Covid-19: Top 10 Questions People Ask Healthline, Answered
Questions about the possibility for pregnant people, children or immunocompromised people to be vaccinated against Covid-19 are among the first 10 questions asked of Healthline.
The Covid-19 Vaccination Health Line is a free service for anyone who has questions about the vaccine or needs help booking theirs.
Andrew Slater, chief executive of Whakarongorau Aotearoa, which manages Healthline, said the advice given is in line with the latest guidelines from the Ministry of Health and the Immunization Advisory Center, and is supported by a clinical governance group.
Slater urged people not to sit down on issues preventing them from getting the shot, adding that the service is presented with all kinds of curly questions.
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“Ask us anything. We won’t judge. You can remain anonymous when you call.
Here are the top 10 questions people ask Healthline, answered by clinical director Dr Ruth Large and other experts interviewed by Thing.
Can I book so that my whole family gets vaccinated at once?
Yes, reservations can be made by calling the Covid-19 Vaccination Health Line on 0800 28 29 26. The line is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week and has interpreters in over 40 languages.
Reservations can also be made on the website of the Ministry of Health. Book my vaccine website, who can also help you find a local walk-in vaccination site.
I am pregnant, can I get the vaccine?
Yes, vaccination is encouraged at any stage of pregnancy.
Dr Michelle Wise, senior lecturer in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Auckland, said pregnant people who catch Covid-19 are much more likely to have severe symptoms and require hospitalization and intensive care.
While the main reason for getting the vaccine was to protect the pregnant person, the baby would also benefit by receiving antibodies in the womb and later in breast milk, Wise said.
Additionally, studies have shown that all side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine are the same in pregnant and non-pregnant adults.
“It’s normal not to know whether or not to get the vaccine, much like anything taken during pregnancy,” Wise said.
She encouraged anyone with concerns to see their midwife or doctor.
What are the most common side effects after being vaccinated?
University of Auckland vaccinologist and associate professor Helen Petousis-Harris said the most common side effect was arm pain.
However, that was a good thing, as it showed the body was responding to the vaccine by sending inflammatory cells to the injection site, she said.
“But don’t worry if your arm doesn’t hurt, you don’t have to.”
Other common side effects include fever, body aches, fatigue, and flu-like symptoms, which should go away the next day.
If these symptoms persist a week later, you could be sick with another infection and should see a doctor, said Petousis-Harris.
Allergic reactions to the vaccine are rare and can be treated immediately with adrenaline, she added.
Another serious but rare side effect more commonly seen in young men is myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart, but it can also be treated.
“It’s extremely rare and much more likely to happen if you have [Covid-19]. “
Can I get my children under 12 immunized?
There is currently no Covid-19 vaccine available for children under 12.
Children in this age group who contract Covid-19 usually have mild symptoms, said Petousis-Harris, adding that parents shouldn’t be too worried.
“It is the responsibility of the rest of us to reduce the risk of transmission by getting vaccinated. It is one thing we can do for our children.
A decision on children’s vaccines is expected from the United States Food and Drug Administration by next month, which means they could be available in the United States by Christmas, New Zealand does being not far behind, she said.
Before the Pfizer and Janssen vaccines received interim approval from Medsafe, they underwent extensive testing.
“The trials have just been completed and the data is under review by regulatory agencies.”
I have been fully vaccinated abroad – can I get a booster now that I am in New Zealand?
The third doses of the vaccine are not yet available here.
“If you have received both doses of [the] Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine abroad, then you are considered fully vaccinated, ”Large said.
If you have received the single dose Janssen vaccine, you are also considered to be fully vaccinated. However, anyone who has received the Sinovac vaccine is recommended to have a single dose of Pfizer in New Zealand.
A third dose of the Pfizer vaccine is being considered for people who are immunocompromised, but no official announcement has yet been made.
I received a dose abroad. Can I get Pfizer here now?
The current recommendation is that anyone who has received a dose of the vaccine, including those who are not Pfizer, receive a second dose at least four weeks later, Large said.
Petousis-Harris added: “We want people to be fully vaccinated and if you have received a single dose of anything other than Janssen then you are not fully vaccinated.”
I am taking medication – will the vaccination interfere with this?
There are no drugs that mean you can’t get the shot, Large said, including immunosuppressants.
“Immunosuppressive drugs can affect your body’s ability to develop the same protective response as if you are not on the drug.”
But, it was still better to have the vaccine because those who take immunosuppressants are more likely to get sick if they contract Covid-19.
University of Otago (Wellington) immunologist Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu said people should talk to their doctors if they have any concerns.
She added that the Department of Health advised people taking blood thinners to notify their vaccinator.
“This is because the vaccine is given to the muscle area of the upper arm and could increase the risk of bleeding for some taking this type of medicine.”
I am starting chemo – what should I do to get the vaccine?
According to the Cancer Control Agency (Te Aho o te Kahu), people with cancer have a greater risk of being seriously ill with Covid-19.
Sika-Paotonu said people with cancer should get vaccinated, but the timing should be discussed with their specialist.
“The timing of the Covid-19 vaccination will need to be determined to ensure the best immune response. “
Can I do other vaccinations at the same time as my Covid vaccination?
With the exception of the Zostavax shingles vaccine, all other vaccines can be given at the same time or immediately before or after the Covid-19 vaccine.
Department of Health director of public health Dr Caroline McElnay said in a statement in September that routine vaccinations had been disrupted by the pandemic.
This prompted the Covid-19 Technical Advisory Group to recommend that most routine vaccinations – such as MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), HPV (human papillomavirus) and influenza vaccines – be given in same time as the Covid-19 vaccine.
However, it is recommended that there is a seven-day gap between the Covid-19 vaccine and the shingles vaccine.
“If you are late for routine immunizations or if you are unsure, talk to your healthcare professional,” McElnay said.
Can I get help getting to and from the vaccination center?
People can call the Covid-19 vaccination hotline on 0800 28 29 26 and dial 2 to receive personalized advice regarding mobility assistance, visual language interpretation or to arrange transportation to and from their vaccination, Large said.
Team members who answer calls are either people with disabilities themselves or allies of the disability community, according to the Department of Health website.
There were also 1,737 telephone counselors available to help people with needle anxiety, Large added.