COVID-19 FAQs

These FAQs provide information about AA Health policies in relation to COVID-19. We have also updated to include FAQ’s around the COVID-19 vaccine. They may be updated from time to time, and were last updated on 20 August 2021.

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?

If you think you may have COVID-19, call the dedicated Healthline number for health advice and information (free, and available 24/7) on 0800 358 5453 and advise them of your symptoms.

For information on symptoms and where to get help, refer to the Ministry of Health website.

Does my health insurance cover COVID-19?

The Ministry of Health will cover the cost of your hospitalisation if you are admitted to public hospital with COVID-19. This includes any or all the following:

  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment of the infectious or quarantinable disease
  • Follow-up services and
  • Contact tracing services.

The extent of Ministry of Health cover is based on what’s appropriate to address the risks, which is determined by a clinician. For more information please visit health.govt.nz

For expenses that aren't covered by the Ministry of Health, you can check your policy details by logging into your AA Health account to see whether there are any out of pocket expenses that may be covered.

Does my cover change as a result of COVID-19 being declared a pandemic?

This declaration does not affect your cover with AA Health. Your cover will continue to operate in line with its normal policy terms and conditions.

Does my policy cover me for doctor and specialist appointments by telephone or video?

Telephone and video consultations with GPs and specialists will be treated the same as in-person consultations and will be covered in line with your policy terms and conditions.

This position will be reviewed regularly to ensure it reflects any changes with the COVID-19 situation in New Zealand and any change on that will be updated on AA Health’s website. Standard claim criteria, such as the requirement to provide an invoice for a consultation, still apply.

Am I covered for diagnostics tests for COVID-19?

The Ministry of Health will cover diagnostics tests for COVID-19. Please note these tests can only be ordered by your doctor if you meet the testing criteria. If you are asked to pay for these tests, you can check your policy details on your AA Health Account to see if your policy may cover you.

Will COVID-19 be considered a pre-existing condition?

If you take out cover with AA Health and have any pre-existing medical conditions such as COVID-19, you may need to disclose these at time of joining. Under Private Hospital or Private Hospital and Specialist cover, some pre-existing medical conditions may be covered immediately, while others may have a stand-down period or be permanently excluded. Please read the policy wordings to find out more.

How do we know the COVID-19 vaccines are effective?

New Zealand’s Medsafe will only approve vaccines that are safe and effective.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been approved for use in New Zealand, and frontline staff and border workers have started receiving the vaccine.

As with any vaccine, the COVID-19 vaccine may not fully protect everyone who receives the jab, but the effectiveness rate is over and beyond what is needed to protect our community.

Clinical trials have shown there is an approximately 95% protection, after receiving two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Who will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccines?

Anyone living in New Zealand who wishes to be immunised against COVID-19 will be eligible to receive the vaccine. This includes all visa holders, refugees and asylum seekers.

Vaccination is voluntary, but the Government is encouraging us to all do our bit and get vaccinated, because it will be the fastest route to ensure domestic travel can continue and our international borders can open.

How are the COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out?

New Zealand’s COVID-19 vaccines programme has already started rolling out and will reach over 2 million people in most at risk groups over the coming months. These are based on priority – those most needing protection will be offered the vaccine first.

The Government has established four different groups and the vaccine will be rolled out accordingly.

Group 1 – February onwards:

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is first being offered to those who come into frequent contact with the virus, including quarantine and border workers, airport and security staff, managed isolation hotel workers and cleaners. Once they’ve been vaccinated, the people they live with will be vaccinated as well.

Group 2 – between March and May:

Next will be frontline healthcare workers, such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists and those working at the testing centres. People who are living in high-risk settings are also included within this group, such as those living and working in long-term residential care homes, older Māori and Pacific people cared for by their whānau and those who live with and care for them, and residents of the Counties Manukau DHB area who fit one of the following criteria:

  • 65 and older
  • disabled people
  • pregnant people (any trimester)
  • have a relevant underlying health condition.

This group started receiving the vaccine in March and will continue until May.

Group 3 – May onwards:

Priority populations include people aged 65 and older, disabled, pregnant, have a relevant underlying health condition and those residing in prison.

Group 4 – July onwards:

Finally, the remainder of the population will have access to the vaccine.

Two other categories are being explored as well. One group are for those who may be able to get a vaccine on compassionate grounds, and the other is a “national significance category” where people may need to get a vaccine in order to represent New Zealand overseas.

To find out when you can get the COVID-19 vaccine, check out this helpful tool that will show you which group you would most likely fall under.

If you have further questions about the COVID-19 vaccines, you can ring the Government’s national Healthline team (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or +64 9 358 5453 for international SIMS.

Where will people be vaccinated?

A variety of locations will be available for people to get their COVID-19 vaccines. For some groups such as workers and residents of long-term residential care environments, they’ll be able to get their vaccine near their workplace or care facility. For the general public, vaccine locations will include doctors, pharmacies, pop-up centres, community clinics, medical and hauora centres and Māori and Pacific providers.

In South Auckland, a new vaccination centre has been established with a focus on border workers’ families. There will also be two more large-scale vaccination centres established in Central and West Auckland.

How many shots of the COVID-19 vaccine are needed?

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine requires a second injection so as to afford best protection. It’s recommended that the second dose be administered at least 6 weeks apart.

The second dose ensures that a person makes more antibodies and also that they get longer-term protection. Without the second dose, a person won’t have the immune memory required to quickly fire up an effective antibody response against a future infection of COVID-19.

Do I have to pay for the COVID-19 vaccines?

The COVID-19 vaccine is free for everyone living in New Zealand, regardless of your visa or citizenship status.

What are the likely side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines?

Common reactions to Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination include pain, redness, swelling where you received the needle and mild fever. These minor side effects usually resolve within a couple of days.

Serious side effects such as severe allergic reactions are extremely rare, and they normally occur within the first 20 minutes of vaccination. For this reason, everyone will be asked to wait at their place of vaccination for 30 minutes after the shot.

Can the COVID-19 vaccine give me COVID-19?

No. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain the live virus or even the whole virus that causes COVID-19, so they can’t give you COVID-19.

Can pregnant women get the COVID-19 vaccine?

In New Zealand, pregnant people are eligible for the vaccine at any stage of their pregnancy. For those pregnant and residing in the Counties Manukau DHB area, they will be eligible as part of the Group 2 vaccine roll-out between March and May. All remaining pregnant women will be able to receive the vaccine under the Group 3 category in May onwards.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding and have concerns, it’s best to discuss getting the vaccine with your doctor or midwife.

Will children be vaccinated against COVID-19?

At this stage, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is not included for people under the age of 16 as they haven’t been part of the clinical trials.

This may change for future vaccinations, as more data and evidence is made available.