COVID-19: Older people, their family and whānau

What you need to know right now to stay safe and healthy during the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

17 November 2021: The health and disability workforce is currently under pressure due to the mandated vaccination order. Providers may have to reduce household management services and client visits to enable them to focus support to those most in need. If you receive home and community support services and are concerned about what this might mean, please communicate with your provider about your needs over the next few months.

See the Ministry of Health’s full advisory on Homes and Community Support Services.

Last updated: 14 January 2022

This is where you will find information specifically for older people and their family and whānau.

If you are a disability or aged care provider see Aged care and disability providers.

If you are looking for information for disabled people and their whānau see the Unite against COVID-19 website.


On this page:


Staying safe

COVID-19 is an illness that can affect older people more. You may get cold or flu-like symptoms or become short of breath. It’s caused by a type of coronavirus. There are simple steps you can take to protect you and your family/whānau, such as maintaining good hygiene and cleaning practices, and keeping a physical distance from others. Read more about protecting yourself and about COVID-19 and its symptoms.

You may be able to work if you agree with you employer that you can do so safely; however, you should take extra precautions. Discuss with your employer whether you can work from home, or other ways to keep safe while at work or travelling to work. You should also speak to your friends, family or local GP to make sure you are safe.

If you are feeling unwell, you should stay home. Call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 to get advice on whether you should be tested.

Protecting yourself through vaccination

Getting your vaccination is an important step you can take to protect yourself and others from the effects of COVID-19.

The vaccine helps prevent you from getting infected and having COVID-19 symptoms, or severe illness. This means you could have no COVID-19 symptoms or will have much fewer, milder symptoms and recover faster.

While two doses is likely to hold a good degree of protection against severe disease from Delta and Omicron COVID-19 variants, a third dose is likely to offer great protection against transmission of COVID-19 and reduce the chance of more serious infections.

Anyone aged 18 or older who has had two doses of COVID-19 vaccine at least four months ago can get their free booster vaccine. You can get your booster at walk-in sites or book a time to receive yours on the Book My Vaccine website, or by calling the COVID Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26.

There are many places around New Zealand where you can get a COVID-19 vaccine without an appointment. You can find out information about walk-in and drive-through vaccination centres on the Unite Against COVID-19 website

If you are required to self-isolate or are not well

Reschedule your booking for a later date. Call 0800 28 29 26 or visit bookmyvaccine.nz

My Vaccine Pass

My Vaccine Pass is an official record of your COVID-19 vaccination status for use in Aotearoa New Zealand. You can get your My Vaccine Pass online through My Covid Record, over the phone (0800 222 478) or in person at a pharmacy. You can find more information on How to get My Vaccine Pass on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

You will need to be able to show your vaccine pass to access many services and activities.


COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic lights)

COVID-19 is likely to be with us for some time. We must be aware and manage the risks for ourselves and the people we care for. In New Zealand, our COVID-19 Protection Framework or ‘traffic light’ system is used to describe the level of risk and the restrictions that must be followed at each colour. Stay informed about New Zealand’s current alert levels and find out what this means for you and those you support on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Localised protections and lockdowns

Travel is often an essential activity in your daily life. Localised protections and lockdowns that limit travel may be used as part of the public health response to reduce COVID-19 infection in an impacted community. While travel across lockdown boundaries may be highly restricted, you or your family, whānau or āiga carers should still be able to travel locally within a lockdown for essential reasons such as:

  • accessing essential services such as chemists and supermarkets
  • going to get tested, vaccinated or to get medical care
  • supporting a family, whānau or āiga member who needs to travel to support their health and wellbeing
  • exercising within your neighbourhood or short travel to a place where you will exercise
  • shared caregiver arrangements
  • providing urgent care for a child or a person in a critical or terminal condition.

Whānau members travelling to provide support to someone in their family, whānau or āiga, can travel without an exemption letter.

Green – mild impact

If your community is at Green there is limited COVID-19 community transmission. 

Face coverings are mandatory on flights and are encouraged indoors, including if you are visiting any health care facility and retail business. Record keeping and scanning are required. You can find further information on the COVID-19 website.

If My Vaccine Pass is used

There are no limits if My Vaccine Pass is used for hospitality, gatherings (for example, weddings, tangihanga, social sports), indoor and outdoor events, services, such as hairdressers and gyms.

If My Vaccine Pass is not used

Gatherings, such as social sports, places of worship and weddings, events (indoor/outdoor) and gyms can have up to 100 people, based on one metre physical distancing. Gatherings at home can have up to 100 people.

Orange – moderate impact

If your community is at Orange there is community transmission that is putting pressure on the health system. Risk to some populations may be increasing.

Face coverings are mandatory on flights, public transport, in taxis, retail, public venues and encouraged elsewhere. Record keeping and scanning are required.

Public facilities (for example, libraries, public pools) and retail open with capacity limits based on one metre physical distancing.

You can find more information on the Unite against COVID-19 website.

If My Vaccine Pass is used

There are no limits if My Vaccine Pass is used for hospitality, gatherings (for example, weddings, social sports), tangihanga, indoor and outdoor events, services, such as hairdressers and gyms.

If My Vaccine Pass is not used

If a business, organisation or service, does not request proof of vaccine, restrictions do apply.

Gatherings, such as social sports, places of worship and weddings, and outdoor community events can have up to 50 people, based on one metre physical distancing.  Gatherings at home can have up to 50 people.

Events (indoor/outdoor), gyms, and close-proximity businesses (for example, hairdressers) cannot operate without a vaccination certificate.

Red – severe impact

If your community is at Red action is needed to protect at-risk people and protect our health system.

Face coverings are mandatory on flights, public transport, in taxis, retail, education (Year 4 and up, including tertiary), public venues and encouraged elsewhere. Record keeping and scanning are required.

Public facilities (for example, libraries, public pools) and retail are open with capacity limits based on one metre distancing.

You can find more information on the Unite against COVID-19 website.

If My Vaccine Pass is used

There will be restrictions, even if vaccination certificates are used.

Hospitality, gatherings at venues (for example, places of worship or marae), weddings, tangihanga, events (community and indoor/outdoor) and gyms will be able to open with up to 100 people, based on one metre physical distancing.  Gatherings at home can have up to 100 people.

Close-proximity businesses can operate with public health requirements in place.

If My Vaccine Pass is not used

If a business, organisation or service, does not request proof of vaccine, restrictions do apply.

Hospitality will be contactless only.

Gatherings, such as social sports, places of worship, weddings, tangihanga and outdoor community events can have up to 25 people, based on one metre physical distancing. Gatherings at home can have up to 25 people.

Events (indoor/outdoor), gyms, and close-proximity businesses (for example, hairdressers) cannot operate without a vaccination certificate.


Getting food, supplies and medicines

As an older person you may be more vulnerable to COVID-19 as you may have underlying health issues, therefore you might decide to reach out to friends, family and neighbours for support. Remember to follow good hygiene practices, keep your distance from people you don’t know, and stay home if you’re unwell.

There are also several support services available who can help you access services you need:


Services in the health and disability system

You can access health services as usual, however some non-urgent health services might be delivered in a different way – by phone or video call. This is to ensure health care workers are protected and can help where they are most needed. Contact the health service to see what level of service you they can offer.


Mental health and wellbeing resources 

COVID-19 is having a significant impact on how we interact with others and go about our daily lives. We know that this, combined with the stress of uncertainty can have an impact on our mental wellbeing. For information and resources to support your mental health and wellbeing, see Mental health and wellbeing resources.

If you feel you are not coping, it is important to talk with a health professional. Call your regular health care provider or for support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – to talk with a trained counsellor.


Caring for a person with dementia at home

If you or your whānau are caring for someone with dementia at home, information about ways to ensure you and the person with dementia can stay well can be found at Supporting a person with dementia at home.

If you or the person you are caring for require further support or information contact your local Alzheimers or dementia organisation.

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