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 safe, from our kaumātua to our mokopuna. It protects us by stopping the spread of the virus.
If most of us are vaccinated, we can also reduce the risk of outbreaks. Community outbreaks can lead to lockdowns and put our health system under pressure.
When we get vaccinated, we can better protect those in our community who can’t get immunised such as tamariki and rangatahi who are under 16.
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 it meets national and international standards for safety, effectiveness and quality.
Medsafe is satisfied that the Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective to give to us.
The clinical trials performed on the Pfizer vaccine show it is approximately 95% effective against COVID-19, around seven days after receiving the second dose.
We don’t yet know how long we’ll be protected or how much it will stop us from passing on the virus.
Current research shows that once you’ve vaccinated, you’ll have immunity against COVID-19 for at least eight months and it may be longer.
In Aotearoa, people can choose if they want to have the COVID-19 vaccine. You will not receive a fine if you don’t get it.
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. It will also help protect our tamariki and those who cannot yet be vaccinated against the virus.
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
- joint pain
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.
- Under 16 years old. At this stage, the vaccine is not available for under 16-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 a hapū Māmā doesn’t have medical risks or high exposure to COVID-19, she and her doctor may decide to wait until after pēpi is born before she has the vaccine. If so, it is important that those around her are vaccinated to help keep her safe.
Breastfeeding Māmā can receive COVID-19 vaccines. There are no expected safety concerns for breastfeeding wāhine or their pēpi.
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 20 minutes after being vaccinated.
- Some mild side effects are common and are a sign your body is learning to fight the virus. Visit UniteAgainstCOVID-19.govt.nz
- A second appointment will be booked for you. Be sure to make a note so you know when and where your second appointment is happening.
- Both does of the vaccine are FREE.
- Being fully vaccinated (two doses) will help protect you and your whānau from COVID-19.
We want everyone to be able to access the vaccine quickly and easily.
Depending on where you live, there are a range of places where people can go to get vaccinated. These include your doctor, a local community clinic, a pop-up centre or at some marae.
Stay tuned to Karawhiua.nz for our mapping / location page from July, to help you see the options for available vaccine centres, and to find a vaccine centre that is right for you and your whānau.
The vaccine is FREE wherever you choose to have it.
At this stage, tamariki and rangatahi under 16 cannot get the Pfizer vaccine. The first trials of the vaccine focused on more vulnerable groups rather than younger people. Further trials are currently underway and when more data becomes available, that guidance will be updated.
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