Vaccine development, safety and effectiveness

COVID-19 vaccines used in New Zealand must meet international standards and local requirements for quality, safety and efficacy.

How COVID-19 vaccines were developed quickly and safely

Creating the COVID-19 vaccines took a global effort, but the world united to take on the challenge. And we did not start from scratch — researchers were able to use their knowledge of other coronaviruses and vaccine development.

The vaccines have been developed very quickly but without taking any shortcuts in the necessary processes or compromising safety.

Vaccine clinical trials and testing — Ministry of Health (external link)

NZ Vaccine Facts: Are vaccines safe?

Vaccine assessment and approval in New Zealand

Medsafe is New Zealand’s medicines safety authority. It evaluates applications for all new medicines, including vaccines, to make sure they meet international standards and local requirements.

Medsafe will only recommend a medicine is approved for use in New Zealand if it meets these standards.

The Pfizer vaccine has been provisionally approved (with conditions) for use in New Zealand.

This means it is been formally approved after a thorough assessment, but Pfizer must give Medsafe ongoing data and reporting to show that it meets international standards.

Assessing and approving the vaccines — Ministry of Health (external link)

Other vaccines we have agreed to purchase — Ministry of Health  (external link)

The Government has approved the Pfizer vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds in New Zealand, following Medsafe’s provisional approval in June.

The Pfizer vaccine has already been approved for 12 to 15-year-olds in Canada, the USA, Europe, and Japan.

People under the age of 12 are not able to get the Pfizer vaccine at this stage.

How vaccine safety is monitored

Medsafe will continue to monitor the safety and efficacy of the vaccine as it is used. It will assess ongoing data and reporting, such as large clinical trials across the world and reporting by healthcare professionals and people who have received the vaccine.

Vaccine safety monitoring process — Medsafe (external link)

Vaccine effectiveness

The Pfizer vaccine is highly effective if people have both doses

Studies show that about 95% of people who have received both doses of the vaccine are protected against getting COVID-19 symptoms.

This means that once you are fully vaccinated, you are far less likely to fall seriously ill and less likely to transmit the virus to others.

NZ Vaccine Facts: What is a virus and how do vaccines work?

Vaccine effectiveness and protection — Ministry of Health (external link)

Delta variant

Being fully vaccinated gives you a high degree of protection against Delta infection, and an even higher degree of protection against severe illness, hospitalisation and death.

Evidence currently shows the effectiveness of 2 doses of the Pfizer vaccine against illness due to Delta infection is about 88%, and the protection against hospitalisation due to Delta infection about 96%.

NZ Vaccine Facts: Do vaccines work when a virus changes?

COVID-19: About the Delta variant — Ministry of Health (external link)

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