News & Events
Be a Guardian of the Future: Get a free measles immunisation
With Aotearoa’s international borders now open, ensuring our communities are protected from measles as much as possible has become important for public health, general practice teams and community pharmacies in New Zealand.
“Measles is more than eight times more infectious than COVID-19. It can make you very sick and affect your health for the rest of your life,” says Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Ramon Pink.
More than 2,000 Kiwis got sick from measles in 2019 and more than 700 needed hospital treatment.
“The measles outbreak in 2019 and the current COVID-19 pandemic have shown the impact infectious diseases can have when we are not immune,” says Dr Pink.
“Now is the time to catch up on the vaccinations we have easy access to – such as MMR – to protect our community and whānau in the future.”
Check if you or your whānau are immunised against measles
It’s really important we all check if our pēpi, tamariki and rangatahi (young people between 17 and 32 years old) need to get their MMR vaccination.
Ideally all pēpi should get their two doses of the MMR vaccine when they are 12 and 15 months old. Talk to your GP today if they haven’t. Now is the time to immunise!
Contact your general practice team if you have rangatahi in your whānau who aren’t sure if they had their MMR vaccination when they were young. The staff can help you to confirm if your young people need to get their two doses. Rangatahi can get their free MMR vaccination at their local general practice team or pharmacy.
If you’re still not sure, get your MMR vaccination anyway. It’s safe to get your two doses again.
The MMR vaccination is safe, free and you can have it at the same time as your flu jab or COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot.
If you have recently had COVID-19, you can get your MMR vaccination as soon as you have recovered or as advised by your health professional.
Protect yourself and others against this highly infectious disease
“Measles is more than eight times more infectious than COVID-19. It can make you very sick and affect your health for the rest of your life. Getting a catch-up dose now will make sure you and those around you are protected in the future,” says Dr Pink.
About ninety-five percent of people will be protected by just one dose of MMR. Two doses ensures more than 99 percent of people are protected. The vaccine also protects against mumps and rubella. It is safe to have an MMR even if you are unsure if you have been fully immunised.
“We’re urging everyone aged 15 to 30 years old to get at least one MMR vaccination to help prevent future outbreaks of measles,” says Dr Pink. “Ask your doctor, parents or caregiver if you had two doses of MMR as a kid. If you didn’t or aren’t sure, it’s a good idea to get one MMR dose now.”
Get your for your free measles catch up jab at your local General Practice team in Canterbury and the West Coast. You can also get an MMR catch up from some pharmacies if you are over 16.
MMR is also part of the childhood immunisation schedule. Anyone born after 1969 is still eligible for two free MMR doses.
Source: Canterbury DHB CEO Update (28th September 2020) and West Coast DHB media release (13th October 2020).
Contact your medical practice first in winter
You are encouraged to contact your general practice (GP) team first to discuss options before turning up – if you need health advice or care with winter on our doorstep.
“Your general practice or healthcare provider should be your first port of call if your health issue is not an emergency. Please plan ahead as much as possible for your routine health care, and book early. Your usual medical practice will offer some urgent appointments when required,” says West Coast DHB’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Graham Roper.
Winter is a really busy time for the health system, with increased rates of illness and greater demand on hospital services. High numbers of people are already being admitted to hospital for on-going care across Canterbury, South Canterbury and the West Coast. This is adding pressure on hospital services and impacting on how much planned surgery and other procedures care they can provide.
“You will likely experience a long wait if you go to the Emergency Department (ED) or an urgent care clinic for a non-emergency condition – particularly over weekends. This is because the staff need to triage everyone to ensure those with life-threatening conditions are seen first,” says Canterbury DHB’s Senior Responsible Officer for Winter Planning Becky Hickmott.
It would be very helpful if people use other available care options or manage minor ailments at home if they don’t have serious emergency needs, says Canterbury DHB’s ED Clinical Director Dr Mark Gilbert.
Call your general practice team to discuss your situation and symptoms if you feel unwell – rather than visiting in person. This means that you can get appropriate treatment and medication to help you stay well – even if you are at home isolating.
You can phone your GP team any time day or night if you need urgent medical attention. A team of nurses is available to answer your call. The nurses provide free health advice, and they can tell you what to do and the best place to go if you need to be seen urgently by a doctor.
Always call 111 for an ambulance if you or someone else needs life-saving emergency medical attention.
You can also call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for free health advice 24/7.
What to do if you have COVID-19, influenza or other respiratory illnesses
Please stay home until you are symptom-free. Pharmacies have lots of products to help treat your symptoms including lozenges, cough mixture, nasal sprays, and rehydration products.
Call for help or advice if you are unwell with a respiratory illness and are:
- Having severe trouble breathing or chest pain;
- Feeling very confused or not thinking clearly; or
- Feeling faint or pass out (lose consciousness).
Call the COVID Healthline 24/7 on 0800 358 5453 or your own family doctor if:
- You have more trouble breathing than usual.
Can you finish a sentence when speaking? Can you get up and go to the bathroom or make a drink without running out of breath?
- Your symptoms are getting worse.
- You start getting better, then get worse.
- You have symptoms of severe dehydration such as having a very dry mouth and passing only a little urine (pee/mimi).
- Feeling very light-headed.
- Persistent fever and/or chills that you can’t manage at home.
- Persistent vomiting or diarrhoea which goes on for more than 24 hours.
Source: Canterbury District Health Board media release (30th May 2022), West Coast District Health Board media release (31st May 2022) and South Canterbury DHB website.
Influenza: Don’t get it, don’t give it
Influenza can be anywhere, and is a highly contagious virus with many different strains. Around one in four New Zealanders are infected with influenza or ‘flu’ each year.
There may be higher rates of influenza in New Zealand this winter with our borders reopening.
Immunisation is the best protection against influenza. Your flu symptoms are less likely to be severe even if you still catch influenza after immunisation.
Get immunised to stop the spread of influenza around your community. You could still be infected with flu even if you don’t feel sick, and pass it on to others. Reduce the spread of flu if you are sick by:
- staying away from others including crowded places or events;
- regular washing your hands often for at least 20 seconds and drying them for 20 seconds or using hand sanitiser; and
- covering your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing – into a tissue, clothing or the inside of your elbow. Remember to put tissues in a lined bin.
Having an influenza immunisation every year can keep older people healthy and active for longer. Older people and those with certain medical conditions are also more likely to be affected by the flu. This is because influenza can make an existing medical condition worse (including asthma and diabetes), or increase the risk of complications such as pneumonia or heart failure.
Having the influenza immunisation during pregnancy helps protect the mother and her baby against influenza.
Stay at home from work, school or preschool if you have the flu so that you don’t spread it to others. Even a mild case of influenza can disrupt your everyday activities with family, friends, community and work.
Influenza is more than just a ‘bad cold’ – it is a serious illness that can put anyone in hospital or even kill them, including young and healthy people. Symptoms may vary with age, immune status and health of the individual and include fever, sore throat, muscle aches, headache, cough, fatigue and generally feeling miserable. The fever and body aches can last for up to 5 days, and the cough and fatigue may last for two or more weeks.
Influenza vaccination is FREE for those who need it most
Updated 27th June 2022
Getting immunised each year as early as possible before winter hits gives the best protection. This protection can last until next year.
You need to get the flu vaccine each year as protection from the previous vaccination lessens over time, and the flu strains in the vaccine usually change each year. Over a million New Zealanders get the annual immunisation against influenza.
The influenza vaccine is safe, effective and cannot give you “the flu”. The inﬂuenza vaccination will not protect you against COVID-19 and does not increase the risk of being infected with COVID-19 or any other respiratory virus.
You can get your flu vaccine at the same time as your COVID-19 vaccine or booster dose. There is no need to leave a gap between these jabs. just as long as you are feeling well on the day of your flu vaccination.
Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ramon Pink says that people who have been vaccinated against flu and double vaccinated or boosted against COVID-19 are at significantly lower risk of becoming seriously ill.
“We know that people might feel they’ve had a lot of vaccinations lately but please get the flu vaccination as it provides the best protection against influenza, especially if you’re one of the people at greater risk of serious illness if you get the flu,” says Dr Pink.
Flu vaccinations are available from your general practice team and many pharmacies. Please call your general practice team, local pharmacy or healthcare provider first to check availability and book an appointment, as some have reduced staffing due to the Omicron outbreak.
A FREE flu vaccine is now available to anyone in the following eligible groups:
- Pregnant women – at any stage or trimester in the pregnancy.
- People aged 65 years and older.
- Māori and Pacific peoples aged 55 to 64 years.
- Children aged 4 years and under who have been hospitalised for asthma or other breathing problems or have a history of significant respiratory illness.
- People under 65 years with medical conditions such as asthma and other chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes, most heart or lung conditions and cancers.
The Government is widening access to free flu vaccines. From Friday 1st July 2022, a free flu vaccine will also be available to:
- Children aged 3 to 12 years; and
- People with a serious mental health or addiction needs, such as those with schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder or anyone currently accessing secondary or tertiary mental health and addiction services.
“Even if you aren’t eligible for a free flu vaccination, it’s definitely worthwhile getting if it means that you will avoid having a miserable time with flu. It could also prevent sickness spreading to whānau and friends, and possibly having to take time off work,” says West Coast Medical Officer of Health Dr Cheryl Brunton. The cost for a flu vaccine is typically just $35 to $60.
Common responses to the influenza vaccine may last a day or so and include:
- Pain, redness or swelling at the site of the injection;
- Muscle ache;
- Fatigue; and
- Fever, irritability and loss of appetite in children.
Information on COVID-19 vaccination
Updated: 7th April 2022
The COVID-19 vaccine is FREE for everyone and no one will miss out. Having the vaccine is not be mandatory for Kiwis. Our Government has secured enough vaccine so everyone aged 12 and over can be vaccinated if they choose to. The best way to protect yourself, your kaumātua and whānau is to get vaccinated.
Talk with your family doctor or other health professional if you have concerns about having the COVID-19 vaccine.
You can also call the COVID Vaccination Healthline to talk to a trained advisor (0800 28 29 26 – from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week).
- Read or download resources on the COVID-19 vaccine – available in numerous languages and for those with learning difficulties (Ministry of Health).
- Find out about recent research on New Zealanders’ acceptance to get the COVID-19 vaccine (Ministry of Health).
Three COVID-19 vaccines are currently available
Pfizer is the main COVID-19 vaccine being given in New Zealand.
You can get the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at a limited number of sites across the country. Doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are for people aged over 18 years who can’t have the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for medical reasons, and for people who want an alternative to the Pfizer vaccine.
The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is also available at a limited number of sites across the country. You can now book an appointment through Book My Vaccine or by calling the COVID Vaccination Healthline (0800 28 29 26). This new vaccine is suitable for adults 18 years and over and requires two doses with a three week gap. The Novavax vaccine is made using a different technology to both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines. It has not been approved as a booster dose yet.
COVID-19 vaccinations are FREE – so it is a scam if anyone asks for money for a vaccine. Call the NZ Police on 105 immediately if you are approached in this manner.
Booking and getting your COVID-19 vaccine
You can get your COVID-19 vaccination at:
- Your general practice – appointments for enrolled patients only;
- Your local pharmacy;
- A vaccination clinic – an appointment is required;
- A walk-in vaccination centre – no appointment required; or
- A drive-in vaccination centre – an appointment may be required.
Note: Anyone attending a walk-in or drive-in centre is asked to cancel any existing vaccination appointments so that they become available to other people. Staff may be on hand to assist with this if people would like to do this on the spot.
It’s recommended you wait 3 months after testing positive for COVID-19, before getting any COVID-19 vaccination. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine sooner than this might reduce your immune response to the vaccine.
Find out about COVID-19 vaccination clinics in your region
Getting an International Travel Vaccination Certificate
A separate International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate can also be requested if you need one. This provides proof of your vaccination status in order to enter overseas countries. The application process for this certificate may take up to 14 days. People are advised to prepare all their vaccine evidence from overseas and get their applications in as soon as possible
Booster COVID-19 vaccinations for adults 16 years and over
Updated: 28th June 2022
The protection from COVID-19 vaccines wanes over time. A booster dose can restore the protection from your original vaccinations and help prevent you from getting very sick if you do get COVID-19.
Anyone 18 years and older who had their second vaccination more than three months ago is encouraged to get their booster now. Walk-in booster doses are now available.
People aged 16 and 17 years old can now get a free first booster dose at least six months after their second COVID-19 vaccine dose.
You can book your booster shots online. You can book ahead if it’s been less than three months since your second dose – to ensure you get the date and time you prefer once you’re eligible.
Pregnant people are at high risk for severe outcomes from COVID-19 infection. They are also more likely to have complications during pregnancy if they catch COVID-19 and are unvaccinated. The Pfizer booster vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy at least three months after the second dose. The Ministry of Health encourages pregnant people to discuss the timing with their midwife, obstetrician, or general practitioner.
AstraZeneca boosters are available but require a prescription. Prescriptions can be obtained at the vaccinating AstraZeneca clinic or before the vaccine appointment with a doctor. It is FREE to visit the doctor for an AstraZeneca booster prescription.
There will be plenty of booster doses available and no one will miss out.
Note: Booster doses are different from additional primary doses for severely immunocompromised people.
Free second COVID-19 booster for groups at risk of hospitalisation
Second COVID-19 booster vaccinations are now available and recommended for:
- People aged 65 years and over;
- Māori and Pacific peoples older than 50;
- People who are severely immunocompromised who received a three-dose primary course and a fourth dose as a first booster;
- People aged 16 years and over with a medical condition that increases the risk of severe illness; and
“The availability of the second booster has also been extended to health, aged-care and disability workers over the age of 30,” Dr Ayesha Verrall said.
“For those not at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, a two-dose primary course and one booster continues to provide very good protection. So, for those who haven’t had a first booster, please act now.”
The second booster dose should be offered six months after the previous dose, and postponed for three months after a COVID-19 infection.
A second booster dose is not recommended for anyone who is pregnant and is healthy, including those with no underlying health conditions which could increase the risk of severe COVID-19.
“Staying up-to-date with the recommended COVID-19 vaccinations will continue to protect you from the risk of serious illness, hospitalisation or death,” Dr Verrall said.
“The Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Technical Advisory Group will continue to review new information on COVID-19 and vaccines and will make further recommendations on eligibility criteria as necessary.”
COVID-19 vaccinations for children 5 to 11 years
Updated: 5th May 2022
Parents and caregivers can protect their children aged 5 to 11 against COVID-19 with the child version of the Pfizer vaccine now available.
Tamariki aged 5 to 11 years old will receive a lower dose of the Pfizer vaccine and will need two doses eight weeks apart. Children must have a parent, caregiver or legal guardian with them at their appointment and provide consent for them to get the vaccine.
“Immunisation is an important way we keep tamariki safe – like being sun smart or wearing a seatbelt. It protects your tamariki from many serious diseases and stops disease spreading within your whānau and the community,” says Dr Helen Skinner, the Senior Responsible Officer for the Canterbury DHB COVID-19 response.
Most children and young people who catch COVID-19 will have mild symptoms. However, some can become very sick and require hospitalisation.
It is strongly recommended that parents or caregivers make a booking for their children on the Book My Vaccine website. This is because some GP practices clinics are only vaccinating enrolled patients.
Severely immunocompromised tamariki can now receive a third dose
Tamariki aged 5 to 11 who are severely immunocompromised can receive a third primary dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from Thursday 5th May 2022.
People who are severely immunocompromised are at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 and might not produce a strong enough immune response after two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
A third primary dose offers extra protection and may help reduce the likelihood of giving the virus to others.
It’s recommended that parents or guardians schedule an appointment with their health care professional who has access to the child’s medical records to confirm eligibility. Appointments to discuss eligibility are free.
A prescription must also be provided by a GP or nurse practitioner before severely immunocompromised children can be given a third primary dose. Prescriptions can be taken to any vaccination site.
The third primary dose should be given 8 weeks after the second dose but may be given after 4 weeks depending on current or planned immunosuppressive therapies.
What you can do on the My Covid Record website
Kiwis can now view their COVID-19 vaccination and test records through the website My Covid Record.
“We’re listening to whānau, communities and business who want to see a return to a more normal life as soon as possible. My Covid Record is one tool we’re putting in place to help enable us to open up New Zealand,” says Michael Dreyer – Ministry of Health Group Manager, National Digital Services.
COVID-19 tests: Find out or enter your results
You can see recent COVID-19 test results on My Covid Record. You can view all the test results you have had in the last 90 days, including the type of test and the date of the result.
Be aware that there will be a delay of 72 hours before a recent PCR test result will be visible on your My Covid Record account.
You can also enter the results of any RAT tests onto My COVID Record.
Getting an International Travel Vaccination Certificate
An International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate can also be requested if you need one. This provides proof of your vaccination status in order to enter overseas countries. The application process for this certificate may take up to 14 days. People are advised to prepare all their vaccine evidence from overseas and get their applications in as soon as possible.
Getting an updated My Vaccine Pass
New Zealanders who are up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations will be able to download an updated My Vaccine Pass from Tuesday 24th May 2022.
“Since the introduction of My Vaccine Pass last year, the COVID-19 vaccination landscape has changed. While My Vaccine Pass is not legally required, people are encouraged to have their pass for when it might be needed,” COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said.
Updated My Vaccine Passes will be available for anyone aged 12 and over who is up to date with their vaccinations for their age group and for the type of vaccine they have received. This includes boosters for those over 18.
“The legal requirement for businesses to use My Vaccine Passes was removed in April 2022. Some businesses may be voluntarily keeping My Vaccine Pass requirements as a condition of entry.
“For this reason, it is a good idea to have an up-to-date My Vaccine Pass handy in case you are asked for it. I encourage everyone to stay up-to-date with their vaccinations and download their updated pass as it’s an important record of their vaccination status.”
An updated My Vaccine Passes will have an expiry date six months from the date of issue. The pass can be requested at any time provided people continue to be up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations.
Anyone aged 12 and over can get a My Vaccine Pass if they have had their recommended COVID-19 vaccinations. A My Vaccine Pass is not available for children aged 5 to 11 years old.
Sources: Ministry of Health media release (13th October 2021) and Beehive media releases (17th November 2021 and 13th May 2022).
Information on COVID-19
It is not time for us to ease up on our precautions against COVID-19. We’ve been through a lot, and we will get through this too. We’re stronger together.
Keeping yourself and others safe from COVID-19
Updated: 13th May 2022
There are a number of things you can do to keep yourself safe while out and about.
Mask up in all indoor settings. Wearing a mask provides great protection. It must cover your nose and mouth. Surgical (paper) masks provide better protection than fabric masks or face coverings.
Maintain physical distancing. Stay at least 1 metre away from people you don’t know.
Increase ventilation in indoor settings by opening windows and doors wherever possible.
Keep up good hygiene habits. Wash and dry your hands frequently or use hand sanitiser. Cover coughs and sneezes and dispose of your tissues in the bin. Clean or disinfect shared surfaces frequently.
Stay home if you’re unwell. Stay at home if you’re not feeling 100 percent. Omicron is highly infectious with an affected person having the potential to infect 10 to 12 other people.
Get tested. Taking a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) if you have COVID-19 symptoms or you are a close household contact of a positive case. It’s important you get tested to identify any Omicron cases in the community – no matter how mild your symptoms are.
Ensure all your immunisations are up to date. This includes your flu immunisation and COVID-19 booster. Children aged from 5 to 11-years-old can now be vaccinated. It is the best protection for them.
Be prepared: Make a plan for home if you get COVID-19
Omicron will be a mild to moderate illness for most people who are fully vaccinated (two doses plus their booster dose). So they will be able to safely isolate and recover at home.
Take the time now to prepare yourselves and others for catching COVID-19.
Make sure you have what you need at home if you need to isolate for at least 10 days. Ensure your medicine cabinet has the basics, and the freezer, pantry and laundry are all well stocked with supplies.
Make a plan for what you will do if you or someone in your household tests positive. Your whole household will all need to isolate if one person gets COVID-19.
Connect with whānau, friends and neighbours to build a support network for each other.
Questions to help put together your family or whānau COVID-19 plan include:
- Where will you isolate away from others?
- Who will do the shopping, cooking and cleaning?
- Is your first aid kit stocked up with the basics?
- Who will look after the kids and pets if one or more of your whānau needs to self-isolate?
Have a travel Plan B. Make sure you are aware of the risk that the spread of COVID-19 might affect your travel or weekend plans and be prepared should this happen.
- Find out about travel around New Zealand at Orange (Unite Against COVID-19).
How to get free medical grade face masks
Added: 14th July 2022
Free packs of medical masks will be soon be provided free for individuals and households from community testing centres and other locations – alongside with free RAT kits.
P2/N95 masks will also be available for clinically vulnerable and high risk individuals.
Anyone who needs extra masks is encouraged to head to a testing site or other location and collect a free pack for you and your whānau. There is no criteria – you do not need to be unwell or have symptoms.
Wearing masks can reduce new cases of the virus by as much as 53 percent. New Zealanders are asked to keep up good mask wearing, especially over the remaining winter months where the virus is more likely to pass in indoor settings.
Note: The Government is also providing 10 million child-size masks available for Year 4 to 7 students in New Zealand and up to 30,000 masks a week for all other students and school staff – alongside extra funding to support better ventilation over winter.
What to do if you feel unwell
Stay home if you’re unwell. Don’t go to work or school. Don’t socialise.
Call Healthline on 0800 35 85 453 if you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms. This is to check if you fit the criteria and need to get tested for COVID-19.
A sore throat is often one of the earliest and most common indicators of COVID-19. Other symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- a new or worsening cough;
- shortness of breath;
- sneezing and a runny nose; or
- a temporary loss of smell.
Some people may present with less typical symptoms such as only: fever, diarrhoea, headache, myalgia (muscle pain), nausea or vomiting, or confusion or irritability.
Symptoms can take up to 14 days to show after a person has been infected. The virus can be passed onto others before someone knows they have it – from up to two days before symptoms develop.
How to get a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) at home
Updated: 14th July 2022
You can now order free rapid antigen tests (RATs) online for home testing. You can also call 0800 222 478 (option 3) from 8am to 8pm instead of ordering online. People will need to have access to a mobile phone to validate their online order.
You can then collect your RAT order from a local collection site, or have someone collect it for you.
Free RATs will soon be available from all current community providers, including marae, community testing centres and local pharmacies.
Anyone who needs extra RATs is encouraged to head to a testing site or other location and collect a free pack for you and your whānau. There is no criteria – you do not need to be unwell or have symptoms.
How to get a PCR test in the community
You can get a PCR test for COVID-19 if you are unwell or a household contact at:
- an after hours urgent care facility; or
- a community-based testing centre.
The testing centre location will determine which test is best for you.
Some practices are only testing patients who are enrolled there or by appointment.
You do not need an appointment to attend a community based testing centre.
Please wear a mask when you come to a testing centre.
Testing is free, unless you require a test for travel overseas. You must contact a medical practice if you need a COVID-19 test to travel overseas.
Anyone who is PCR tested should self-isolate at home until they receive their test result.
Tip: You can also use the NZ COVID Tracer app to find your nearest testing centre. Open the Dashboard and tap the ‘Learn more’ tile. Then tap the ‘Find a testing location’ link to bring up Healthpoint’s list of testing centres.
How you will receive your PCR COVID-19 test results
You will receive a text message if you test positive. Otherwise you will receive a phone call if you don’t have a mobile phone.
You will be asked to complete an online contact tracing form or answer the same questions over the phone.
If a result is positive, you will hear back within 48 hours. Negative tests can take a bit longer to return.
Contact your doctor or the testing centre if you have not received your result after 5 days.
Note: You can see recent COVID-19 test results on My Covid Record. You can view all the test results you have had in the last 90 days, including the type of test and the date of the result. Be aware that there will be a delay of at least 72 hours before a recent PCR test result will be visible on your My Covid Record account.
Access to antiviral medications against COVID-19
Added: 14th July 2022
Access to antiviral medication will be increased to include those most likely to end up in hospital.
Antiviral medications can reduce the seriousness of COVID-19 meaning fewer people need to be hospitalised, so these are being made as pharmacy-only medications.
Pharmac is also broadening the eligibility criteria to enable more people from higher risk groups to access antiviral medications.
These eligible groups will be able to access antivirals without the need for a doctor’s prescription.
From Monday 18 July, anyone over 75 years of age who has tested positive for COVID-19 or anyone who has been admitted previously to an Intensive Care Unit directly as a result of COVID-19 will be eligible to access antivirals through their doctor.
Doctors can now provide back-pocket prescriptions to speed up access. This means that at-risk patients for acute respiratory illnesses can be preapproved and have their prescription ready should they become unwell and need the medicine immediately.
What to do if you test positive for COVID-19
Updated: 23rd May 2022
Most people with COVID-19 are likely to have mild to moderate illness. They will be able to self-isolate and fully recover with support from local healthcare providers.
You will be required to isolate for at least 7 days if you test positive – regardless of your vaccination status. This time will start from either the date you got tested or when your symptoms started. This might be at home, in suitable alternative accommodation or in your current location if you are away from home.
Those that live with a positive case will also need to isolate for at least 7 days and have Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT tests) during this time on Day 3 and Day 7 or if they develop COVID-19 symptoms.
Treat your symptoms. Take paracetamol for the aches and fever, throat lozenges and gargles for your throat. Drink plenty of clear liquids, eat healthy meals and try to get quality sleep.
Monitor your health. Please call 111 immediately if you or a household member become seriously unwell or experience issues breathing to the point that it is difficult to speak.
Stay informed from reliable sources about COVID-19
- Visit your local DHB website for important hospital and health hub information, such as visitor restrictions, parking and shuttle services.
- Visit your local council website for information on their essential services (such as rubbish and recycling collection or public transport) and also upcoming rates payments.
Local public health response to novel coronavirus COVID-19
Community and Public Health stood up their Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in just two hours in late January 2020 in response to COVID-19 with staff ceasing ‘business as usual’ work. Every effort, hour and individual has been focused on the response since then, and will likely be the last organisation to wind down. Our staff have been involved in the local COVID-19 response in many ‘behind the scenes’ ways across Canterbury, South Canterbury, West Coast and the Chatham Islands.