Covid-19 vaccines: answers to New Zealand’s most frequently Googled questions

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Photo: RNZ/Vinay Ranchhod

From how many people have been vaccinated to how many different types of Covid vaccines exist, RNZ set out to answer New Zealanders’ most frequently Googled Covid-19 vaccine questions.

It has been 46 days since the latest outbreak was announced, and the country was put in level 4 lockdown.

In those 46 days, 1,648,517 people have received their first Covid-19 vaccination and 1,004,893 have received their second dose.

Google trend data shows searches for Covid-19 and vaccinations jumped during the outbreak, with many asking questions about the vaccine roll-out.

We gathered the latest official data and enlisted the help of experts to answer your most Googled questions in the month of September.

Where to get Covid vaccine?

There are hundreds of places around the country where you can get a Covid-19 vaccination, including doctors’ clinics, pharmacies, marae and pop-up vaccine centres.

You can search for a vaccination site by location or address on the Healthpoint website, or discover one near you via the ministry’s Covid-19 vaccination interactive appointment availability map. The map displays centres based on availability in the next 1-7 days, 8-14 days, 15-28 days and 29 days plus.

Karawhiua – which is aimed at whānau, hapū, iwi, and Māori communities – also has a map displaying Kaupapa Māori centres, Kaupapa Māori ‘vax now’ centres, centres where anyone can access, centres for eligible GP patients and general ‘vax now’ centres. Head to the website and enter your location for the map to display.

The new Covid 19 vaccination facility in South Auckland

People can now get vaccinated at pharmacies, GP clinics, marae and specific vaccination centres, including pop-up sites. Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

How to get a Covid vaccine?

People aged 12 and over can get a free Covid-19 vaccination regardless of visa or citizenship status. People can make bookings and change and cancel appointments via the ministry’s Book My Vaccine website. If you have someone’s permission, you can book on their behalf.

You can also book appointments by calling the Covid Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26. Calls are free and you can ask for an interpreter if you need one.

There are also centres where you can just walk in and get an appointment on the spot.

How many types of Covid vaccines are there?

The following information is provided by Malaghan Institute of Medical Research director and Vaccine Alliance programme director, professor Graham Le Gros.

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Currently there are:

  • Three vaccines approved by Medsafe for use in New Zealand: Pfizer, Janssen and AstraZeneca
  • Three vaccines approved by FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) for use in the USA: Pfizer, Janssen and Moderna
  • Six vaccines approved for use by the World Health Organisation (WHO): Pfizer, Moderna, Janssen, AstraZeneca, Sinopharm and Sinovac
  • The Sputnik vaccine is approved for use in 67 countries but not by the FDA

Pharmac says New Zealand’s Covid-19 portfolio closely aligns with those of leading countries, as seen in this graphic below.

How many people have been vaccinated in New Zealand?

A total of 3,308,253 people have had their first dose and 1,960,807 are fully vaccinated.

As at 11.59pm 1 October, 79 percent of the eligible population had received their first dose and 47 percent had received two doses.

This graph shows how the vaccinations given so far compared against the production plan and stock received

This graph shows how the vaccinations given so far compared against the production plan and stock received Photo: Ministry of Health

How to make vaccine bump go down?

Pain or swelling at the injection site is a common side effect of the Covid-19 Pfizer vaccine.

Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners suggests placing a cool, wet compress or ice pack on the injection site to help the bump go down.

It also recommends people seek medical advice from their GP or call Healthline if they have any concerns or feel unwell after their vaccination.

How many vaccinations are booked in New Zealand?

As at 30 September, there were 102,354 first dose vaccinations booked and 1,067,622 second doses booked – a total of 1,169,976.

Covid 19 vaccine Pfizer – how long does it last?

Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand programme director Graham Le Gros provided the following answer to this question: “Overall protective immunity is estimated to last at least a year in healthy people against the Delta variant. We will not know how much longer until the years have passed.”

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Ministry of Health says the second dose increases protection, “giving you better and likely longer-lasting immunity than the first dose alone”.

The ministry says it is “evaluating preliminary data from other countries about the impact new strains may have on vaccine effectiveness”, while the World Health Organisation says it’s crucial there is a coordinated approach to survey and evaluate the variants “and their potential impact on vaccine effectiveness”.

A photo shows Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine bottles at the Emile Muller hospital in Mulhouse, eastern France, on January 8, 2021.

The government has purchased enough vaccines for everyone in New Zealand as well as those in Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau, Sāmoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu Photo: AFP

How much does the Pfizer vaccine cost the government

Cabinet has set aside $983.7 million to secure access to vaccines.

It has agreements with four suppliers and enough vaccines have been secured for everyone in New Zealand as well as those in Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau, Sāmoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu.

The ministry won’t say how much each individual vaccine costs.

“Due to commercial sensitivity, international freight disruption, and logistical challenges of the Covid-19 vaccine, the ministry cannot provide further details on the individual cost of each vaccine.”

The vaccine is free for anyone in New Zealand to receive.

Are they doing walk-in vaccines in Auckland?

Yes, there are walk-in clinics across the country, including Auckland. A list of walk-in centres in Auckland can be found on the ministry’s Covid-19 website, as well as links to Healthpoint and Karawhiua where you can find more vaccination centres.

How safe is Covid vaccine Pfizer?

Medsafe says it focuses on safety, efficacy and quality when assessing vaccines and will only recommend it is approved if it meets these standards. It continues to monitor the safety and efficacy of the vaccine as it is used.

The Pfizer vaccine was provisionally approved, with conditions, meaning it “has been formally approved after a thorough assessment, but Pfizer must give Medsafe ongoing data and reporting to show that it meets international standards,” according to the ministry’s Covid-19 website.

The ministry says there are no additional safety concerns for pregnant people nor those breastfeeding.

Vaccine health advice for specific situations, including underlying health conditions can be found here.

The ministry says the vaccine may cause side effects in some people – most are mild and do not last long.

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The Covid-19 Vaccine Independent Safety Monitoring Board believes one woman’s death may have been caused by myocarditis, a rare side effect of the Pfizer vaccine. Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand director Graham Le Gros stresses the woman had a pre-existing condition and says it is not clear her death is linked to the vaccine. The Coroner is investigating and the cause of death is yet to be determined.

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