COVID-19 vaccine: Advice for different health circumstances

Information for specific situations, including feeling unwell, waiting on a COVID-19 test result, underlying health conditions, pregnancy and other circumstances.

Last updated: 10 November 2022


Vaccine advice if you:

are unwell or have a fever

If you’re unwell on the day of your vaccination or have a fever over 38°C it’s important to delay your COVID-19 vaccine until you’re feeling better.

To cancel or modify your booking you can:

have/had COVID-19

Even if you’ve had COVID-19 you should still get any COVID-19 vaccinations you’re eligible for.  

You should wait 3 months after you tested positive before you get any COVID-19 vaccination. 

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine if you've had COVID-19

are taking antibiotics

If you’re taking antibiotics you can get the COVID-19 vaccine as long as you’re not feeling significantly unwell from your infection. You may want to talk this through with your doctor.

are pregnant, trying for a baby or breastfeeding

You can get the COVID-19 vaccine at any stage of pregnancy, while trying for a baby or while breastfeeding.

Getting the vaccine during pregnancy or while breastfeeding may also help protect your baby as there’s evidence that infants can get antibodies to the virus through cord blood and breast milk.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding – vaccine advice

are getting other vaccines

The majority of routine vaccinations can be administered before, after, or at the same time as your Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

The only exceptions to this advice are for:

  • the shingles vaccine Zostavax, where a 7-day interval is advised before or after administering the Pfizer vaccine
  • the shingles vaccine Shingrix and influenza vaccine Fluad Quad, where a 3-day interval before or after Novavax is recommended.  

are immunocompromised

If you’re immunocompromised, you have a higher risk of getting serious infection if you’re exposed to COVID-19. 

Most people receive two primary doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. But those who are severely immunocompromised might not produce a sufficiently strong immune response after two doses, so a third primary dose is recommended for ages 5 and over, if they meet the criteria for ‘severely immunocompromised’.  

COVID-19 vaccine: Severely immunocompromised people

have cancer

People with cancer have a higher risk of getting serious infection if they’re exposed to COVID-19 (as with others who are immunocompromised).

At this stage, there’s no evidence that suggests the Pfizer vaccine (Comirnaty) interacts with cancer treatments.

Discuss the timing of your vaccination with your doctor or specialist. Depending on your treatment, you may be able to time your vaccination appointments between rounds of treatment for the best immune response.

Cancer and COVID-19 vaccines – Te Aho o Te Kahu (Cancer Control Agency)

CT scans and mammograms – vaccine advice

are having a CT scan or mammogram after your vaccination

If you’re going for a CT scan or breast screening (mammogram or ultrasound) after you get the COVID-19 vaccine, it's important to let the radiographer and/or doctor know you’ve recently been vaccinated.

The vaccine can occasionally cause the lymph nodes in your armpit or neck to swell for a few days. This may be seen on the mammogram or ultrasound for up to a few weeks or in a CT scan, including those that are used to diagnose and monitor cancers.

If you need a CT scan, mammogram or ultrasound, you should not delay these appointments. If you have concerns, discuss them with your specialist or radiographer.

have HIV

If you have HIV you’re encouraged to be vaccinated. People with HIV were included in clinical trials for the Pfizer vaccine (Comirnaty). The data specific to this group is not yet available but showed no safety concerns.

Based on what we know about people living with HIV and their response to other vaccines:

  • you may have a weaker response to some vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine
  • if you have a suppressed viral load you’re likely to have some protection from the COVID-19 vaccine.

If you’re newly diagnosed and starting HIV treatment, take advice from your specialist about the timing of your vaccination.

Any medication you’re taking for HIV is not expected to change how effective the COVID-19 vaccine is. The vaccine will not affect your HIV medication.​

are taking blood-thinning medication

Let your vaccinator know at your appointment if you’re taking blood-thinning medication. This is because the Pfizer vaccine (Comirnaty) is given intramuscularly (into the muscle of the upper arm), this increases the risk of bleeding for some people on these medications.

The vaccine itself doesn’t have an increased risk of bleeding.

have had an allergic reaction to any vaccine

If you’ve had a serious or immediate allergic reaction to any vaccine or injection in the past, discuss this with your vaccinator.

If you have a history of anaphylaxis

You shouldn’t get the Pfizer vaccine (Comirnaty) if you have a history of anaphylaxis:

  • to any ingredient in the Pfizer vaccine
  • to a previous dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

What’s in the Pfizer vaccine

 

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