What to expect when you get your vaccination

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

What will happen at your appointment

1. When you get there

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

You will be asked:

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

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 will need to stay for at least 15 minutes after your vaccination so we can make sure you are okay.

Which COVID-19 vaccine you will get

Pfizer is the preferred COVID-19 vaccine for use in New Zealand.

If you are 18 years of age or older and either you cannot get the Pfizer vaccine or you want a different option, you can get the AstraZeneca or the Novavax vaccine.

You will be given the option to choose your vaccine type when you book. The AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines are not available at all vaccination sites.

Whichever vaccine you get, you will need 2 doses.

COVID-19 vaccines used in New Zealand

Effectiveness of vaccination against variants


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%.

COVID-19: About the Delta variant | health.govt.nz (external link)


Data is emerging that a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine provides better protection than a 2-dose course against the Omicron variant. 

While 2 doses provide some degree of protection against severe disease from Omicron, a booster is likely to offer greater protection against transmitting COVID-19 to others, and reduce the chance of more serious infections.

Get your vaccine booster

COVID-19: About the Omicron variant | health.govt.nz (external link)

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

Side effects

Getting your second dose

Whether you get the Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Novavax vaccine, it is important to get 2 doses for the best protection.

The standard gap between doses is:

  • 3 weeks or more for the Pfizer and Novavax vaccines
  • 4 weeks or more for the AstraZeneca vaccine.

For children aged 5 to 11, the recommended gap is 8 weeks or more between doses.

Getting your second dose

Protecting yourself and others from COVID-19

Clinical trials found that the Pfizer vaccine gave 95% protection and the AstraZeneca vaccine 81% protection against the symptoms of COVID-19.

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.

To further reduce the risk of catching and transmitting the virus, it is 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 mask.
  • If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, stay home and call your doctor or Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453.

Healthy habits

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