These FAQs are collated using information from Unite Against COVID-19, the New Zealand Government, Ministry of Health, and The National DHB Bipartite Action Group.

We’ll do our best to update this as new information becomes available.

Vaccine mandates

Click here for our FAQs about the vaccine mandate.

Understanding the vaccine

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

We believe the vaccine is safe.

The Pzifer vaccine was authorised through Medsafe prior to release in New Zealand.

It is held to the same high safety standards as any other medicine.

To understand more about the vaccine and how it was developed, CLICK HERE.

If I get the vaccine, can I still get COVID-19?

The vaccine helps prevent you from experiencing severe illness and having to go to hospital, if you get the virus.

  • Studies show that around 95% of people who received both doses of the vaccine were protected from serious illness.
  • The Ministry of Health says data from Pfizer shows that a booster dose is 95.6 percent effective against COVID-19 (including the Delta variant), compared to those who did not receive a booster.

For essential workers and those in close contact at work with others (i.e. hospitality), the vaccine helps to protect you, your whānau, and community.

If I get the vaccine, can I still spread COVID-19?

The vaccine can reduce the number of people who get COVID-19.

It doesn’t stop you from passing on the virus, but studies have shown that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine can reduce transmission by more than 50%. 

Do I still need to wear PPE at work, even if I’ve had the vaccine?

Yes. You must still follow all PPE requirements and scan in at all locations using the COVID-19 tracer app.

Receiving the vaccine

How many doses of the vaccine will I need?

You will need two doses to ensure you have the full protection the vaccine can offer.

The Government currently recommends receiving these three to six weeks apart.

What about the ‘booster’ vaccine?

You are eligible for an extra shot of the vaccine four months after you have received your second dose.

The booster dose provides stronger protection against the new Omicron variant of COVID-19.

How long does it take to receive the vaccine?

You’ll need to stay at the vaccination location for 30 minutes afterwards to make sure you don’t have any allergic or other reactions.

Will my work pay for the time it takes to receive the vaccine?

Your employer must give you time during your work hours to get vaccinated.

This could include:

  • waiting time before and after receiving the vaccine
  • time off if more is required after receiving the vaccine
  • time off to assist dependents to get the vaccine

Your employer must make sure they pay you your normal wage during these times.

Your rights around vaccination

Can I refuse to be vaccinated?

Yes. You also have the right to representation if you experience harassment or discrimination because of your choice not to be vaccinated.

E tū’s ability to be successful in defending your decision will depend on:

  • The risk level of your personal situation for the people around you
  • What kind of role you are working in

Under the Government’s vaccine mandate, some roles will be open to vaccinated workers only.

What happens if I don’t want to/refuse to be vaccinated?

You have a right to refuse to be vaccinated.

But your employer must assess your risk and the risk posed to other workers, customers, and the public, as per the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

Employers are obligated to eliminate, isolate, or minimise that risk.

That could include a change to:

  • Your role
  • Hours of work
  • Location of work

It’s also possible that you could face termination of your job, if no alternative work, hours, or location is available.

If this is the case for you, carefully think about:

  • your reasons for refusing the vaccine
  • the risk to yourself and others.

E tū strongly suggests you seek medical advice from your doctor (GP) or Healthline before refusing to be vaccinated.

For more, see MBIE’s guidance around vaccination and work HERE.

Can I be fired for refusing the vaccine?

Employers cannot require an individual to be vaccinated.

However, they can require a specific role be performed by a vaccinated person.

  • If you refuse to be vaccinated, your employer must assess your risk and the risk to other workers, customers and the public as per the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, as above.
  • From October 2021, non-vaccinated workers in roles that require vaccination had a four-week notice period to get their vaccination, before their employment could be terminated.

E tū strongly suggests you seek medical advice from your doctor (GP) or Healthline before refusing to be vaccinated.

For more, see MBIE’s guidance around vaccination and work HERE.

What do I do if I can’t be vaccinated/am not sure if I can be vaccinated?

Check in with your doctor (GP).

If you are medically unable to be vaccinated, please ask your GP to provide evidence of this and let your manager know.

Who do I go to if I have questions about the vaccine?

If you have questions or concerns about the vaccine, you are best to speak to your GP or to call Healthline.

E tū and vaccination

What is E tū’s view on vaccination?

E tū strongly supports the Government’s vaccine roll out.

We encourage everyone who can be vaccinated to get vaccinated.

The vaccine is a powerful tool that will help to keep our whānau, colleagues, and communities protected, so we can get back to the many parts of our lives that are important to us.

How will E tū support members?

E tū wants to make sure that:

  • members have a good understanding of what the mandate means
  • members’ workplace rights are upheld
  • employers follow a fair process to implement the mandate
  • workers are properly consulted about mandate as it relates specifically to their roles
  • workers have access to information and community support about the vaccine.

This includes representation for those who decide not to be vaccinated, or who meet the criteria for an exemption to the mandate.

How will E tū support members who can’t or do not wish to get vaccinated?

Most importantly, E tū wants to see a fair process.

If a risk assessment shows that vaccination is necessary for a worker’s particular role, then an employer should make the best effort to find suitable, alternative work for workers who are not vaccinated.

We won’t tolerate discrimination against workers who choose not to vaccinate.

E tū also does not condone harassment and breaches of privacy regarding workers’ medical lives.

In what other ways will E tū be involved in the rollout?

The Government requires employers to engage with union delegates, health and safety representatives, and the wider work force.

E tū delegates will play an important role in making sure workers have the information they need about the vaccine and feel comfortable to receive it.

This includes addressing any concerns about the vaccine or the vaccination process.

As a union, E tū will continually update its platforms as new information becomes available.

Finding out more

  • Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation (MBIE)


  • Ministry of Health


  • Unite Against COVID-19


Last updated: 25 January 2022