COVID-19 and Flu Vaccinations

Click here for advice regarding what to do if you test positive for Covid-19 and a list of places to collect free RAT tests and free masks.

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COVID-19 Update

The SARS-CoV-2 virus, the cause of Covid-19, is now well-established globally and will continue to evolve to evade immunity.  It remains notifiable and you can report a case at: or by calling the Takatu Hub (0800 825288) Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm.  The testing advice was changed recently, and household contacts do not need to test, unless they have symptoms.

The new XBB vaccine is better matched to the versions currently circulating, including JN.1 that is now dominant in NZ and much of the world. Initial data shows at least 50% additional protection from a dose of XBB vaccine, in studies from US, Canada, Netherlands and Denmark. This halving (or more) of risk is especially important for those at increased risk of severe disease:

  • age 65 years and over
  • medical conditions (especially diabetes, heart disease/BP, and immune suppressed)
  • obesity

Eligibility for the new vaccine is wide, but does require a 6-month gap since the last dose of COVID-19 vaccine or infection. All aged 30 years and over are eligible; those aged 12 to 29 years if they are at an increased risk from their medical condition or if pregnant.

The vaccine in pregnancy protects the mother, the baby in the womb, and the infant in their first months.

Safety: The vaccine often causes reactions at the injection site and from the immune responses. In most cases these are minor, but for up to five percent, the reaction can be severe enough to interfere with daily activities for a day or so. A recently published study of 99 million doses found only one other possible vaccine reaction from RNA vaccines, in addition to confirming the link with myocarditis/pericarditis.

Availability: Covid vaccines are available free of charge from the following local pharmacies (bookings necessary):

  • Bramwells Unichem Pharmacy, 232 Gladstone Road
  • Horouta Pharmacy, 92 De Lautour Road
  • Pharmacy 53, Ballance Street Village
  • Sean Shivnan Pharmacy, 578 Gladstone Road (walk-in welcome in the morning).

City Medical and Puhi Kaiti Medical Centre offer Covid vaccines to their enrolled patients.

Flu Vaccinations: 

The flu vaccine will be available in April.

It is free for people at higher risk of getting very sick from the flu including: 

  • people aged 65 years and over  
  • Māori and Pacific people aged 55 years and over  
  • pregnant people 
  • people who have a long-term medical condition like diabetes, asthma, or a heart condition (ages 6 months+) 
  • children aged 6 months to 12 years
  • people with mental health and addiction issues

The pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine is also offered in pregnancy to protect mothers and young infants.


Misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccine

If you become aware of any campaigns or information targeting New Zealanders asking for personal information or payment for receiving the vaccine, please report this misinformation to (Subject: COVID-19 scam) or call 0800 237 869.


  • The COVID-19 vaccine is free, and at no point will you be asked to pay for securing your place in the queue.
  • Any communications about the vaccine will come from the Ministry of Health or other trusted sources. If you receive any emails out of the blue asking for financial and personal details, it is likely a scam.
  • The best way you can help stop these scams affecting New Zealanders is to report them to CERT NZ. You can also do this via the CERT NZ website: or by calling 0800 2378 69


Questions about the vaccine?

For a list of frequently asked questions about the vaccine, visit the Immunisation Advisory Centre website.

You can also find questions and answers in this COVID-19 Vaccination Information Booklet, which is specific to Tairāwhiti and has been approved by the Ministry of Health.

You can find more about how the vaccine works, its safety and development, advice if you're pregnant and what to think about if you're getting other vaccines around the same time.

More information

If you're looking for more information about COVID-19 vaccinations, here are some official sources that are a good place to start:


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