The main COVID-19 vaccine we are using for primary doses in New Zealand is made by Pfizer-BioNTech. It is also known by its brand name, Comirnaty.
It is an mRNA-based (messenger ribonucleic acid) vaccine.
You need 2 doses. The standard gap between doses is 3 weeks or more.
For children aged 5 to 11, the recommended gap between doses is 8 weeks or more.
For children aged 6 months to 4 years, the vaccine is a 3-dose course. It is recommended the second dose is given 3 weeks after the first. Followed by a third dose given at least 8 weeks after the second dose.
You should not get the Pfizer vaccine if you have had a severe allergic reaction to this vaccine or its ingredients.
Pfizer BA.4/5 bivalent vaccine
The Pfizer BA.4/5 COVID-19 bivalent vaccine is the main COVID-19 vaccine we use for booster doses.
The Pfizer BA.4/5 bivalent vaccine is an updated version of the original vaccine and has 2 strains of the virus. This is compared to 1 strain of the original vaccine that we use for primary doses.
The bivalent vaccine contains equal parts of mRNA, and produces an immune response, for the original strain of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. Specifically, the Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.
A primary course of the COVID-19 vaccine will use the original vaccine. Boosters will use the updated bivalent vaccine, as Medsafe has only granted provisional approval for its use as a booster.
The Novavax (Nuvaxovid) COVID-19 vaccine is available for anyone aged 12 years and over who wants a different COVID-19 vaccine option.
It is a protein-based vaccine.
You need 2 doses. The standard gap between doses is 3 weeks.
Novavax is available as a booster at least 6 months after completing the primary course of any COVID-19 vaccine used in New Zealand for people aged 18 and over.
How vaccines are approved for use in New Zealand
Medsafe is New Zealand’s medicines safety authority. It checks applications for all new medicines, including vaccines, to make sure they meet international standards and local requirements.
It will only recommend approving a medicine for use in New Zealand if it meets these standards.
Vaccine side effects
As with all medicines, you might experience some mild side effects when you get a COVID-19 vaccination. This is common, and a sign that your body is learning to fight the virus.
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