Covid-19 vaccine update: May 2021

As of 11 May 2021, 120,000 New Zealanders have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 (which is about 2.4% of the total population), while more than 250,000 people have had their first does of the vaccine. Those vaccinated so far include New Zealand’s border and MIQ workers, as well as people living in high-risk settings. Vaccines have also started being administered in aged care facilities around the country.

Who is next in line to receive vaccinations?

May 2021 marks the beginning of third phase of the vaccine rollout. This means if you’re aged 65 or older, have relevant underlying health conditions or are disabled, you can expect to receive your vaccine from this month. Underlying health conditions so far include:

  • serious and chronic respiratory conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • chronic kidney/renal disease
  • diabetes
  • coronary heart conditions
  • stroke
  • hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • cancer, excluding basal and squamous skin cancers if not invasive.

It is important to remember that receiving the vaccine is your choice. No one, including a health professional, family member or friend, can force you to be vaccinated. Search out unbiased and accredited resources to help you make an informed choice.

What should I expect when it’s my turn?
When it’s your turn, you’ll be contacted by your local District Health Board (DHB), inviting you to get the jab. Details on how to book your appointment will be released at that time.

The Ministry of Health is expecting the majority of invitations to be sent out to people in this group at the end of the month, although some people may already have received an invitation. There are approximately 1.7 million people in this group, so it will take some time to get all invitations sent out – so don’t worry of you don’t receive yours straight away.

The process for booking a vaccine appointment differs around the country. Some DHBs have set up online booking portals, while others are sending invitations vis post, for example. Either way, your DHB will be in touch with you to explain how the process in your region will work.

Where will vaccinations happen?

There will be a variety of facilities around the country to ensure it is easy and convenient for every New Zealander to receive their vaccine. You may get it at your home, place of residence or workplace (if you live or work in a long-term residential care facility, for example) or at your GPs office. There will also be community clinics and pop-up centres around your area, as well as mobile clinics operating around the country.

I’m due to receive a flu vaccine too – can I have the Covid-19 and flu vaccines together?
It’s important to understand that you need two weeks between getting the flu jab and getting your Covid vaccine. Having a gap between different types of vaccinations helps authorities be sure about any side effects that may occur.

This means:

  • If you already have an appointment for your Covid-19 vaccination, get this first. You can have your flu immunisation two weeks or more after your second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
  • If you don’t have an appointment booked for your Covid-19 vaccination, you can get your influenza immunisation first.

Is the vaccine safe?

Clinical trials of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine (the vaccine that is being rolled out throughout the country) show that is has been up to 95% effective. Everyone responds differently to medicines, however, which means no vaccine is ever 100 percent safe. Some people may experience mild side effects, such as redness around the injection site, a headache, dizziness, or sore muscles for a few days – this is evidence that the vaccine has started activating the immune system. In very rare cases, some people may experience more severe reactions.

There is a lot of dangerous and unsubstantiated misinformation being circulated regarding the risks of vaccinations. Importantly, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine cannot give you COVID-19 and there is no possibility it could affect your DNA/genes. Rigorous scientific research has found no link between vaccines and any long-term severe health problems. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine does not contain animal products, so it is safe for people with allergies to egg-based vaccines.

If you have any underlying health issues or concerns, ensure you get advice from a medical professional before being vaccinated. For more information about vaccine safety, visit or

Photo credit: Ivan Diaz on Unsplash

About Mason Head

Content Creator and Publication Lead at Eldernet