COVID-19 vaccine updates for tāngata whaikaha and whānau

Making a decision about having the COVID-19 vaccine

Last updated 16 September 2021

Here is a simplified easy read information and pictures on making a decision about having the COVID-19 vaccine. It also includes a decision-making tool that you can fill in yourself.  

For more easy read information about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit the Ministry of Health website





Making a decision about having the COVID-19 vaccine

Need more support to make a decision about receiving the COVID-19 Vaccination?

Published 8 September 2021

Some people may require support to make a decision about receiving the Covid-19 Vaccination.

The Personal Advocacy and Safeguarding Adults Trust can work with disabled people nationwide who may require help with their decision about the Covid-19 vaccination. This includes people with a learning disability, neurodiversity or cognitive impairment.

  • If you already have trusted whānau and supporters to help you make this decision, they can coach you on how to use a Supported Decision Making approach.
  • If you do not have any other trusted whānau or supporters, they can help you to understand, make and record this important decision.

Contact them on 0800 728 7878 or email 




Two young people working on a laptop

Can I get the vaccine if I have underlying health conditions? 

Last updated 16 September 2021

People with some underlying health conditions were offered the vaccine during the early stages of the roll out.

At this stage, underlying health conditions include:

  • serious and chronic respiratory conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • chronic kidney/renal disease
  • diabetes
  • coronary heart conditions
  • stroke
  • hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • cancer, excluding basal and squamous skin cancers if not invasive.

For more information, visit the Ministry of Health website. 



A vial of COVID-19 vaccine

Preparing your loved one for vaccination and consent form

Parents and carers, here's how you can prepare a loved one who might need extra support and strategies to have a successful vaccination experience.

Explore Behavioural Service created some really helpful resources, like using the "First-Then" approach (eg "First we will go to Granny's, then we'll go to the vaccine centre"), social script and breathing exercises.

FYI, here's what the vaccine COVID-19 consent form looks like, which needs to be completed on the day the vaccine is received. 


Published 16 July 2021   




Support worker with client

12–15 year-olds can now be vaccinated with their whānau  

  • Young people aged 12–15 will be able to join parents or caregivers getting their vaccination, making it easier for whānau to get vaccinated together.
  • Medsafe gave provisional approval for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for 12–15-year-olds in Aotearoa in June. The government has now approved the vaccine for use for 12–15-year-olds.
  • From Friday 20 August, as parents or guardians become eligible to book their vaccine, they can also book any 12–15-year-olds in their whānau.
  • People who already have a booking may be able to add to an existing booking or make an additional booking for their 12-15-year-old.
  • At this stage, the COVID-19 vaccine will not be available to children through their school-based vaccination programme. We will keep you updated on any changes in that area.
  • To make or change a booking:
    • go to  
    • phone the COVID Vaccination Healthline 0800 28 29 26, (8am-8pm, 7 days a week)
  • If you’ve already booked directly with your GP or pharmacy, talk to them about adding whānau members.


Published 20 August 2021

Teenager getting vaccinated

Why larger arms need a larger needle

If you’re a larger person with larger arms, you may have been given vaccines with a longer needle than someone smaller than you.

That’s because a longer needle gives vaccinators a better chance of getting the vaccine where it needs to go. The Pfizer vaccine is an intramuscular injection, meaning the needle needs to be able to get deep into the muscle in your upper arm. 

Most, but not all, vaccines are injected into muscle, as muscle tissue contains important immune cells. Injecting the vaccine into muscle tissue allows those immune cells to sound the alarm to other immune cells to get to work.

Some people are larger because they have a lot of muscle, while others have a lot of fat, but vaccinators will make a call on what size needle to use depending on the arm in front of them. 

This is an edited version of an article, Why larger arms need a larger needle for the Covid-19 vaccine. It’s part of The Whole Truth a COVID-19 fact checking series on the Stuff website written with the support of an expert advisory panel.

It is common for people to display some angst towards needles. But most people appreciate the benefits of vaccination. Having a conversation with the person and encouraging them to say why they are having the vaccination helps strengthen their commitment. IMAC has a useful factsheet that provides recommendations around managing vaccinations of people who are fearful of needles.


Published 20 August 2021


Person getting vaccinated.jpg

Gap between doses extended

Starting 12 August, the standard gap between the first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be 6 weeks.

Moving to a longer gap enables more people to have their first dose of the vaccine sooner. This is an important part of New Zealand being prepared for a possible outbreak of the more infectious Delta variant of the virus.

If you have already had your two doses closer together than six-weeks, you have received great protection against COVID-19. Early research shows that an extended gap between doses of the Pfizer vaccine also gives a robust immune response.

If you have vaccinations booked that are less than six weeks apart, you can keep your second appointment or choose to change it. For example, people with specific clinical treatment plans (such as those about to commence immunosuppressive treatment) or those at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 like border workers may be advised to have their doses with a shorter gap. The two doses must be given at least 21 days apart.

We also know people travelling overseas may require their doses sooner. This is okay too – it’s better to get two doses of the vaccine than to travel without being fully vaccinated.

The important thing is that you get two doses to be fully vaccinated.

The vaccine rollout is on track to make the vaccine available to everyone in New Zealand aged 16 and over by the end of the year.

To make or change a booking, go to or phone the COVID Vaccine Healthline on 0800 28 29 26. Remember, new bookings will default to six-weeks between first and second doses. If you’ve booked with your GP or pharmacy and want to change your appointment, please contact contact them.


Published 13 August 2021

Book your vaccine.png

How to get the COVID-19 vaccine for you and your whānau 

Last updated 16 September 2021

There are three ways to go about it: 

1. Walk-in 

People with disabilities and their family can turn up at any vaccination site without a booking. Please tell the people at the vaccination centre of any special needs so they can support you the best way possible. 

If you need transport support or have any questions, please call our Tiaki service on 0800 824 58 72 and we'll get it sorted. 

2. Call 0800 28 29 26 

The hotline is available from 8am – 8pm, 7 days a week, and they can make the booking for you and answer any questions.

The hotline has a team of over 1,000 fully-trained operators based across Aotearoa New Zealand. Translation services are available if you need them.

Be ready, and have your NHI on hand if you can. 
When you call, it’s a good idea to have your NHI number handy.
You don’t need it to book but it will make the process quicker for
you. You’ll find your NHI number on a prescription, x-ray or test
result, or a letter from the hospital.

3. Visit 

You can use this link to book your free vaccination.

If you need help with your booking please phone the vaccination helpline on 0800 28 29 26 or you can email There is no option to book via text at the moment.


FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

I need a sign language interpreter.

If you need a sign language interpreter please email and they will book your vaccination appointment and sign language interpreter for you at the same time.

Where are the vaccination centres? Are they accessible? 

If you don’t know where to go to get your vaccine please have a look at this website. You can see the accessibility and transport options for each Vaccination Centre.

I can't leave my home to have my vaccination. 

In some cases, people may be unable to leave their home to have a vaccination. Please contact us on 0800 824 5872 for support. 

Can I get my COVID-19 vaccine at a GP or pharmacy?

Some GPs and pharmacies are offering COVID-19 vaccinations, which may be an option for people with underlying medical conditions. You can check if your GP or local pharmacy is offering the COVID-19 vaccination by visiting

I need more information before I decide to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Here is an easy read version with pictures on making a decision about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. It also includes a decision-making tool that you can fill in yourself. For more easy read information about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit the Ministry of Health website.

How can I prepare a loved one from receiving the vaccine?

Explore Behavioural Service created some helpful resources for people who need extra support and strategies to have a successful vaccination experience.

Where can I find more information created for people with disabilities about the COVID-19 vaccine?

Our website has a collection of resources from the Ministry of Health and especially designed for people with disabilities. Just keep scrolling down. 


Thank you for helping to protect your whānau, aiga, community and the country from COVID-19. The more people who are vaccinated, the greater our protection as a community.

Remember – there’s enough of the vaccine for everyone. 




Book your vaccine.png

Drive through vaccination at Papakura Marae

Published 8 September 2021

Papakura Marae has set up a drive through clinic for disabled whanau and those with mental health concerns.

The clinic is open from 9.00 am to 3.00 pm Monday to Friday at 29 Hunua Rd Papakura.

Fill up your car with whanau including your disabled whanau and you will all get vaccinated.

You don’t have to book. Try to be there by 2 pm latest so you can be processed. Just turn up. Bring the whanau.

Tell the security guard that you have disabled whanau in the car and they will direct you where to go.



Man wearing face mask in car

FAQs for Pacific communities: COVID-19 and MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) immunisation and vaccination

Many people in our communities are looking forward to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine to protect them from getting and spreading COVID. If you still need more information before making a decision, please make sure to get them from a credible source. 

Here's a COVID and MMR FAQs (frequently asked questions) from the Ministry of Health especially created for our Pacific communities. 

The FAQs answers:

  • How can the COVID-19 vaccine be safe? It’s all happening so quickly.
  • If the COVID-19 vaccines work and be safe for Pacific people?
  • If it is safe to have the MMR vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time?

The Ministry of Health is also encouraging Pacific communities not to forget about the MMR vaccine. Numbers show Pasifika in New Zealand are about seven times more likely to catch measles. 

The Ministry of Health will publish the FAQ in other Pacific languages, and we'll make sure to share it here once it is available. 


Published 8 March 2021

Samoan men.jpg

Applying for an early vaccine

People travelling overseas for specific reasons, to countries that are not designated quarantine-free travel zones, can apply for early access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Applicants may need to provide their reason for travelling, to ensure it meets the criteria.

You’ll find more information on the Ministry of Health website.


Published 20 August 2021


A vial of COVID-19 vaccine

How does the vaccine work - in te reo

Last updated 15 September 2021

IMAC have shared a short video in te reo Māori answering the most common pātai we hear about the COVID-19 vaccine: How does it work?

This information can help inform whānau and alleviate them of any anxieties they have towards the vaccine. What’s even better is that this entire video is in te reo Māori.



Image of mixing up medicine in a lab.jpg

What’s in the COVID-19 vaccine?

If you want to know what’s in the Pfizer vaccine and what’s not, there’s useful information on our website. This includes a full list of vaccine ingredients and a video about how the vaccine works. The Pfizer vaccine doesn’t contain any live, dead or deactivated viruses. There are no animal products in it either.

Have a look at our COVID-19: How the vaccine works web page.

A recently released video NZ Vaccine facts: what is an mRNA vaccine? also looks at the vaccine. It’s the third in a series of eight videos being released over the next few weeks.

You’ll find the NZ Vaccine Facts series on YouTube.


Published 20 August 2021

A vial of COVID-19 vaccine

Simple overview of COVID-19 vaccines and their safety, despite being developed so fast

“Why did it take so fast to create the vaccine?” is one of the most frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s a video of Dr Ashley Bloomfield explaining clearly how we got there so fast.

Take time to watch Dr Rawiri provide advice on trusted information sources and recognising and avoiding misinformation.


Published 9 April 2021


Dr Bloomfield.JPG

Read up on COVID-19 vaccine info to help you plan and prepare

Last updated 16 September 2021

What to expect, what you need to know, and what happens after your vaccination--read up on the resources available on

Easy read, sign language, large print and audio

Alternate formats regarding COVID-19 vaccine




Unite against COVID-19

What brand of vaccine are we getting in New Zealand?

At this stage, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is the only
vaccine that has been approved by Medsafe as being safe and effective for use in New Zealand. 

The decision to make Pfizer New Zealand’s primary vaccine provider, was based on the fact the Pfizer vaccine has been shown to be about 95 percent effective at preventing symptomatic infection.

It also means all New Zealanders will have the chance to access the same vaccine.

The Government has guaranteed that every New Zealander will have access to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, after securing an additional 8.5 million doses. 

If you're curious about how COVID-19 vaccines work, visit for general information on COVID-19 vaccines. The resource is translated in several languages. 

Published 16 March 2021


Elderly man getting an injection on left arm.jpg

Vaccines: how safe and effective are they?

Last updated 16 September 2021

Many experts can provide evidence that the vaccines provide a significant layer is protecting people from COVID-19. But some members of our community may still feel anxious about vaccinations, especially when they don't have the right information about it. 

There are some very relevant kōrero on Te Ao with Moana (Māori TV) on vaccines. In this story, clinical immunologists Dr Anthony Jordan and Dr Maia Brewerton join Dr Rawiri Jansen and Moana to explore why some whânau are nervous about COVID-19 and the vaccination.

There are lots of information out there about vaccines. Remember: vaccines are medicines. If you have any questions about them, talk to your GP or specialist. It's also important to look for information from credible online sources like the NZ Ministry of Health website, Immunisation Advisory Centre and the World Health Organisation




COVID-19 vaccine FAQs in nine Pacific languages 

Last updated 16 September 2021

The Ministry for Pacific Peoples and Ministry of Health ran a nationwide fono with the Pacific church and community leaders in early March.

At the fono, the Pacific community raised some of the most important COVID-19 vaccine questions they have. In response, a team of experts, including clinical teams from the Ministry of Health, have provided credible and easy to understand information to help people learn know more about the vaccine. 

The FAQ is available in English, Te Reo Māori, Cook Islands Māori, Vosa Vakaviti, Kiribati, Vagahau Niue, Fäeag Rotųam, Gagana Samoa, Te Gagana Tokelau, Lea Faka Tonga, Te Gana Tuvalu.




Samoan men.jpg