clinic near you.

Where to get a vax or test

Āe. If you have COVID-19 or flu symptoms, you should stay at home and get a test. This will help you know if you need to isolate, so you don’t spread the virus to others.

  • Wear a face mask when you feel unsafe.
  • Be mindful of how close you get to people you don’t live with.
  • Try to avoid large crowds.
  • Let fresh air into your whare and meet friends and whānau outside.
  • Ask manuhiri who do not live with you to take a RAT test before they visit.

Even though some restrictions have been lifted, we can still make good decisions to keep whānau and others safe from COVID-19.

  • Wear a mask when around our kaumātua, māuiui and immunocompromised whānau.
  • If it makes you feel comfortable, wear a mask on public transport and at indoor locations.
  • Stay home and get tested if you feel ill and remind others to do so if they are māuiui.
  • Follow good hygiene practices. 
  • Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations.

Visit our preparing for COVID-19 page for more information.

Preparing for COVID-19

Te whiwhi i te rongoā āraimate Getting vaccinated

If you get a vax, you might get some side effects. These are usually mild and only last for a few days.

Common side effects can include:

  • redness, pain or swelling on the arm
  • a headache
  • feeling tired or fatigued
  • muscle aches
  • feeling generally unwell
  • chills
  • fever
  • joint pain

These side effects are common and show the vaccine is working. Getting rest and drinking plenty of fluids will help. Severe reactions to the vaccine are very rare and usually occur straight away after the vaccination. 

If you have any questions or concerns after your vaccinations, contact your doctor or hauora provider.

For more information on side effects, visit the vaccine side effects and reactions page on the Ministry of Health website.

COVID-19: Pfizer vaccine side effects and reactions

 

Most people need two primary doses and a booster.

Immunocompromised can get a third primary dose. 

Whānau 50+ and immunocompromised can get two boosters.

Anyone over the age of 5 years and who is eligible can get the COVID-19 vaccine.

A booster provides more protection against COVID-19. For whānau aged 16 and over and who are not at risk, two doses of the vaccine and a booster is recommended. For those at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, a second booster six months after your first booster is recommended.

 

Pfizer is the preferred choice of vaccine for most people. If you are 18 or older, there are alternative options you can consider. Talk to your doctor or hauora provider about which option best suits you.

For more information about vaccines, visit the COVID-19 vaccines used in New Zealand page on the Unite against COVID-19 website.

COVID-19 vaccines used in New Zealand

Current evidence shows your protection against infection after two doses slowly decreases over time. A booster dose will give you greater immunity against COVID-19.  A booster will also help reduce the likelihood of becoming seriously ill, and you will be less likely to have to go to hospital if you get COVID-19.

He aha te take me whai okanga āraimate? Why vaccinate?

The vaccine teaches our immune system to recognise and fight the virus. It can’t give you COVID-19 because it doesn’t contain the virus. It doesn’t affect our DNA. The vaccine leaves your body within a few days, leaving your immune system ready to respond if you get COVID-19.

Getting vaccinated means you are far less likely to get seriously ill and have to go to hospital if you catch COVID-19.

It is harder for the virus to spread between people who are vaccinated, but it does happen. This is why it is important to keep up good hygiene practices and get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

In Aotearoa, vaccines are assessed by the Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority, known as Medsafe.

Medsafe will only approve a vaccine if it is confident it meets national and international standards for quality and safety.

 

There is only a tiny percentage of the population who shouldn't have a COVID-19 vaccine. These are people who will have a severe allergic reaction to it. 

You should talk this through with your doctor or trusted hauora kaimahi.

You are generally encouraged to get vaccinated if you have a condition like cancer, diabetes, kidney disease or heart disease. This is because if you catch COVID-19, you are more likely to get seriously ill and end up in hospital.

Experts believe it is as safe for hapū māmā as it is for everyone else. This is because the vaccine does not contain the live virus so it can’t give you or your pēpi COVID-19. If you’re hapū, you can get the COVID-19 vaccine at any stage of your pregnancy. Boosters are also recommended.

If you're breastfeeding, you can receive COVID-19 vaccines. There are no safety concerns for you or your pēpi. Vaccinating during pregnancy may also help protect your pēpi, as there’s evidence that infants can get antibodies to the virus through cord blood and breast milk.

Most people who get COVID-19 recover completely after two to six weeks and make a full recovery within 12 weeks.

However, some experience a range of symptoms beyond the standard time of recovery.

Symptoms can include:

  • fatigue
  • breathlessness
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • chest tightness
  • chest pain
  • difficulty concentrating
  • cognitive impairment or 'brain fog'
  • difficulty sleeping
  • pins and needles
  • dizziness
  • joint pain
  • muscle pain.

 

If you are hapū, trying to get hapū or breastfeeding, you are encouraged to stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations.

Rongoā āraimate mō ngā tamariki Vaccinations for tamariki

Parents and caregivers can get their tamariki aged 5+ immunised from COVID-19.

Tamariki will need two doses to be fully protected. The doses should be at least eight weeks apart. The time between doses could be reduced to 21 days if needed, for example, if your child is starting significant immunosuppression treatment.

The Pfizer vaccine has gone through clinical trials with thousands of tamariki aged 5-11 years. The reported side effects were mild and short-term, like those experienced from other routine vaccines. 

The vaccine is safe for children with food allergies. There is no food, gelatine or latex in the Pfizer vaccine.

There are a few practical things you can do to help your tamariki when they get a vax:

  • make sure they have had something to eat or drink beforehand
  • dress them in something with easy access to their upper arm
  • bring a fun distraction, like a toy
  • have a kōrero with them about what is going to happen.

Just like with any other immunisation, tamariki can get redness, pain or swelling on their arm. Other reactions that can occur include:

  • headache
  • fever
  • feeling sick, vomiting or diarrhoea
  • fatigue
  • general discomfort, feeling unwell, or aches and pains.

These side effects are common, usually mild and show the vaccine is working. They will last one or two days. Getting rest and drinking plenty of fluids will help.

You can get a vaccine at your hauora provider, doctor or local pharmacy.

You can use our online map tool to find a kaupapa Māori clinic near you.

Find a clinic

You can book a whānau or group by phoning Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

Tamariki can get a vaccine three months after they test positive for COVID-19. This gap gives their immune system time to recover, and ensures their immune response is as strong as possible. 

Kāo. The vaccine is only currently approved for tamariki aged 5 and over.

Kāo. Currently, only rangatahi aged 16 and over can get a booster. Tamariki aged 5 - 15 cannot get a booster. They don't need them because their immune response is strong from their two doses.