Answers to your COVID-19 vaccine questions

We’re here to provide you  with as much information as possible  about how you can best  protect your whānau, hapū and iwi from COVID-19. 

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

Why vaccinate

Most whānau are getting vaccinated because it's the most powerful way to protect against COVID-19. If most of us are vaccinated it makes it harder for the virus to spread through our communities. Community outbreaks have led to lockdowns and put our health system under pressure.

High vaccination rates for those 12 years and over 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.

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.

Getting two doses of the Pfizer vaccine means you are much less likely to catch COVID-19.
As with any vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine may not fully protect everyone who gets it. But if you do catch COVID-19, the vaccine will give you a high degree of protection from serious illness. This means you could have no COVID-19 symptoms, or will have much fewer, milder symptoms, and recover faster. Find more information here.

We know it is a lot harder for the virus to spread between people who are vaccinated. To be safe, we must assume there is still a risk of transmission. This is why it is important to keep up good hygiene practices and get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

Safety of the vaccine

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 s

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.

There is only a tiny percentage of the population who shouldn't have the Pfizer vaccine and these are people who will have severe allergic reactions to it.  You are strongly 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. You may want to talk this through with your doctor. Find answers to more questions around the vaccine and other medical conditions here.

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.

Getting COVID-19

We're learning more about the long-term health impacts of COVID-19, often called 'long COVID'. Most people who have had it return to normal health. But others have experienced a range of symptoms lasting weeks or months. Some are mild and some are disabling.  Find out more here. 

 If you catch COVID-19 when you’re pregnant, you are more likely to become very unwell.

If you’re not vaccinated, you are more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit – particularly with the Delta variant.

There are also increased risks for babies. Babies are five times more likely to be born prematurely and require neonatal intensive care.  Find out more here. 

No, people across all age groups are getting sick and have been hospitalised. Daily updates on case numbers and hospitalisations can be found here. 

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. 

Getting vaccinated

  • 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.
  • Your second vaccination should happen three weeks after your first dose or as soon as possible after that. You can book an appointment  or there are lots of places where you can get vaccinated without one.
  •   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.

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

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

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

In Aotearoa, most people can choose if they want to have the COVID-19 vaccine. But there will be some places or events that only people who are vaccinated can go.

In some jobs, including those at the border and in the health and educations sectors, employees will have to be vaccinated. Other employers may also require workers to be vaccinated over time.

Any other pātai?

If you have a question that isn't answered here, please enter it below or phone 0800 28 29 26 to have a kōrero with someone about the vaccine. You can ask for a Māori advisor.  

Ngā mihi - we will update our FAQ section regularly.
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