COVID-19 and vaccinations – what you need to know

Although there is no vaccination against COVID-19, you can protect yourself, your tamariki and your whānau against other serious illnesses such as whooping cough and measles.

Vaccination is one of the best ways to protect yourself, your tamariki and your whānau. It is still a priority during all COVID-19 alert levels, especially for new babies. Protect your whānau – vaccinate on time. Vaccination is recommended and safe during all COVID-19 alert levels.

Who should be vaccinated?

Babies and young children 

It is crucial that babies get their regular vaccinations as outlined in the National Immunisation Programme. These are usually given at 6 weeks, 3 months, 5 months, 15 months and 4 years. These vaccinations protect against a range of diseases, including whooping cough and measles. The risk of catching these diseases is as high as ever. Read more about childhood immunisation.

Pregnant women

Vaccination during pregnancy protects your pēpi when they are born and yourself during pregnancy against whooping cough (pertussis) and the flu

Pertussis vaccine: Pregnant women should have the pertussis vaccine in the second or third trimester of each pregnancy, preferably within the second trimester from 16 weeks, but at least 2 weeks prior to birth.

This allows enough time before the birth for your immune system to produce antibody protection against pertussis (whooping cough) and for high levels of antibodies to pass through the placenta into your baby. This gives your baby its own temporary protection against severe disease. Read more about pregnancy and immunisation.

Flu vaccine: This can be given to pregnant women any time during pregnancy. It stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies, reducing the risk of you getting the flu. The antibodies also pass across the placenta into your baby's bloodstream, protecting your baby from the flu for up to 6 months after birth. Read more about pregnancy and immunisation.

People aged 65 years and older 

The flu vaccination programme was started earlier this year to ensure the eligible and most vulnerable members of the community got their flu vaccine as soon as possible.

Being protected against the flu will not protect you against COVID-19, but it helps reduce hospital admissions. For a complete list of who is eligible for the free flu vaccine, see eligibility criteria

Do I need to book an appointment with my doctor for vaccinations?

Yes, call your doctor or nurse ahead of time, so they can explain how they will keep you and your whānau safe while giving you a vaccine. All healthcare services have procedures in place to make vaccinating safe, such as:

  • a special day or time set aside for vaccinations
  • appointments spaced out so there’s no overlap between patients
  • appointment rooms cleaned thoroughly between patients
  • a separate area set aside for vaccinations.

Before being vaccinated
Before seeing your doctor or nurse, you may be asked a few questions about your family’s general health.

If you think you or a member of your whānau has been exposed to COVID-19, it’s important to let your doctor or nurse know before you come for an appointment.

If you, your child or a member of your whānau is feeling sick talk to your doctor or nurse before coming for your appointment. They can let you know the best time to get your child vaccinated.

After the vaccinations
After a vaccination, you may be asked to wait for a short time. This is a safety measure to make sure that medical treatment is available in the rare case that an allergic reaction occurs.

References

  1. Keep calm and keep vaccinating! Ministry of Health, The Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ, 2020
  2. Observation period post influenza vaccination – 13 years and above The Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ, 2020
Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.