COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions 

Why should I get immunised?

Immunisations save lives. 

Immunisation is one of the best ways you can protect yourself, your tamariki, your whānau and future generations from infectious diseases. If you vaccinate, you help wipe out diseases that could spread now and into the future. 

By getting immunised, you’re not only looking after yourself and your own whānau, but you are also protecting others in your hapū and iwi. The more people who are vaccinated, the fewer people will be infected and the less widely a disease can spread.

How do vaccines work?

Vaccines can teach your body how to fight off the real disease if you come into contact with it. Immunisations gets your body’s natural defence system ready to fight off germs/diseases before you get sick. 

Why should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID-19 is a very real threat across the world, including Aotearoa. 

If COVID-19 was to get into Māori communities, our whānau, hapū and iwi could be heavily impacted. 

The COVID-19 vaccine is an important and key part of stopping its spread in Aotearoa and into our own whānau, hapū and iwi. 

When you get the vaccine, you are protecting yourself, your whānau, your kaumātua and anyone who isn’t able to get the vaccine, particularly people with low immune systems, including due to other sicknesses they might have (immuno-deficient). 

When as many people as possible get vaccinated, this is called “herd immunity”. 

A key part of the COVID-19 vaccine is that if we have herd immunity in Aotearoa, together we are better able to stop the spread of COVID-19 and the development of other strains. 

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Yes, whānau can be assured that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe. Our health system in Aotearoa has a very strict criteria for medicines that can be provided in our country. 

Every medicine that is available to us must go through a strict process to ensure it is safe and efficient, before it can be approved for use.  

How can you be sure that the COVID-19 vaccine has been tested thoroughly?

Scientists have been creating and testing variations of the COVID-19 vaccine for a long time. 

The technology and science that has been used to develop the COVID-19 vaccines has been used used for many years to develop other vaccines that are regularly used in Aotearoa. 

Due to the efforts of our entire country, Aotearoa is in a unique and safe position, free from COVID-19. This has allowed us to watch and take note of the effects of the COVID-19 vaccine in other countries. 

The positive results that we are seeing internationally, as well as the strict process and approval criteria provided by Medsafe assures us that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe. 

Who approves the COVID-19 vaccine?

Medsafe is the New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority and is part of the Ministry of Health. 

Their job is to review and investigate the science behind medicine and confirm whether it is safe to be used in Aotearoa.  

What does Medsafe check for?

When making a decision to recommend the use of a medicine, Medsafe checks for:

  • Efficacy – that the medicine is effective 
  • Safety – that the medicine is safe to use and does not have dangerous or life-threatening side effects
  • Manufacturing data – that the medicine is made using high-quality products and processes and that enough can be manufactured to meet the needs of all those living in Aotearoa. 

To meet these criteria, a significant amount of evidence and proof must be given to Medsafe.

Was the COVID-19 vaccine rushed through the approval process?

No. The COVID-19 vaccine was not rushed through the approval process. 

The review and investigation of the COVID-19 vaccine was “fast tracked” as a matter of priority. 

This means that a significant amount of time, attention and resources were dedicated to checking the COVID-19 vaccine to check that it could meet the strict Medsafe criteria. 

Medsafe recognises the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

What are the side-effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

The side effects of COVID-19 are: 

-        Sore, red or raised arm where the injection has been given 

-        Headache

-        Feeling a bit tired for a day or two. 

These reactions are normal and are usual side effects from having a vaccination. They are mild and should decrease within a few days. 

What are the long-term effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Since December 2020, more than 200 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine across the world. 

The COVID-19 vaccines that our Government has purchased have shown excellent safety results. 

This gives us confidence that the vaccines we are using are safe. 

The technology and science that has been used to develop the COVID-19 vaccines has been used for many years to develop other vaccines that are regularly used in Aotearoa. 

It is similar to other immunisations and vaccines that we use. 

It can teach your body how to fight off the real disease if you come into contact with it. Immunisations gets your body’s natural defence system ready to fight off germs/diseases before you get sick.   

The COVID-19 vaccines that our Government has purchased cannot combine with our DNA to change our genetic code so you can be assured that there will be no long-term DNA-altering affects from the vaccine. 

Who shouldn’t get the COVID-19 vaccine?

At this stage, it has been identified that there are some people who shouldn’t get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

They are:

  • People or whānau who are currently isolating or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. 
  • People or whānau who have severe allergic reactions to any component of the vaccine. 
  • Tamariki under the age of 16 years old. 
  • People or whānau who have received the influenza vaccine within the previous two weeks.
  • People or whānau who have received any other vaccine within the previous four weeks. 

There are some people who should seek advice from their health provider before getting the COVID-19 vaccine. 

They are:

  • People who have had a previous sever or immediate allergic reaction to any other vaccine.
  • Hapū or breastfeeding mama
  • Anyone on medicine that is used to prevent blood clots (also known as blood thinners)
  • Anyone on immune checkpoint inhibitors (medicine given to treat some cancers).