Guide to the COVID-19 vaccine

Last updated on 07 October 2021

This page contains information about the COVID-19 vaccine for disabled people, their whānau and those who care for people with disabilities.

Information in other formats

The Ministry of Health website has lots of useful information about the COVID-19 vaccine in a range of formats.

Find easy-read resources about the COVID-19 vaccine (external website)

Watch sign language videos about the COVID-19 vaccine (external website)

Find large print and audio resources about the COVID-19 vaccine (external website)

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine now?

Anyone in New Zealand aged 12 or over can book to get their COVID-19 vaccine now.

Visit the Book My Vaccine website to book your vaccine appointment online. (external website)

A dedicated team is also available through the COVID Vaccination Healthline to support disabled people to get vaccinated.

To speak to the team, call 0800 28 29 26 and press the number 2. The team are available from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday.

You can receive tailored advice and support for booking your vaccination appointments, including assistance with coordinating transport to and from the vaccination site and arranging the necessary support/accommodations during the appointment.

Whakarongorau Aotearoa that run the COVID Vaccination Healthline has employed team members who are either disabled people themselves or who are allies to the disability community across Aotearoa.

How does the vaccine work? 

New Zealand is rolling out the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which requires two doses at least three weeks apart.

The vaccine doesn’t inject the COVID-19 virus into your body. Instead, it trains your body’s immune system to recognise the virus so it can defend against it.  

The vaccine doesn’t alter your DNA in anyway, and is quickly flushed out of your body after you get it. 


What happens when I get my first vaccination? 

When you arrive at the vaccination venue, someone will greet you and check your booking. You’ll get a card that contains your details. Don’t lose this – you'll need it when you come for your second dose. 

You’ll be asked to sign a consent form. You may have to wait in the waiting area for a little while. Depending on the day and time you go, there may be lots of other people there too. 

Your vaccinator will call your name and you’ll go into a booth or room to receive your injection. A small needle is inserted into the muscle in your upper left or right arm. It only takes a few seconds. 

After your injection you’ll be asked to make a time to come back for your second dose, then you’ll be monitored for 20 minutes in case you have any immediate side effects. Once a nurse says you’re fine, you can go. 

What about my second vaccination? 

The process for your second vaccination is much the same as the first, but when you arrive at the vaccination centre you need to show your card you got at your first appointment. This is to make sure you’re receiving the right dose at the right time. 

You’ll be protected from COVID-19 about seven days after your second vaccine dose. 

What are the side effects?

Some people experience mild flu-like symptoms for a couple of days after getting their vaccine. This is normal and is a sign your body is learning to fight the virus. 

Common reactions include pain around the area you got the injection, feeling tired, headaches, and muscle and joint aches. 

Find out more about the COVID-19 vaccine side effects and reactions (external website)

Supported decision making for getting the COVID-19 vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccine protects us all from the virus. By getting it, you’re not only protecting yourself but those around you. 

No one can force you to get the vaccine – you have to decide for yourself that it’s the right thing to do.

If you need support making decisions about this, or you support someone in making this decision, there are some Ministry of Health resources that might be helpful.

Find out how you can be supported to make decisions (easy-read document) (external website)

Learn about tools you can use if you're supporting someone else to make a decision (external website)

You can also get in touch with the Personal Advocacy and Safeguarding Adults Trust for support around making a decision about the vaccine.

Contact the Personal Advocacy and Safeguarding Adults Trust (external website)

Is it safe? 

Yes. Medsafe approved the Pfizer vaccine in New Zealand because it meets international standards and local requirements.

Millions of people worldwide have already had the vaccine with great success. Medsafe is continuing to monitor the safety of the vaccine as it’s used in New Zealand and around the world. 

What if I’m nervous about needles but still want to get the vaccine? 

The only way to receive the vaccination is through injection. Some people are nervous about needles – this is common, but there are ways to overcome it. 

Will the COVID-19 vaccine interfere with other medications? 

The chance of a negative reaction between the vaccine and any medication you’re taking is very small. If you're concerned about this, talk with your health professional. 

What if I still have questions? 

If you still have concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine call Healthline on 0800 358 5453, or speak to your health professional.