How COVID-19 vaccines are developed and approved

COVID-19 vaccines used in New Zealand must comply with international and local standards for quality, safety and effectiveness.

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 didn’t start from scratch — similar research was already well underway for similar diseases.

As a result, the vaccines could be made faster, whilst still ensuring they went through all the safety checks.

Who decides if a vaccine can be used in New Zealand

In New Zealand, applications for all new medicines, including vaccines, are assessed by New Zealand's Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority (Medsafe).

Medsafe is responsible for regulating all medicines and medical devices in New Zealand. They are part of the Ministry of Health.

Medsafe will only approve a vaccine for use in New Zealand once they are confident it meets all the safety checks we have in New Zealand and complies with international standards for safety effectiveness and quality of the vaccine.

We have agreements with four suppliers for COVID-19 vaccines. These are Pfizer, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Novavax and AstraZeneca. The only COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in New Zealand is the Pfizer vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccines we've agreed to purchase (external link)

How we know a vaccine is safe

Medsafe (New Zealand's medicines safety authority) only grants consent for a vaccine to be used in New Zealand once they are satisfied it's safe and effective to use.

All COVID-19 vaccines will go through the same safety tests and must meet the same robust standards.

Reporting side effects

The Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM) is a database of information about adverse reactions (side effects) to medicines and vaccines in New Zealand.

CARM monitors this information to identify any issues to help with the safe use and prescribing of medicines. 

Reporting your side effects will contribute to the data being collected globally, and help identify patterns in New Zealand and any potential safety issues.

Report your side effects to CARM (external link)

Reported side effects in New Zealand (external link)

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