AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine receives Medsafe approval in New Zealand


29 Jul 2021
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The COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca has now received provisional approval from Medsafe for use in New Zealand. It joins COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen which received the same approval earlier in the month. 

The Immunisation Advisory Centre’s Medical Director Professor Nikki Turner says, “It is great to have more COVID-19 vaccines receive this approval from Medsafe following the government’s pre-purchase agreements of these vaccines. Long term, it gives us more opportunities and puts us in a stronger position with more COVID-19 vaccines in our kete should we need them. 

“All three of these vaccines have proven to have good safety and efficacy profiles in the different ways they work. 

“Right now, we have good access to supplies of our primary COVID-19 vaccine (Comirnaty Pfizer/BioNTech) and we need to maintain our focus on getting as many people in New Zealand vaccinated. Vaccination is a major component of our insurance policy to minimse the damage from COVID-19 and the time is now to prevent an outbreak in an unvaccinated population. COVID-19 and particularly the new Delta variant remains just a plane ride away from causing us pain.

“With the current possibility of gaining access to the COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen later in the year, we are not likely to be imminently using the AstraZeneca vaccine but the Medsafe approval remains a helpful milestone in giving us flexibility and options for the future should we need them.”

About the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca

The COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca is a non-replicating viral vector vaccine using technology similar to that used in the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. There is no live virus in the vaccine, so it is impossible to get COVID-19 from this vaccine. 

The effectiveness data for the AstraZeneca vaccine, from both the clinical trials and now from extensive international use, are excellent. Phase 3 trial data showed an overall vaccine efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 of 55 to 81%. Promising real-world data has suggested AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine has an effectiveness against hospital admission of at least 80% after a single dose.

There is robust safety data on COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca from clinical trials and extensive real-world use. Common adverse side effects seen following vaccination include mild pain and tenderness in the arm at the site of the injection, fatigue, headache, sore muscles and fever. Reactions are generally mild and self-resolving within 1-2 days.  

A very rare but serious side effect of blood clots with low levels of platelets (thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome or TTS) has been seen following vaccination with the COVID-19 viral vector vaccines, mostly in those aged under 50 years and after the first dose. The incidence of TTS remains very rare (1 to <15 cases per million doses, depending on age) with the benefits of vaccination outweighing this small risk. 

More information about the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca vaccine is available on

Last updated: 22 August 2021