COVID-19: Vaccine health advice

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

Last updated: 30 November 2021

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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:

are getting tested for COVID-19, or have had COVID-19

If you’re waiting for a COVID-19 test result, you should wait until you get a negative result or have met the criteria to stop isolating before you get vaccinated.

Self-isolation, managed isolation or quarantine

If you’ve had COVID-19

You should have the COVID-19 vaccine even if you’ve had COVID-19 (with or without symptoms). We recommend you wait at least 4 weeks after you recover before getting the vaccine.

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 exception to this is the Zostavax (shingles) vaccine where a 7-day gap before or after receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 is advised.

are immunocompromised

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

You can get the Pfizer vaccine (Comirnaty) when receiving medication or therapy that affects your immune system (immunosuppression). As with all vaccines, you may not respond as strongly as someone with a fully functioning immune system, but it can protect you from becoming very unwell if you get COVID-19.

The best time to be vaccinated is before any planned immunosuppression, but do not delay any treatment.

If you’re severely immunocompromised, discuss the timing of your vaccination with your doctor or specialist. The vaccine can be given at any stage of treatment. You may be able to time your vaccination appointments between rounds of treatment for the best immune response.

To help protect yourself, encourage your family and the people you live with to also get vaccinated.

If you are severely immunocompromised, you may qualify for a third primary dose of the Pfizer vaccine. You should discuss this with your GP or specialist.

Advice for 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

Which vaccine you’ll be given

Pfizer/BioNTech is New Zealand’s primary vaccine provider.

So far, only the Pfizer/BioNTech, Janssen and AstraZeneca vaccines have been provisionally approved by Medsafe, however, the Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine that Cabinet has approved for our rollout in New Zealand. You can’t choose what type of COVID-19 vaccine you’ll get.

Your vaccine is given by trained, authorised vaccinators or qualified medical staff.

How the vaccine works

Vaccine safety

A consistently high efficacy (between 90 and 100 percent) was observed in the clinical trials across age groups, sex, race, ethnicity and people with underlying medical conditions.

This means after getting two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, more than 9 out of 10 people are protected against COVID-19 regardless of their age, health status or ethnic group.

Vaccine effectiveness and protection
Side effects and reactions
Safety and approval

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