The New Zealand Government has a plan to provide a free COVID-19 vaccine to protect everyone in New Zealand. People at greater risk are being offered the vaccine first.

In the Nelson Marlborough region we started offering vaccinations on 1 March 2021, to Group 1 members (border workers at our ports and frontline healthcare workers).

On 17 March we started to offer vaccination to Group 2 members, including: health and disability workers, aged care facility residents and kaumatua and older Pasifika people who are cared for at home.

In April, we are completing vaccination for Group 1 members and continuing to vaccinate Group 2 members. Vaccines are offered by appointment and when spaces come up, we offer them first to Group 2 members so that the vaccine doesn't expire and is wasted. People can't always come to an appointment at short notice however, so in April we also started to offer vaccines to Group 3 members who are aged 65 years and older.

As at 20 April more than 10,000 vaccines had been provided. The Ministry of Health also reports vaccine data on its website here.

From May, we plan to start offering vaccination more widely to all Group 3 members as well as continue to vaccinate Group 2.

Group 4 vaccination is due to start in July.

Click here to use this simple tool to find out when you can get a COVID-19 vaccine. Your result will tell you which group you’re probably in — Group 1, 2, 3, or 4 — depending on your age and situation. 

Applying for an early vaccine

If you need to travel outside of New Zealand, you can apply for an early COVID-19 vaccine on compassionate grounds or for reasons of national significance. Find out more about the criteria you will need to meet and how to apply.

Volumes and timing of vaccination rollout

When COVID-19 vaccinations become available for your group in the Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough region, there will be communications and advertising campaigns to inform you about this. This webpage will also be updated with information about vaccination opportunities as they are finalised.

Group 1 — Now onwards
Border and managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) workers. Learn more about Group 1.

Group 2 —  March
High-risk frontline workers and people living in high-risk places. Learn more about Group 2.

Group 3 — from May
People who are at risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. Learn more about Group 3.

Group 4 — from July
Everyone (aged 16 years or over). Learn more about Group 4.

The image below illustrates the volumes and timings of the vaccination rollout. You can click on the image for a larger PDF printable version.

Illustration of volumes and timing of vaccine rollout

There’s never been this level of global collaboration amongst scientists and governments in vaccine development.

In this video, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield explains how the COVID-19 vaccines, including the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine being offered to New Zealanders, were developed so quickly compared to other vaccines.

You can read more about why COVID-19 vaccines were developed so quickly and how COVID-19 vaccines are being tested and assessed.

COVID-19 vaccines used in New Zealand must comply with international and local standards for quality, safety and effectiveness. 

How COVID-19 vaccines are approved

In New Zealand, applications for all new medicines (including vaccines) are assessed by the New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority (Medsafe). Medsafe is responsible for regulating all medicines and medical devices in New Zealand. They are part of the Ministry of Health.

Read more about who decides if a vaccine can be used and what happens when long-term research is not available.

Pfizer/BioNTech (Comirnaty) vaccine 

The Pfizer/BioNTech (Comirnaty) vaccine has been approved to use in New Zealand for people 16 years and older. It is an mRNA-based (messenger ribonucleic acid) vaccine, and is given in 2 doses about 3 weeks apart.

Learn more about who can have the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and what it contains.

Side effects of COVID-19 vaccines

Like all medicines, COVID-19 vaccines may cause side effects in some people. This is the body’s normal response and shows the vaccine is working.

The most common reported reactions of the Pfizer/BioNTech (Comirnaty) vaccine are:

  • pain at the injection site
  • a headache
  • feeling tired or fatigued
  • muscle aches
  • feeling generally unwell
  • chills
  • fever
  • joint pain
  • nausea.

These are usually mild and won't stop you from having the second dose or going about your daily life.

Find out about side effects and what to do if you experience them.

Safety monitoring of COVID-19 vaccines and reporting of side effects

The safety of all medicines approved for use in New Zealand is checked by the New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority (Medsafe). Medsafe will continually review any COVID-19 vaccines being used and take appropriate action if any risks are identified.

Read more about how vaccine safety is monitor and how side effects are reported.