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Covid-19 vaccination and boosters

Covid-19 vaccination and boosters are important for eligible New Zealanders, especially those with a heart condition who are more at risk of becoming seriously unwell. Find out the latest about Covid-19 vaccine boosters.

A happy, smiling senior man with a plaster on his upper arm indicating an injection site

In this article

Covid-19 vaccination

Getting a Covid-19 vaccination means you’re less likely to get seriously ill and need hospital treatment if you catch Covid-19. This risk is greater for people with a heart condition.

Clinical trials have found that the Pfizer vaccine gave 95% protection against the symptoms of Covid-19.

Many New Zealanders have had the primary Covid-19 vaccine course (two doses for most people). This provides some protection against Omicron, but a booster is likely to offer even greater protection.

For further details about the primary Covid-19 course, see the Manatū Hauora Ministry of Health website and the Unite Against Covid-19 website.

Why have a Covid-19 booster?

Your protection from the primary Covid-19 vaccine course (two doses for most people) decreases over time. 

Getting a Covid-19 booster keeps your immunity levels high and provides an extra layer of protection for you and your whānau. This reduces your chances of getting very sick and ending up in hospital if you catch Covid-19. It also reduces the risk of transmitting Covid-19 to others. 

Even if you’ve had the Covid-19 virus, it doesn’t provide the same level of immunity as getting a booster. 

People with a heart condition are more at risk of becoming seriously unwell if they get Covid-19, so being vaccinated and staying up to date with boosters is important. 

Who is eligible for Covid-19 boosters?

If you’ve had your first two Covid-19 vaccinations, you can get a booster if you are: 

  • aged 30 and over 
  • pregnant, and aged 16 or over  
  • aged 12 to 29 and at higher risk of severe illness from Covid-19. 

This is regardless of how many boosters you’ve had.  

People aged 16–29 who aren’t at higher risk can get one booster but aren’t eligible for further boosters. 

Boosters are especially recommended for: 

  • people over age 65  
  • Māori and Pacific people aged 50 and over 
  • pregnant people with health conditions at higher risk of severe illness from Covid-19 (check with your nurse or doctor if this applies to you) 
  • people with disability with significant or complex health needs  
  • people with serious mental health conditions   
  • young people aged 12 to 15 with a medical condition that puts them at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 (talk with your doctor about whether this is recommended and how to get a prescription). 

If you are eligible for a booster, it is recommended you wait at least six months since your last Covid-19 vaccination or since having a Covid-19 infection. 

For further details on booster eligibility, see the Manatū Hauora Ministry of Health website and the Unite Against Covid-19 website

How can I get a Covid-19 booster or find more information?

Appointments can be made at Book My Vaccine or by visiting a walk-in clinic.

More detailed information is available on the Manatū Hauora Ministry of Health website and the Unite Against Covid-19 website

Should I get a booster if I’ve had the Covid-19 virus?

Even if you’ve had the Covid-19 virus it’s still important to get a Covid-19 booster. Getting a booster keeps your immunity high and lowers your chances of getting very sick from Covid-19. 

It is recommended you wait six months after testing positive for Covid-19 before getting a booster.

Can I get the flu vaccine and the Covid-19 booster?

An annual flu vaccination is particularly important for people with heart conditions. 

The Covid-19 vaccination won’t protect you from the flu, so if you’ve got a heart condition or you’re in another high-risk group, it’s important to get your annual flu vaccination as well.  

You can have a flu vaccine and a Covid-19 booster at the same appointment, as two separate injections. You can also choose to have them at separate times.

Is the Covid-19 booster safe if I have a heart condition?

The Covid-19 booster is safe for the large majority of people with heart conditions. In fact, for most people with heart conditions, your heart is at greater risk from the Covid-19 virus than it is from getting the booster.  

If you’ve had a recent case of heart inflammation (myocarditis, pericarditis or both), you’ll need to talk to your doctor about whether a Covid-19 vaccination or booster is safe for you.

Is the Covid-19 booster safe if I’m on heart medication?

Yes. You can get your booster and continue to take your heart medication as usual. Let your vaccinator know if you’re on blood-thinning medication. You may experience a little more bruising at the injection site, so it’s a good idea to press for a little longer on the site after your injection.

Who shouldn’t get a Covid-19 booster?

If you’ve had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) after any other vaccination, talk to your doctor before getting a Covid-19 vaccination or booster.

If you’ve had myocarditis or pericarditis following a Covid-19 vaccine, talk to your doctor before getting a booster. 

If you’ve recently had the Covid-19 virus, it’s recommended you wait at least six months before getting a booster.

Side effects of Covid-19 boosters

You may experience side effects from a Covid-19 booster, similar to those from the primary Covid-19 vaccinations. 

These are mostly mild side effects – such as pain or swelling at the injection site, muscle aches, headache, nausea or fatigue – and don’t last long. 

Rarely, the Covid-19 vaccine or booster can cause more serious side-effects. These include: 

  • serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) 
  • Bell’s palsy 
  • inflammation of the heart (myocarditis and pericarditis).  

For more detailed information, see the Manatū Hauora Ministry of Health website on COVID-19: Vaccine side effects and reactions.

Myocarditis, pericarditis and Covid-19 vaccines

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle. Pericarditis is inflammation of the tissue forming a sac around the heart.  

These conditions are often caused by viral infections including Covid-19, but they are also very rare and serious side effects of some Covid-19 vaccines. (This is more commonly seen in males under 30 years of age after the second dose of the vaccine). 

You are much more likely to get myocarditis or pericarditis from catching the Covid-19 virus than you are from having the vaccine. 

Talk to your doctor or nurse if you’ve had a previous case of myocarditis or pericarditis or if you’re unsure about whether the vaccine and booster is right for you. 

Find out more about myocarditis and pericarditis on our heart condition pages.

Learn about myocarditis

Learn about pericarditis

Covid-19 vaccine and booster safety

The Covid-19 vaccine and booster dose are assessed for safety by Medsafe, the organisation that monitors medication safety in New Zealand. 

Medsafe only grants approval once it is satisfied the international evidence shows benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. Medsafe also continues to monitor the safety of the Covid-19 vaccine and booster.

Which Covid-19 booster is used in New Zealand?

The Pfizer BA.4/5 bivalent vaccine is used for booster doses from 1 April 2023. This updated Covid-19 vaccine is more effective against Omicron subvariants. 

Current evidence indicates the bivalent booster is more effective against Omicron subvariants than earlier vaccines. The bivalent booster produces an immune response against the original virus and Omicron variants. 

If you prefer not to have the bivalent booster, you can request the original Pfizer vaccine when you go to have your booster.

More questions about the Covid-19 booster and your heart?

The Heart Foundation has a nurse-run free phone line for advice about heart conditions and can give information on Covid-19 and the heart.  

The Heart Helpline is available on 0800 863 375 Monday to Friday 9.00am to 3.00pm.  

Alternatively, you can email We will respond to you within five working days.