COVID-19: New Zealand Sign Language

Information on COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) and the vaccine in New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL).

Sign language logo. Last updated: 13 August 2021

These sign language videos are provided by Deaf Aotearoa.

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Vaccine information

COVID-19 information

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Vaccine information

About the COVID-19 vaccine

What is a vaccine?

  • Vaccines protect you and help stop you getting sick.
  • Some vaccines you may have had before include the flu and measles vaccine.
  • Most vaccines are an injection that you get in your arm.

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

  • The COVID-19 vaccine works by teaching your body to fight the virus, so you don’t get sick.
  • You need two doses of the vaccine to get the best protection.

Why should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

  • The COVID-19 vaccine will help protect you from getting sick from the virus.
  • It will help reduce the risk of passing the virus on to your family, friends and community.

There are enough vaccines for everyone

  • The New Zealand Government bought enough vaccine for everyone in New Zealand, and some of the Pacific Islands.
  • Everyone, 16 years and over, who wants a COVID-19 vaccine will get one.
  • The Government encourages everyone to get a vaccination.

The vaccine is free for everyone

  • The COVID-19 vaccine is free for everyone in New Zealand.
  • You won’t have to pay any money to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • If you visit your family doctor to get the vaccine, the appointment will be free.

Will getting the vaccine stop me giving COVID-19 to others?

This is a new vaccine. We know it will help stop you feeling sick from COVID-19. We don’t know yet if it will stop you from catching the virus and giving it to your friends or family, so continue to stay at home if you’re unwell, cover coughs or sneezes and wash your hands.

Will the vaccine give me COVID-19?

No, you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Is the vaccine safe?

  • The vaccine was tested by Medsafe; they checked very carefully to make sure the COVID-19 vaccine is safe enough to give to people.
  • Medsafe’s job is to check how safe and effective medicines are.
  • Medsafe is independent and is not part of the companies that make the vaccine – they cannot influence the decisions Medsafe makes.
  • The vaccine has already been safely given to millions of people around the world.
  • The vaccine will not give you COVID-19.

How can the vaccine be safe when it was developed faster than usual?

  • Because of how bad COVID-19 is, scientists and governments from around the world worked together to find a vaccine to help stop people from getting sick or dying.
  • Sharing information and funding meant they could work faster than normal and without affecting the safety of the vaccine.

How does the vaccine work?

The Pfizer vaccine is an mRNA vaccine that protects us against COVID-19. How does it work? Let’s start by looking at the coronavirus.

This is the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus uses the spikes on its surface to enter our cells. The spikes of the virus also help our body to identify the virus as an intruder.

The vaccine works by showing our body the spike protein, so our immune system can prepare to quickly spot and attack the virus.

To create the vaccine, scientists created mRNA (or messenger RNA) that contains the recipe for building the spike protein. This acts as a messenger carrying instructions to our cells.

When we get the vaccine, the mRNA instructs our cells to build copies of the spike protein. They only build the spike protein, not the whole virus. As our bodies build these copies, our immune systems kick in and create antibodies to fight off the intruders.

We get two doses of the vaccine because the first dose starts to build our immune response and the second dose acts as a booster so our immune system can remember and mount a stronger response when it encounters the virus.

Once the immune system is primed, it will remember the virus for months or even years. If we encounter the virus in the future, the immune system will launch an antibody attack immediately.

Nothing is left behind from the vaccine (our body breaks down the mRNA) and there is no possibility of the vaccine affecting our body’s DNA.

Who can get the COVID-19 vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccine will be offered to everyone in New Zealand 16 years and older

  • The vaccine will not be given to people aged 15 or younger. This is because there has not been a lot of testing of the COVID-19 vaccine on children yet.
  • If you are pregnant talk to your vaccinator, midwife or doctor.
  • If you have had an allergic reaction to any vaccine or injection in the past, tell your vaccination.
  • If you are on medicines that thin your blood or have a bleeding disorder, please let your vaccinator know.
  • If you are worried about getting vaccinated because of your health or any medicines you take, talk to your doctor.
  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms, get a test and stay at home until you get your results. You can be vaccinated once you have a negative test.
  • A vaccinator is a person who is trained to give you the COVID-19 vaccine. It may be a nurse or your doctor.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine

Choosing to get the vaccine

  • Getting the vaccine will help stop you from getting sick from COVID-19.
  • We encourage you to take this opportunity to get the vaccine.
  • It is not compulsory to have the COVID-19 vaccine; it is your choice if want to you get it.
  • If you don’t want the vaccine, you don’t have to get it.
  • If you’re worried or not sure about getting the vaccine, talk to your family doctor or vaccination.

Two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine

  • You get the best protection against COVID-19 after two doses of the vaccine.
  • It is important you get your second injection, so the vaccine works well.
  • You will be asked to get your second dose of the vaccine at least three weeks after your first dose.

How will I get my vaccine?

  • Where you get your vaccine will depend on when you are due to get your vaccine.
  • There will be different options to make getting the vaccine as easy as possible, including through Māori and Pacific providers, doctors, pop-up centres, pharmacies, medical and hauora centres and community clinics.

Interpreters & support people

  • You can ask that an interpreter come with you to your appointment if you need one.
  • You can take a support person with you to your appointment.

Getting the vaccine

  • When you go to your vaccination, a healthcare worker will ask you about your health history, such as what medication you take or what conditions you have. They will also give you some information about the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • If you want the vaccine, you will need to agree to getting the vaccine. Your vaccinator can give you information to help you decide.
  • If you say yes, the vaccinator will give you the COVID-19 vaccine into your arm using a needle.
    • The vaccine will usually go into your upper arm.
    • You will need to relax and sit still.
    • You can look away from your arm and close your eyes if you are feeling nervous.
    • You can also listen to music or talk to someone who supports you.
    • The vaccinator will wipe your skin clean first.
    • You may feel a pinch when the needle goes in.
    • The vaccinator will cover the place where the needle went in with a band-aid, or tape and a cotton ball.

What happens after I get the vaccine?

  • You’ll need to stay for at least 20 minutes after your vaccine so the healthcare worker can check that you’re ok and not having an allergic reaction to the vaccine. Your support person can stay with you.
  • Once the healthcare worker says you’re fine, you can leave and carry on with your day.

How might I feel after I get the vaccine?

  • Some people might get side effects. This can happen with all medicines.
  • The most common side effects are:
    • a sore arm from your injection – you can put a cold cloth or ice pack on it to feel better
    • a headache
    • or feeling tired.
  • These side effects are usually mild and shouldn’t last long.
  • If you are worried about how you feel after your vaccine, speak with your doctor or call Healthline 0800 358 5453.
  • Call 111 if you’re really worried.

Allergic reactions

  • It’s very unlikely you will get a bad allergic reaction after your vaccine.
  • Staying for at least 20 minutes after your vaccine means the healthcare workers can make sure you are ok and don’t have any reactions.
  • If you do have a reaction, the healthcare workers are trained to help you.

Can I get my flu or MMR vaccine at the same time as my COVID-19 vaccine?

  • You cannot get your flu or MMR vaccine at the same time as your COVID-19 vaccine.
  • You need to get your flu or Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine at a different time to your COVID-19 vaccine. This is in case you get any side effects, so your doctor knows what made you unwell.
  • You can get your flu vaccine two weeks before your first COVID-19 dose or two weeks after your second COVID-19 dose.
  • You can get your MMR vaccine four weeks before your first COVID-19 dose or four weeks after your second COVID-19 dose.
  • If your vaccine appointments are close together, you should get your COVID-19 vaccine first and talk to your doctor about moving your other appointment.

COVID-19 Vaccine: Rollout plan

We have a plan to provide a free vaccine to protect everyone in Aotearoa.

Some of us are more at risk of getting really sick or even dying from COVID-19.

The best way to protect you, your kaumātua and whānau is to get vaccinated.

Change to the recommended vaccine dose gap

To enable more people to have their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine faster, the Ministry of Health is recommending a longer gap between the first and second dose, from three weeks to six weeks or more.

If you have already had your two doses closer together than six-weeks, you have received great protection against COVID-19.

If you have vaccinations booked that are less than six weeks apart, you can keep your second appointment or choose to change it.

The important thing is that you get two doses to be fully vaccinated.

The vaccine rollout is on track to make the vaccine available to everyone in New Zealand aged 16 and over by the end of the year.

To make or change a booking, go to, or phone 0800 28 29 26.

If you have booked with your GP or pharmacy, contact them.



COVID-19 information

What is COVID-19

What is COVID-19?

  • COVID-19 is a virus that can make people very sick.
  • A virus is a sickness that can spread from one person to another person.
  • Here in New Zealand we have all worked hard to stop the spread of COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 is still a very big problem in many countries around the world.
  • Most people get better from COVID-19, but some must go to hospital and people can die.
  • There are now vaccines that will help stop us getting sick from COVID-19.

What are the signs of COVID-19?

  • A cough
  • A high temperature – this is when you feel very hot
  • Finding it hard to breathe
  • A sore throat
  • Sneezing and a runny nose
  • Not being able to smell or taste things, when you could before

Symptoms of COVID-19

How do I identify the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms include: fever, coughing, difficulty breathing, sore throat, sneezing plus runny nose, loss of smell.

These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have COVID-19.

The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.

Shortness of breath is a sign of possible pneumonia and requires immediate medical attention.

If you have these symptoms please call Healthline for free on 08003855453 using the Video Relay Service.

Dedicated 0800 number

Dedicated Healthline 0800 number for COVID-19 health advice and information.

The number is 0800 358 5453

It is free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You should call that dedicated number, to register if you have self-isolated yourself.

Healthline’s main number is still the one to call for non-coronavirus health concerns - 0800 611 116.

Whichever number you call, you will get professional health advice and information.

Advice on self-isolation

COVID-19 (also known as Coronavirus) has broken out in several countries.

If you have departed from one of these affected countries in the last 14 days,

or you have been in close contact with someone who is confirmed with COVID-19, in the last 14 days,

 you may have been exposed to or infected with COVID-19.

You may not know if you have been exposed as it may take up to two weeks for symptoms to present.

To keep yourself and others safe by self-isolation.

This means if you departed a country where there has been an outbreak of COVID-19,

or you have been in close contact with someone who is confirmed with COVID-19, 

you need to self-isolate for 14 days from the date of departure or meeting of the person.

What does it mean to self-isolate?

This means not meeting with other people. Don't go to work, school, church, or shopping etc.

You should stay at least 1m away from other people.

If you share a home with other people, avoid close contact with other people,

 don't share dishes, food, towels, pillows etc.

It is important that dishes are cleaned in the dishwasher and use the washing machine for towels and pillows etc.

Remember to cover your nose and mouth if you need to cough or sneeze.

You can use the sleeve of your arm,

or you can use a tissue and dispose of the tissue in a bin.

When you have finished, you should wash your hands.

Remember to wash you hands with warm water and soap.

You can use a hand sanitizer.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. 

If you need food shopping, you can ask family or friends to do this for you, 

or you can place an order via online shopping and arrange for delivery at the door. This is safe.

 It is best that you avoid using public transport, taxis and uber where you share facilities.

Contact Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453

The symptoms of COVID-19 are cough, fever, and shortness of breath.


How it spreads

How COVID-19 spreads?

Like the flu, COVID-19 can be transmitted from person to person.

When an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, they may generate droplets containing the virus.

Droplet-spread diseases can be spread by, coughing and sneezing, contact with an object or surface with viral particles on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

That's why it's really important to practice good hygiene, regularly wash and thoroughly dry your hands and practice good cough etiquette.


You can take some simple steps to help stop the spread of diseases like COVID-19.

Avoid close contact with people with cold or flu-like illnesses.

Cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing.

Before eating or handling food, after using the toilet, after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or wiping children’s noses, after caring for sick people.

Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap and dry them thoroughly.

Contact tracing

NZ COVID Tracer app

Masks and face coverings

Who needs to wear a mask or face covering in Alert Level 3?

Face coverings not mandatory but are recommended when out and about in Alert Level 3.

You can use a re-usable or disposable mask, or another kind of face covering, like a scarf, bandana or t-shirt.

Note that masks are mandatory for those leaving Auckland on an aircraft.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

You may see people around wearing PPE. PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment and is used to protect you and other people from getting or spreading COVID-19. PPE might look like:

  • People wearing masks to cover their mouth and nose, and
  • Gloves,
  • Gowns or plastic aprons,
  • Eye protection or face shields.

It’s essential to keep everyone safe, and PPE is a good and critical way of doing that.

People might wear PPE when their job requires them to be within 2 metres of someone else, or if people have health problems that could cause them to get sick easily.

People that might wear PPE are doctors, nurses, carers, support workers, and even some other visitors to your home.

You may be required to wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose in some situations, especially if you’re unwell and seeing a doctor. If you are unable to wear a mask for medical, physical, or communication reasons, you will not have to wear one.

You may also be required to wear a mask in some community settings under certain Alert Levels where COVID-19 is spreading within communities. These masks can be purchased from several places such as pharmacies or hardware stores.

PPE might look a little scary, but it’s a good thing.

The people wearing PPE are just the same people who would look after you, or visit you ordinarily, and they’re wearing it to keep you and them safe.

If you’re feeling unwell, it’s important to tell your carers, support workers, or the doctors who look after you.This is so that they can make sure they know what PPE to use to keep you and themselves safe.

If you do wear a mask, you must do so correctly, this means:

  • Making sure your hands are clean when you put the mask on,
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water and dry them thoroughly;
  • If you can’t access soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser containing at least 60% alcohol. If you’re using sanitiser, make sure that you use enough to cover your hands and rub your hands together until dry;
  • Put the face mask over your nose and mouth and secure it with ties or loops. Make sure the mask fits snugly and fully covers your mouth, nose and chin;
  • Your mask should be comfortable with no gaps between the mask and your face, and lets you breathe easily;
  • Don’t touch the front of your mask or your face or eyes;
  • Replace your face mask if it becomes damp, damaged, or soiled;
  • Before you take your mask off, clean your hands again by washing them or using alcohol-based hand sanitiser;
  • Take your mask off carefully by holding the ear loops or untying the ties. For face masks with a pair of ties, undo the bottom tie first, then the top one;
  • If you are using a single-use mask, when you are finished using it make sure it is put in a closed bin or in a sealed plastic bag before you put it in the bin;
  • Clean your hands again;
  • Don’t reuse or try to disinfect single-use disposable face masks; If you are using a reusable cloth mask, make sure it’s washed use using hot water (60 degrees Celsius) after each use and clothes detergent. Make sure it is completely dry before reusing it.

While PPE is important, it’s also essential to maintain good hygiene practises, these include:

  • making sure your mouth and nose is covered by your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze;
  • putting used tissues in the bin, or a bag immediately and cleaning your hands immediately;
  • wash your hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds, and dry them thoroughly, or use hand sanitiser (as above);
  • avoid close contact with people if you’re unwell; keep a physical distance of at least two metres from others;
  • Clean surfaces regularly, especially ones that are used or touched often, for example, tabletops, counters, light switches, and touch screens.

If you are someone who relies on New Zealand Sign Language, or visual facial cues such as lip reading, or are needing to communicate with someone who does. In that case, you are allowed to remove your mask to communicate. However, you must maintain a physical distance of 2 metres when you do.

If you wear a hearing aid, you need to be careful when putting on or taking off your face mask to make sure you don’t lose your hearing aid or get it tangled in the mask ties or loops. You may find that using face masks that tie around the head, rather than those that loop over the ears, will help keep the mask loops free from your hearing aid.

Stay healthy and safe against COVID-19

The COVID-19 vaccine is one way to keep you safe from COVID-19

You must still:

  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Wipe down all commonly used surfaces
  • Wash or sanitise your hands
  • Wear a mask on public transport if you are able to
  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms, get a test
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Keep track of where you go – you can write this down or use the NZ COVID Tracer app; turn on Bluetooth on your phone.

Golden rules for Businesses at Alert Level 2

Do everything you can to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission at work — we all have a part to play in keeping each other safe. 

  1. COVID-19 is still out there. Play it safe.
  2. All businesses can operate if they can do so safely. Alternative ways of working are still encouraged where possible.
  3. Talk with your workers to identify risks and ways to manage them.
  4. Ask everyone, workers, contractors and customers, with cold or flu-like symptoms to stay away from your premises.
  5. Keep groups of customers at least 1 metre apart, or 2 metres for retail businesses.
  6. Keep contact tracing records of anyone who will have close interaction for example workers, contractors or customers. Retail businesses are not required to keep contact tracing records.
  7. All businesses must display a government issued QR code for use with the NZ COVID Tracer App by 19 August.
  8. Face coverings are strongly encouraged if you are in close contact with others.
  9. Reduce the number of shared surfaces, and regularly disinfect them.
  10. Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.

Golden rules for Businesses at Alert Level 3

  1. If your business requires close physical contact it can’t operate.
  2. Your staff should work from home if they can.
  3. Keep contact tracing records of anyone who will have close interaction for example workers and contractors.
  4. All businesses must display a government issued QR code for use with the NZ COVID Tracer App by 19 August.
  5. Customers cannot come onto your premises. Unless you are a supermarket, dairy, petrol station, pharmacy or permitted health service.
  6. Your business must be contactless. Your customers can pay online, over the phone or in a contactless way. Delivery or pick-up must also be contactless.
  7. Basic hygiene measures must be maintained. Physical distancing, hand washing and regularly cleaning surfaces. Workers must stay home if they are sick.
  8. Staff must remain a minimum of 1 metre apart at all times where practical. Other measures, such as PPE including face coverings, should be used where appropriate.
  9. Different advice applies to essential healthcare workers, border agencies, courts and tribunal staff, first responders and corrections staff. Visit for more advice.
  10. You must meet all other health and safety obligations.
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