What to expect when you get your vaccination

Find out what will happen at your COVID-19 vaccination appointments.

What happens at your appointment

1. When you get there

A healthcare worker will talk you through what is going to happen.

You'll be asked:

  • for your name, date of birth and physical address so we can verify this in the COVID Immunisation Register (you don't need to show photo ID)
  • to give your verbal consent to receive the vaccine — this is standard practice for any vaccination.

Note: If you're in Group 1, you will be asked to give written consent. This was the original consent process.

The vaccine and your privacy — Ministry of Health (external link)

2. Getting your vaccination

A fully trained vaccinator will give you the vaccine in your upper arm.

3. After receiving your vaccination

You’ll need to stay for at least 20 minutes after your vaccination so we can make sure you’re okay.

We'll record information about your COVID-19 immunisations in our COVID Immunisation Register (CIR). You’ll be given a card that shows the date you've been vaccinated and the batch number.

Getting 2 doses of the vaccine, at least 21 days apart, is important to give you the best protection. Check your second vaccination is booked and keep a note of where and when it will take place.

Information sheets

Getting your COVID-19 vaccine: What to expect [PDF, 142 KB]

Getting your COVID-19 vaccine — simplified version [PDF, 194 KB]

After your immunisation [PDF, 86 KB]

COVID-19 vaccines privacy statement [PDF, 116 KB]

Which vaccine you’ll be given

The Pfizer vaccine is the only COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in New Zealand. We have secured 10 million doses – enough for 5 million people to get the 2 doses they need to be protected.

It works by teaching your immune system to recognise and fight off the virus.

The Pfizer vaccine:

  • is a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine
  • does not contain any live virus, or dead or deactivated virus
  • can't give you COVID-19
  • can't affect your DNA
  • does not contain any animal products.

You’ll need to get your second dose of the vaccine at least 21 days (3 weeks) after your first dose.

How the vaccine works — Ministry of Health (external link)

Vaccine safety and approval — Ministry of Health (external link)

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

Common side effects

As with all medicines, you might experience some mild side effects. This is common, and a sign that your body is learning to fight the virus.

Vaccination side effects

Changing your appointment

If you need to change or cancel your appointment you can:

If you’re sick before your appointment

If you’re unwell and cannot make your appointment, you’ll need to reschedule it as soon as possible.

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 a negative test.

After your vaccination

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're fully vaccinated, you're far less likely to fall seriously ill and less likely to transmit the virus to others.

To further reduce the risk of catching and transmitting the virus, it's important to follow these simple steps to slow the spread of the virus and help protect you, your whānau, and community:

  • Regularly wash and thoroughly dry your hands.
  • Sneeze and cough into your elbow.
  • Keep a 2 metre distance from people you do not know.
  • Clean or disinfect shared surfaces often.
  • Wear a face covering.
  • If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, stay home and call your GP or Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453.

Protect yourself and others from COVID-19

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