Answers to your COVID-19 vaccine questions

We’re here to provide whānau, hapū and iwi with as much information as possible so you can be sure you’re making the right decision.

Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Getting vaccinated is a way to protect your whānau and whakapapa. It’s a way to keep everyone protected, from our kaumātua to our mokopuna. It protects us by teaching our bodies how to fight the virus.

If most of us are vaccinated, we can also help reduce the risk of outbreaks. Community outbreaks have led to lockdowns and put our health system under pressure. High rates of vaccinations will give our whānau more freedom and enable the health system to focus on the other things we need it to do.

When we get vaccinated, we can better protect those in our community who can’t get immunised such as tamariki who are under 12.

The vaccine works like other vaccines. It teaches the immune system to recognise and fight the virus.

It can’t give you the disease because it does not contain the virus, or a dead or inactivated virus, or anything that can affect our DNA.

The vaccine is gone completely from your body within a few days, leaving your immune system ready for action if COVID-19 comes near you.

It took a global effort to create the COVID-19 vaccines. But we didn’t start from scratch. Similar research into another virus (known as SARS) was already underway.

Other things helped.

  • Large amounts of funding were invested in research and manufacturing.
  • New technology was available.
  • Researchers, scientists and manufacturers around the world worked together.

As a result, the vaccines could be made faster, while still making sure they went through all the safety checks.

In Aotearoa, vaccines are assessed by New Zealand's Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority (Medsafe). Medsafe is part of the Ministry of Health.

Medsafe will only approve a vaccine for use in Aotearoa once it is confident that it meets national and international standards for important features like vaccine quality and safety.

Studies show that about 95% of people who have received both doses of the vaccine, are protected against getting COVID-19 symptoms.

Current research shows that once you are fully vaccinated you are far less likely to fall seriously ill and less likely to transmit the virus to others.

In Aotearoa, most people can choose if they want to have the COVID-19 vaccine. You will not receive a fine if you don’t get it. 

Some particular jobs, including those working at the border, require vaccination to keep employees safe. Most employers cannot require their staff to be vaccinated.  

Getting two doses of the vaccine will give you and your whānau the best protection. The vaccine is especially important to safeguard our kuia and kaumātua, hapū Māmā and others who are more likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19.

All vaccines can have some side effects. These side effects are usually mild and only last for a few days.

Common side effects can include:

  • pain at the injection site
  • a headache
  • feeling tired or fatigued
  • muscle aches
  • feeling generally unwell
  • chills
  • fever
  • joint pain
  • nausea.

 These are signs that the vaccine is working.

Globally, millions of people have already received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, with an extremely small number of serious reactions.

If you have any questions or worries after your vaccinations, contact your doctor or health provider.

For more info on side effects visit UniteAgainstCOVID-19.govt.nz

Check with your doctor first if you are:

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding. Talk to your midwife or doctor.
  • Taking any medications. Talk to your health provider first.
  • Have a bleeding disorder. Talk to your health provider first.
  • Had an allergic reaction to any vaccine or injection in the past. Let your vaccinator know before you get the vaccine.
  •  At this stage, the vaccine is not available for under 12-year-olds.

Based on how the vaccine works, experts believe it is as safe for hapū Māmā as it is for everyone else. This is because the Pfizer vaccine does not contain the live virus so it can’t give you or pēpi COVID-19.

If you’re hapū, you can get the COVID-19 vaccine at any stage of your pregnancy.

Breastfeeding Māmā can receive COVID-19 vaccines. There are no safety concerns for breastfeeding wāhine or their 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.

If you are planning to be hapū, you can still receive COVID-19 vaccines.

If you have any questions about COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy or breastfeeding, speak to your midwife or doctor.

  • You will be asked to provide your details and to give consent.
  • A fully trained vaccinator will give you the vaccine in your upper arm.
  • You will need to stay for 15 minutes after being vaccinated.
  • Some mild side effects are common and are a sign your body is learning to fight the virus.  Visit the Unite Against COVID-19 website for further information.
  • A second appointment will be booked for you in 3-6 weeks  time. Make a note so you know when and where your second appointment is happening. You don't have to have a booking though. There are lots of places where you can get vaccinated without an appointment.  Find a vaccination centre near you here.
  • Both does of the vaccine are FREE.
  • Being fully vaccinated (two doses) will help protect you and your whānau from COVID-19.

Anyone over 12 years-old can get a vaccination now. 

At this stage, tamariki under 12 cannot get the Pfizer vaccine. Initial trials of the vaccine focused on vulnerable groups. Further trials are currently underway and when more data becomes available, that guidance will be updated.

The virus that causes COVID-19 has mutated (changed) over time, creating new variants. Delta is now the most common variant across the world. Delta spreads and infects people more easily and may cause people to get more serious illnesses. 

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