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 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 will 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 shot 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 shot is recommended. For those at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, a second booster shot six months after your first booster shot 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.

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 clothing that allows access to their upper arm
  • bring a fun distraction, such as a toy.

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 are common and show the vaccine is working. 

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 28 29 26.

Ētahi atu ara whakahaumaru i te āhua ki te KOWHEORI-19 Other ways to stay safe against COVID-19

Yes. Even if you get vaccinated, it is still important to keep up good practices including wearing a face mask in public indoor places, like shops or hauora clinics.

The traffic light system is designed to keep our communities safe and contain the spread of COVID-19. It’s important to know the setting in your region or any region you’re travelling to and what you need to do to keep you and your whānau safe.

To find out what the traffic light setting is in a region and what you need to do at red, orange or green, visit the Traffic lights page on the Unite against COVID-19 website.

Traffic lights

Businesses are no longer required to see your My Vaccine Pass. However, businesses that use My Vaccine Pass can choose to keep that system if they want.

My Vaccine Pass is an official record of your COVID-19 vaccination status. The pass is compulsory for some jobs. If you intend to travel overseas, you may need to apply for a vaccination certificate as proof of your COVID-19 vaccination status.

Many iwi have put together COVID-19 response plans for their hapū and marae.

You can find resources by visiting our Karawhiua resources page.


View resources