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Printed: 24/02/2024
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Last updated: 29/06/2022

Talking to tamariki, whānau or family and caregivers about the COVID-19 vaccine

This guidance supports kaimahi who work directly with tamariki and rangatahi and their whānau or family and caregivers to help them to have conversations about vaccination against COVID-19. It also includes the consent process.

Information about the vaccine and why it's important

Vaccination not only reduces the likelihood and severity of illness from COVID-19, but also reduces the transmission rate of the virus. This means that people who are vaccinated are less likely to pass on the virus to other people. Some people cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons or are aged under 5 years – by getting vaccinated, you are helping to protect them as well.

Under the COVID-19 Protection Framework settings, there may still be a limited number of situations where people may be required to show evidence of their vaccination status. This may include using a Vaccine Pass or their COVID Record. In most places, such as hospitality venues, sports, hairdressers and faith-based gatherings, access no longer depends on a Vaccine Pass.

Tamariki aged 5 to 11 years old will not be required to show a Vaccine Pass in the limited number of places where being fully vaccinated is still a requirement.

Vaccination is a way we can whakamana and empower each other. We want tamariki, rangatahi, whānau or family and caregivers to be well, to have access to good-quality information and to experience oranga motuhake. We are not health practitioners, but we have a role to play in having productive, healthy and effective conversations about COVID-19 vaccination, supporting people to access factual information and offering support and assistance for people to access vaccination and, if necessary, their Vaccine Pass or COVID Record.

For tamariki and rangatahi in the care or custody of Oranga Tamariki, it is important that we support whānau or family and other guardians to participate in discussions about the vaccine before tamariki or rangatahi are booked to receive their vaccination or go to a walk-in vaccination centre.

The COVID-19 website has a range of resources available in different languages.

COVID-19 vaccination and children |

COVID-19 vaccine fact sheets |

Engaging with tamariki, whānau or family about vaccination

Talking to tamariki and rangatahi

It is important to talk to tamariki and rangatahi about COVID-19 vaccination in a way that is appropriate for their age, culture and stage of development.

For some tamariki and rangatahi, this may be the first vaccination they remember, and they may be anxious about it. We should assure them that feeling worried is normal and reiterate the safety and importance of getting the vaccine. It could be helpful to talk through any details if known, such as time and place and who will be there to support them (such as a teacher, nurse or whānau or family member). There are some great resources that help explain the vaccination:

Vaccination for children |

COVID-19 vaccinations: your questions answered |

Talking to whānau or family

Some whānau or family may have already been vaccinated as a part of their job or through the general national rollout. Others may have doubts or apprehension about getting the vaccine. Whānau or family may be worried about their tamariki or rangatahi not being able to be vaccinated or concerned about their tamariki or rangatahi living with vaccinated or non-vaccinated caregivers. Talk about who will accompany tamariki to their vaccination.

The adult who takes te tamaiti to their vaccination appointment should be advised that consent has been provided by the guardians. If the vaccinator needs confirmation of guardian consent, then the social worker’s contact details should be provided.

For tamariki aged 5 to 11, there are some differences to older tamariki or rangatahi and adults in number and frequency of doses:

  Tamariki aged 5 to 11 years Tamariki and rangatahi aged 12+
Vaccination type Paediatric Pfizer Pfizer
Number of doses 2 2
Gap between dose 1 and 2 8+ weeks (although this can be shortened in limited circumstances 3+ weeks
Booster Need to check eligibility

16 and 17 year olds are eligible 6 months after their 2nd dose

12 to 15 year olds are not eligible

2nd booster Need to check eligibility

16 and 17 year olds who have a medical condition that increases the risk of severe breakthrough COVID-19 illness 6 months after 1st booster

16 and 17 year olds who live with disability with significant or complex health needs or multiple comorbidities 6 months after 1st booster

Further advice on eligibility can be accessed through the Ministry of Health helpline or the COVID-19 website.

Phone: 0800 28 29 26

How to get a COVID-19 vaccination |

Even when tamariki and rangatahi are able to make their own decision about the vaccine, we should be engaging with whānau or family to keep them informed and gather their views. We might need to explain that tamariki and rangatahi can make these decisions for themselves even if it goes against their own views.

Help whānau or family to access reliable information and listen to any concerns they have.

Support a whānau or family-based approach to vaccination. If whānau or family need support to be vaccinated themselves, ask how we can assist them (for example, transport or explore the possibility of them being vaccinated at the same time as their tamariki). Provide specific information about where and when whānau or family can be vaccinated in your community. Explore familiar environments and people who whānau or family trust.

COVID-19 vaccine fact sheets |

Book My Vaccine | Ministry of Health

Keeping others informed

Where there are multiple kaimahi working directly with tamariki, rangatahi, whānau or family, such as in a residence, we should consult with each other and keep everyone informed about the conversations we have been having, sharing the views where appropriate and with consent. This will minimise tamariki, rangatahi, whānau or family having to have multiple conversations about the same thing.


We record in a CYRAS casenote conversations we have had, including people’s views and decisions that have been made. We include the words COVID-19 vaccination in the casenote header and clearly record whether consent has been given by guardians.

Update the All About Me plan for te tamaiti or rangatahi, including if te tamaiti or rangatahi has been vaccinated or has chosen not to be vaccinated.