HOW WERE THE COVID-19 VACCINES CREATED SO QUICKLY BUT ALSO SAFELY?

Creating the COVID-19 vaccines took a global effort. The world united to take on the challenge. We didn’t have to start from scratch as scientists had a head start because of all the research already carried out on related viruses.

Researchers and governments from different countries shared information and worked together. Large manufacturing plants were built so more vaccines can be made faster than was possible before.

Governments, private companies and funding agencies have spent a lot of money. This means more could be done in a short space of time.

As a result, the vaccines could be made faster, whilst still ensuring they went through all the safety checks.

IS IT SAFE IF YOU HAVE A HEALTH CONDITION?

The Pfizer vaccine has been thoroughly assessed for safety for people with underlying health conditions.

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 cannot get the Pfizer vaccine if you have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to an ingredient in the vaccine.

If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your doctor before getting vaccinated.

 

CAN I GET THE VACCINE IF I AM SICK?

If you are unwell on the day of your appointment, you will need to reschedule it. You can be vaccinated once you are well again.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, get a test and stay at home until you get your results. You can be vaccinated once you have anegative test.

HOW DOES THE COVID-19 VACCINE WORK?

The Pfizer vaccine teaches your own immune system to recognise and fight off the virus. The vaccine can’t give you the disease. It does not contain the virus itself, or anything that can affect your DNA.

The vaccine is gone completely from your body within a few days, leaving your immune system stronger, and ready for action if COVID-19 comes near you.

CAN I STILL GET COVID-19 IF I HAVE THE VACCINE?

Getting 2 doses of the Pfizer vaccine means you are much less likely to catch COVID-19, including the Delta variant.

As with any vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine may not fully protect everyone who gets it. However, 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.

HOW WILL I KNOW IF I NEED TO ADJUST MY BOOKING?

The reduced capacity means we may need to postpone some appointments. If we need to postpone your appointment you will be contacted by the Ministry of Health, your DHB or healthcare provider.

If you have a booking and don’t receive a call, please attend your vaccination booking as scheduled, making sure you are following health measures and wear a face covering.

Visit bookmyvaccine.nz to make your booking.

WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH THE VACCINE ROLL OUT?

The vaccine rollout was initially paused to reduce movement and allow DHBs to adjust their procedures for Alert Level 4 conditions.

A small number of sites will continue this afternoon with all sites operating again from 8.00am Thursday 19 August. There will need to be adjustments to some bookings to allow for social distancing at the vaccination sites.

HOW HAS THE COVID-19 VACCINE MADE OUR BOARDERS STRONGER?

Our border is our first line of defence against COVID-19. We’ve already rolled out the vaccine to border and MIQ workers, and the people they live with. By shielding those most at risk of catching COVID-19 in their workplace, we reduce the risk of future outbreaks, and lockdowns. By making our border stronger, we’ve made Aotearoa stronger too.

CAN YOU PASS COVID-19 ONTO OTHER PEOPLE IF YOU ARE VACCINATED?

We know it is a lot harder for the virus to spread between people who are vaccinated. To be safe, however, we must assume there is still a risk of transmission.

This is why it is important to continue taking extra safety measures, such as wearing a mask and washing your hands regularly, afteryou have been vaccinated.

DOES THE VACCINE WORK AGAINS DELTA?

Data from England shows that 2 doses of the Pfizer vaccine is highly effective against the Delta variant.

Evidence shows that those who had been fully vaccinated with 2 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and became infected with the Deltavariant were still well-protected against severe disease.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GET THE VACCINE?

You’ll be asked to confirm who you are by answering some simple questions. Getting the vaccine is your choice, so you’ll be asked to give your consent. Remember, you can ask questions at any time.

A fully-trained vaccinator will give you the vaccine in your upper arm. You’ll need to stay for at least 20 minutes so we can make sure you’re okay. You might experience some mild side-effects 1-2 days after getting your vaccination. This is common, and a sign that your body is learning to fight the virus.

We’ll record your visit in the COVID Immunisation Register. Getting two doses of the vaccine, at least 21 days apart, is important to give you the best protection. Be sure to check your second vaccination is booked, and keep a note of where and when your second appointment takes place.

WHY DO I NEED 2 DOSES, AND WHEN SHOULD I GET MY SECOND DOSE?

For the best protection, it is important to get 2 doses of the vaccine. Both doses of the Pfizer vaccine are the same, but the second dose increases your protection. This means you get better and likely longer-lasting immunity from 2 doses than from a single dose.

The standard gap between doses is now 3 weeks or more

In August, we extended the standard gap between first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine from 3 to 6 weeks. This allowed us to give 1 dose (partial protection) to a larger number of people faster.
Since then, the Delta outbreak has increased the risk of contracting COVID-19 for everyone in New Zealand, no matter where you are in the country.

Because of this increased risk, we are now advising all New Zealanders to consider a shorter gap of 3 weeks between their 2 doses, instead of the standard 6 weeks. Reducing this gap means more people can be fully vaccinated sooner, increasing our community immunity.
The minimum gap between doses will continue to be 21 days.

IS THE VACCINE SAFE FOR CHILDREN?

Young people aged 12 to 15 (in Aotearoa) became eligible for the Pfizer vaccine in August 2021.

The vaccine was approved for this age group by Medsafe who is responsible for approving the use of all medicines and vaccines in New Zealand.

The Ministry of Health also received advice from science experts in the COVID-19 Vaccine Technical Advisory Group.
Medsafe only gives consent for using a vaccine in Aotearoa once they are satisfied it has met strict standards for safety, efficacy and quality.

A large number of people ages 12 to 15 have now been vaccinated around the world, and no additional safety concerns have beenraised.

IS IT SAFE TO TAKE THE COVID-19 VACCINE WHEN PREGNANT OR BREASTFEEDING?

Pregnant women who get COVID-19 are more likely to get seriously ill, so it is a good idea to get vaccinated.

Millions of pregnant people have been vaccinated around the world. Data shows no evidence that the vaccine is associated with anincreased risk of miscarriage during pregnancy, and no additional safety concerns have been raised.

The Pfizer vaccine does not contain a live virus or any ingredients that are harmful to pregnant people or their babies.

As with all vaccinations, be sure to talk to your midwife, GP or healthcare professional before you get the vaccine, to make sure you have the right information for you and your baby. It is also safe for you and your baby to breastfeed after you’ve been vaccinated.

CAN THE VACCINE AFFECT FERTILITY?

No, the Pfizer vaccine will not affect your genes or fertility.

The mRNA from the vaccine does not enter the nucleus of any cells, which is where your DNA is.

WHAT DOES PROVISIONAL APPROVAL OF THE VACCINE MEAN?

The Pfizer vaccine has been provisionally approved by New Zealand’s medicines safety authority, Medsafe.

This means it has met international standards for quality, safety and efficacy, and Pfizer must provide ongoing data to Medsafe. The main parts of the clinical trials are complete, and Pfizer is continuing to monitor the long-term use of the vaccine until 2023.

It is not unusual for medicines to have provisional approval before the end of clinical trials. A common example is anti-cancer medicines.

Medsafe will continue to check that the safety of the vaccine is the same as seen in the clinical trials. This is the same process for all medicines being used in New Zealand.