COVID-19: Getting a vaccine

We're expecting enough COVID-19 vaccines for everyone in New Zealand. They’re free and everyone in New Zealand is eligible. Find out how you can get a vaccine.

Last updated: 4 March 2021

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Your vaccine will be free

The COVID-19 vaccination will be free of charge.

Who can get a vaccine

You can get a free vaccine if you’re in New Zealand

Everyone in New Zealand is eligible for free COVID-19 vaccination, regardless of your visa or citizenship status. Any information collected will not be used for immigration purposes.

The Government has secured more than enough COVID-19 vaccines for everyone in New Zealand – over 5 million people. We’re also buying vaccines for those in the Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau, Sāmoa, Tonga and Tuvalu.

It will not be mandatory for the general public. You can choose whether to get vaccinated.

When you'll get a vaccine

The COVID-19 Immunisation Programme is already underway. Over time, everyone in New Zealand will have access to a vaccine if they would like one. Our aim is to vaccinate as many people in New Zealand as possible during the year as part of the programme.

The timings below assume there is low or no community transmission in New Zealand. This may change depending on what’s happening in the community.

Border and managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) workers

Border and managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) workers will be vaccinated first from 20 February 2021. 

This is all workers who undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing as part of their work. These groups include:

  • cleaners
  • nurses who do health checks in MIQ
  • security staff
  • customs and border officials
  • airline staff
  • hotel workers.

It should take 2-3 weeks to vaccinate border workers, followed by the people they live with (household contacts). This is to reduce the risk of them getting COVID-19.

How to get a vaccine – for border and MIQ workers

People living with border and MIQ workers (household contacts)

This includes anyone:

  • who usually lives with you, whether they’re related to you or not
  • who live with you part-time.

It also covers papakāinga and other shared communal living arrangements.

The people you live with (household contacts) will be vaccinated as part of the initial roll-out, after border and MIQ workers have had their first dose.

You will be able to nominate the people you live with (household contacts) and we’ll contact them once vaccinations have started with more information.

Non-border frontline healthcare workers

We expect that between March and June, non-border frontline healthcare workers, like general practitioners, pharmacists and people working in our testing centres, will have access to the vaccines as the next at-risk workforce.

Other at-risk people

We then expect to shift the focus of the immunisation programme over the coming months to include a broader range of at-risk people (such as other health workforces, older adults, and those with a relevant underlying health condition).

The general public

The general public vaccinations are expected to begin in the second half of 2021.

Where vaccinations will be available

To start with, it is likely vaccines will be given to the general public in workplaces and community locations. District health boards (DHBs) will confirm vaccination sites closer to the time.

How vaccines work

Vaccines work by teaching the body’s immune system to respond quickly to infection without being exposed to the infection itself.

Most vaccines work by introducing modified versions, or bits of the virus, to the immune system. This prompts the body's immune system to respond by making protective antibodies. This means when you come across the real infection, your body is prepared to fight it off.

Immunisation and how it works

How COVID-19 vaccines are different

Some of the COVID-19 vaccines, such as the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, use a different approach. These are known as ‘messenger RNA’ vaccines. These vaccines don’t use virus cells at all – instead they contain a piece of RNA code that essentially teaches your body to recognise the virus. It can respond straight away if you get infected.

Each vaccine is slightly different and has its own characteristics. More information on the vaccines will be made available as Medsafe completes its approval processes.

Pfizer and BioNTech (Comirnaty) vaccine

Impact of the vaccine on our borders

At this stage, we can't advise how the availability of vaccines in New Zealand and internationally will influence any changes to our border controls.

If you've been vaccinated and you're coming into New Zealand

It’s too early to confirm if a vaccinated person can still transmit COVID-19. People arriving into New Zealand who’ve had a vaccine still need to complete 14 days in managed isolation and quarantine.

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