COVID-19 vaccines used in New Zealand

Pfizer is the preferred COVID-19 vaccine for use in New Zealand. The AstraZeneca and Novavax COVID-19 vaccines are also available for people aged 18 and over.

Pfizer

The main COVID-19 vaccine we are using 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.

You should not get the Pfizer vaccine if you have had a severe allergic reaction to this vaccine or its ingredients.

How the Pfizer vaccine works | Ministry of Health (external link)

AstraZeneca

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is available for anyone aged 18 years and over who either wants a different option or if you cannot get the Pfizer vaccine.

It is a viral vector vaccine.

You need 2 doses. The standard gap between doses is 4 weeks or more.

You should not get the AstraZeneca vaccine if you:

  • have had a severe allergic reaction to this vaccine or its ingredients
  • have had a major blood clot at the same time as having low levels of platelets (thrombocytopenia) after receiving any COVID-19 vaccine 
  • have had Capillary Leak Syndrome (CLS — a condition causing fluid leakage from small blood vessels).

COVID-19 vaccines: Getting AstraZeneca | Ministry of Health (external link)

AstraZeneca will no longer be available from 5 September 2022. If you are planning to get an AstraZeneca booster, your appointment must be on or before 4 September.

Novavax

The Novavax (Nuvaxovid) COVID-19 vaccine is available for anyone aged 18 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.

COVID-19 vaccines: Getting Novavax | Ministry of Health

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.

How COVID-19 vaccines are assessed | Ministry of Health (external link)

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.

Side effects of COVID-19 vaccines

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