Vaccinations under COVID-19 Traffic Light System
Vaccinations are now available to everyone in New Zealand aged 5 and over, and the vaccination programme continues at all Alert Levels. You can book your appointment online at bookmyvaccine.nz or 0800 28 29 26.
Why has the government approved vaccines for children aged 5-15?
Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect ourselves and our whānau. The more of us who are vaccinated in our community, the greater our immunity. We want to protect young people and their families from COVID-19.
Is it safe for a young person aged between 5-15 years to get the COVID-19 Vaccine?
Medsafe have approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for those aged 5-15 years old. It has already been used in this age group overseas. Medsafe only grants consent for a vaccine in New Zealand once they’re satisfied it has passed required levels of safety and effectiveness.
Do young people have the same side effects as adults?
Young people get similar rates of side effects such as fatigue, headache, fever, and tiredness as adults.
I’ve already booked my vaccine appointment; how do I get my 5 – 15 year-old added to my booking?
Call 0800 28 29 26 (8am-8pm, 7 days a week) to see if your vaccination site has space to add your 5-15 year old to the booking. If not, you can cancel your booking and create a new one later that can fit you all in.
Do they need to provide ID?
Identification is not required, but staff will check your personal details when you arrive for your appointment.
I have an 4-year-old child who turns 5 in the next few months, can they get it early?
No. Medsafe and Cabinet have only approved for those aged 5 years and above to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and anyone under 5 years will need to wait until they are eligible.
Who can give informed consent?
Those aged between 5 and 15 years who go to their usual healthcare provider or a COVID-19 vaccination centre for a COVID-19 vaccine can provide informed consent, if deemed competent to consent, and be given the vaccine.
A parent or caregiver is also able to give informed consent on behalf of the young person.
Is it legal for minors to provide their own consent to be vaccinated?
As with other vaccination programmes and under New Zealand law, children under the age of 16 years may give or withhold consent to healthcare treatment, so long as they are competent to do so.
It is the role of the healthcare professional to decide whether a child is competent.
A child can be considered competent to consent “when a child achieves sufficient understanding and maturity to fully comprehend the proposed treatment”.
Does a parent of legal guardian need to be present or provide consent for the younger person aged 5-15 years?
Under the code of consumer rights, every consumer, including a child, has the right to the information they need to make an informed choice or to give informed consent. Therefore, a younger person can provide their own informed consent and a parent or guardian does not need to provide consent or be present.
What if my parent or guardian doesn’t want me to get the vaccine?
Where possible we recommend discussing the vaccination with your whānau or a trusted support person or adult. However, as a 5-15-year-old your parent or guardian’s permission is not required if your healthcare provider is confident you are deemed competent to give consent.
Do I need a third dose of the vaccine?
The COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group has recommended that individuals aged 12 and older with severe immunocompromise receive a third primary dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. There are specific criteria for who can qualify for a third primary dose, this includes individuals who were undergoing immunosupressive therapies prior to or at the time of their first or second dose. The Ministry of Health has published eligibility criteria on its website.
Why is a third dose recommended?
Individuals who are severely immunocompromised are at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 and might not produce a sufficiently strong immune response after two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. A third primary dose may be beneficial. The third primary dose is optional but recommended.
Is this a booster dose?
A primary third dose is different to a booster dose for the general population. Under the current immunisation programme, you cannot receive a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine in New Zealand unless you qualify under the criteria for a third primary dose. The Ministry is reviewing the research as it becomes available and expects to make a decision about booster doses for the general public in the coming months.
Doesn’t Medsafe need to approve the use for a third dose?
Administration of a third primary dose is allowed under s23 of the Medicines Act for a specific purpose. The third primary dose is considered ‘off label’. Studies have been reviewed by the COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group, and they have made this recommendation for individuals who are severely immunocompromised. A ‘booster dose’ for the general population cannot be prescribed or administered under the current vaccination programme.
Will it cost me anything?
There will be free access to those who are eligible for a third primary dose.
How will people know if they qualify?
The eligibility requirements will be published on the Ministry of Health website. They are complex and may need to be interpreted by your GP or other specialist to see if they apply to you.
How will the Ministry/DHBs ensure that the third dose is delivered equitably?
The Ministry will be providing guidance on how GPs and Specialists might be able to proactively identify patients who meet the criteria for a third primary dose.
What are the expected side effects to a third dose of Pfizer?
So far, reactions reported after the third dose in small studies were similar to those after two doses, with fatigue and pain at injection site being the most commonly reported side effects, and overall, most side effects reported were mild to moderate. (from CV-TAG memo)
What about front line workers/border workers? When can they receive a third dose?]
We know there are people at an increased risk, like frontline border and health care workers, who were vaccinated in early 2021 and who are later wondering if they need a booster shot.
The Ministry is reviewing the research as it becomes available and we expect to make a decision about booster doses for the general public in the coming months.
What if my regular GP doesn’t offer the vaccine?
You can still schedule an in-person or virtual appointment (if offered) with your usual GP for the script, and visit another site for your vaccination such as your local vaccinating pharmacy.
What is the vaccination advice for those who have already had COVID-19 and have antibodies?
Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible - although rare - that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again.
How can we be confident that the vaccine is safe in the long-term given the short development and testing period?
In New Zealand, applications for all new medicines, including vaccines, are assessed by New Zealand's Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority (Medsafe). Medsafe is responsible for regulating all medicines and medical devices in New Zealand. They are part of the Ministry of Health. Medsafe will only approve a vaccine for use in New Zealand once they are confident it meets all the safety checks we have in New Zealand and complies with international standards for safety effectiveness and quality of the vaccine.
What does the COVID-19 vaccine mean for my flu vaccination?
The priority is for all frontline health staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the influenza vaccination. Once you have had both doses of COVID-19, you should wait two weeks before you can have your flu vaccination. If you are not a frontline health worker you can choose to have your flu vaccination first, you must then wait two weeks until you can have your first COVID-19 vaccination.
What is the latest advice about myocarditis?
It has been concluded by Medsafe, other regulators and Pfizer that myocarditis is a rare side effect of vaccination with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
Globally, the rate appears to be highest in younger men (18-24 years old) and after the second dose.Most people with myocarditis reported after vaccination recover completely, without treatment, and have no lasting symptoms or complications.
Since the majority of cases are mild and require no specific treatment, the benefits of vaccination continue to out-weigh the risk of experiencing this or the other known side effects.
In New Zealand, there have been only 20 events of myocarditis reported to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM) (as at 10 August).
What are the symptoms of myocarditis?
The symptoms of myocarditis following vaccination usually occur within 7 days following dose 2, and include chest pain, shortness of breath and racing pulse. Consumers with these symptoms should be advised to seek medical attention immediately. The risk of myocarditis after being vaccinated is rare
What vaccine is being used in New Zealand?
There are four suppliers of vaccine in New Zealand
- Janssen Pharmaceutica
Where will my nearest vaccine location be?
Locations include Māori and Pacific providers, doctors, pop-up centres, pharmacies, medical and hauora centres and community clinics.
You can make a vaccination appointment now through bookmyvaccine.nz or by calling 0800 28 29 26.
Why has the standard interval between doses been reduced back to 3 weeks?
In response to the ongoing Delta outbreak the Ministry of Health is advising New Zealanders to consider a shorter gap between doses of the Pfizer vaccine than the current standard of six weeks. We need two things to protect ourselves, our whānau and our communities in this outbreak: first we need as many people as possible to have their first dose to be partially protected; and secondly we need all those people to be fully vaccinated with two doses as soon as possible. Reducing the gap between doses to three weeks or over means more people can be fully vaccinated sooner, increasing our community immunity. The two doses of the Pfizer vaccine must be given at least three weeks apart.
Why was the gap extended in August to 6 weeks if it is now back to 3 weeks?
In August we extended the standard gap between first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine from three weeks to six weeks to allow us to give one dose (partial protection) to a larger number of people faster. At the time we said that a shorter time between the two doses was recommended in some cases. This included people at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 such as border workers. Since that time the Delta outbreak has increased the risk of contracting COVID-19 for everyone in New Zealand, no matter where in the country you are. Because of this increased risk the Ministry is now advising all New Zealanders to consider a shorter gap of three weeks or over between their two doses, instead of the standard six weeks. Throughout the response we have aimed to ensure our approach was flexible and responsive to the situation.
What if I have booked my second dose with a 6 week gap?
If you already have vaccinations booked around six weeks apart, you can keep your second appointment as it is, or choose to change it. Either way the important thing is that you get two doses of the vaccine to be fully vaccinated.
The Ministry of Health has provided resources about COVID-19 in a variety of accessible formats.
Are your clinics accessible to those using wheelchairs or mobility aids?
Our mass-vaccination clinic spaces in Dunedin and Invercargill are accessible for wheelchairs and mobility aids. There are also many other locations across the Southern district where you can receive your vaccine, including GPs and pharmacies. Please contact these individual providers to discuss their accessibility.
Can I bring a support person or assistance animal to my vaccination appointment?
Yes, you are welcome to bring a support person or certified assistance dog.
Is there any written information I need to read or sign at my appointment?
No, there is not. All information will be communicated verbally. Vaccine consent is also verbal. If for any reason this is not the case, you will be provided with support.
I am unable to leave the house due to health reasons. How can I get my vaccine?
If you are unable to leave your home due to health reasons and cannot access a clinic, please contact your usual home healthcare provider in the first instance. If they are offering the vaccine they may be able to offer you a home visit.
How can people book if they do not have access to the internet?
You can book now by visiting bookmyvaccine.nz or by calling 0800 28 29 26 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week).
How can I change my appointment?
If you booked your appointment through the online booking system, you can log back in to amend your booking. Alternatively, please call 0800 28 29 26 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week). Please note if your change means there is less than 21 days between doses, you will be prompted to change the other appointment to maintain the gap between doses.
My COVID Record
My Covid Record is now accessible to the public via www.mycovidrecord.nz. There are two different types of vaccination certificates: one for use in New Zealand and one for travel overseas. Work is underway to determine when proof of vaccination might be required for entry to events and venues in New Zealand.
What if I am fully vaccinated, but there’s an error with scanning the code?
Health boards are working to ensure people can easily access support options if they find their certificate isn’t working. The design used is available offline.
Can people access other vaccination information on My COVID Record such as Flu or Measles?
No, it is currently only for COVID-19 proof of vaccination and test results.
How will the QR Codes be checked?
The NZ Pass Verifier app has been developed by the Ministry of Health, designed for use with smartphones and tablets.
Our event doesn’t have internet access, is that ok?
The NZ Pass Verifier app is designed to be operated without constant internet access.
Will records be required at all restaurants and events?
We’re still working through the settings where proof of vaccination will be compulsory.
Will it cost me any money to use the app?
The app is free.
Who can access the app? Will it be restricted access?
The app will be accessible by anyone with a smartphone with access to the Apple or Google Play stores.
Why haven’t you asked for ID for people getting vaccinated and how do we know it was the right person?
A conscious decision was made earlier on in the vaccination programme rollout to support as many people to be vaccinated as possible which meant trusting New Zealanders to do the right thing. While it is possible to get vaccinated in someone else’s name we are asking New Zealanders to act in a trustworthy way. it is worth noting that this is an offence under the COVID Act, and there are health risks to receiving treatment not needed for you.
How do we know the certificates will be accepted overseas?
The international certificates are separate to the domestic certificates. These will meet EU standards for proof of vaccination to enable international travel. The government is currently talking with EU officials to make sure it is accepted there and officials have begun the same conversation with other international jurisdictions.
At this point, it is the closest thing that exists to a universal way to prove your vaccination status for international travel.