We can be proud of what we have done to protect each other from COVID-19. Let’s not waste our hard mahi. We still need to protect our whānau and communities from the virus and its variants (i.e., Delta and Omicron). COVID-19 vaccines are FREE for anyone aged five years and older. There is no appointment fee either. If you have any further questions about COVID-19 vaccines, please contact your GP (family doctor), practice nurse or phone the free helpline on 0800 TP MOBILE (876 624). Your questions answered How does COVID-19 vaccine help protect us? Getting vaccinated is a way to look after our whānau and community. It protects us by stopping the spread of the virus. If most of us are vaccinated, we can also reduce the risk of outbreaks which can lead to lockdowns and put our health system under pressure. When we get vaccinated, we can better protect those in our community who can’t get vaccinated, such as pēpi under age five and people with certain medical conditions. The COVID-19 vaccine teaches the immune system to recognise and fight the virus. It can’t give you the disease because it does not contain the virus in any form or anything that can affect our DNA. The vaccine is gone completely from your body within a few days, leaving your immune system ready for action if COVID-19 comes near you. How do we know it is safe for our whānau? In Aotearoa, vaccines are assessed by New Zealand’s Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority (Medsafe). Medsafe is part of the Ministry of Health. Medsafe will only approve a vaccine for use in Aotearoa once it is confident it meets national and international standards for safety, effectiveness, and quality. Medsafe is satisfied that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are safe and effective to give to us. Please note that Te Puawaitanga ki Ōtautahi Trust provides the Pfizer vaccine only. Choosing to be vaccinated It’s your choice to get vaccinated. Getting two doses of the vaccine and then your booster shot (if you are 18 or older) will give you and your whānau the best protection. Vaccination is especially important to safeguard our kuia and kaumātua, hapū māmā and others who are more likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19. It will also help protect pēpi and people with certain medical conditions who cannot be vaccinated. What to expect when you get the vaccine You will be asked to provide your details and to give consent A fully trained vaccinator will give you the vaccine in your upper arm You will need to stay for 15 minutes after being vaccinated so that the nurses know you are okay Some mild side effects are common and are a sign your body is learning to fight the virus Another appointment might be booked for you (e.g., for your booster shot). Are there any side effects from the vaccine? All vaccines can have some side effects. These side effects are usually mild and only last for a few days. Common side effects can include: Pain at the injection site A headache Feeling tired or fatigued Muscle aches Feeling generally unwell Chills Fever Joint pain These are signs that the vaccine is working. Globally, millions of people have already received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, with an extremely small number of serious reactions. If you have any questions or worries after your vaccinations, contact your doctor or health provider. When should I talk to a doctor or nurse before getting my vaccine? For some of our whānau, it’s best to check-in with your health provider before getting the vaccine, especially if you: Are taking any medications Have a bleeding disorder Had an allergic reaction to any vaccine or injection in the past. Also let your vaccinator know this before you get the vaccine. Protection for our hapū māmā or while breastfeeding You can get the Pfizer vaccine at any stage of your pregnancy. The vaccine protects you as you are far less likely to fall seriously ill if you catch COVID-19. The vaccine can also protect your pēpi, as evidence shows that pēpi can get antibodies (that fight the virus when you are exposed to it) through the whenua (placenta). We recommend that you protect yourself against COVID-19 when you are hapū because you are more likely to become very unwell and need hospitalisation if you catch COVID-19. There is no evidence that the vaccine is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage during pregnancy. No additional safety concerns have been raised. The Pfizer vaccine does not contain a live virus or any ingredients that are harmful to pregnant people or their babies. If you have any questions about COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy or breastfeeding, speak to your midwife or doctor.