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Covid-19 Vaccine Survey Information

The following message is from the Ministry of Health:

Post-vaccine symptom survey launched

From tomorrow, the Ministry of Health will survey people to find out about any reactions they had following their COVID-19 vaccine.

Up to 10% of people who receive a dose of the Pfizer vaccine will be randomly selected and invited to participate in the survey, which is optional. They will receive a text message from the Ministry of Health six days after each dose, and then another 43 days after the second dose, asking whether they had any reactions to the vaccine dose.

Called a Post Vaccine Symptom Check, the survey will run daily for the remainder of the COVID-19 Immunisation Programme. Once enough information has been collected to report on, it will be grouped and anonymously displayed on the Medsafe website, likely from late September. 

Responses to the survey are being captured for overall monitoring only and individual responses will not be followed up. Anyone who feels unwell or concerned about their health should contact their doctor or health provider.

Patients and healthcare professionals should continue to submit reactions to any vaccine or medicine on the CARM website.

Key Messages and QAs:

Key messages

  • The Post Vaccine Symptom Check is a mobile-based survey which will help the Ministry of Health to monitor reactions to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in New Zealand.
  • We’re already tracking reports of serious and non-serious reactions after either dose of the Pfizer vaccine using our world-class reporting system.
  • The Post Vaccine Symptom Check is an additional way for us to collect data.
  • Collecting data about reactions to the vaccine helps us to confirm that the safety of the vaccine in New Zealand is the same that was seen in clinical trials.
  • Up to 10% of New Zealanders who have received a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will be randomly selected to participate in the Post Vaccine Symptom Check.
  • A text message will be sent from the Ministry of Health, to ask whether you had any reactions to the vaccine.
  • You can either reply YES, NO or STOP to opt out. If you reply YES, you will be invited to complete a short survey and will be sent a unique URL via text message.
  • You will receive a text 6 days after your COVID-19 vaccine appointments, and 43 days after your second dose, unless you opt out.

Additional messages

  • Responding to this text message will help support ongoing safety monitoring of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine used in New Zealand.
  • The information provided in the survey will not be followed up on from a healthcare practitioner. If you have any concerns about any reaction you experience, seek medical attention or call Healthline for free at 0800 358 5453.
  • More information about the Post Vaccine Symptom Check can be found on the Medsafe website.
  • Taking the survey is optional. If you don’t want to participate in the survey, you don’t have to give a reason, and it won’t affect the care you receive.
  • If you decide to take part now, but change your mind later, you can opt out of participating in this survey at any time.
  • If you do not receive a text, you can still report any reactions you have to the Pfizer vaccine through Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM), even if they are mild. Reactions may include fever, headache, fatigue or sore arm.
  • The World Health Organization has recommended strengthening and enhancing the ability to monitor reactions after receiving COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Other countries, including Australia and America, already have a system like this in place to capture more information about reactions people have after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Reactive Questions and Answers

How are people selected to participate?

A random selection of up to 10% of New Zealanders vaccinated on any day will be selected to take part in the survey 6 days later. This means you may not receive a text.

For the first few weeks, the sample will be completely random. Over the coming weeks, the Ministry will be upgrading the software so it can send proportionally more invites to Māori and Pacific Peoples and will assess response rates by groups to ensure equitable coverage.

The Ministry is committed to its obligations to Te Tiriti and understands responses from our Tangata Whenua is critical to strengthen the safety monitoring of the Pfizer vaccine in Aotearoa.

I didn’t register, why am I being sent a text?

The Post Vaccine Symptom Check uses the mobile numbers provided in the COVID Immunisation Register (CIR). As this is a complementary method to improve safety assessments of the COVID-19 vaccines in New Zealand, it does not require you to register, similar to how your GP might follow up via text with results of a lab test.

[if needed] Anyone who wishes to opt out of participating in the survey can do so on receipt of the first text message.

Anyone who has previously declined to be contacted with their information in the CIR will not have their number used for the Post Vaccine Symptom Check.

What is done with my information/where does my information go/ where can I find the survey results?

Information collected from the survey will be grouped and reported on the Medsafe website. The Ministry will analyse survey responses and investigate if there are any trends seen, for example rates of specific events in different ethnic groups, age ranges and/or genders. We will also investigate the response rates from different groups of people to ensure health equity.

Further information about the Post Vaccine Symptom Check can be found on the Medsafe website

Doesn’t NZ already have a system for people to report side effects/reactions?

New Zealand has a world leading system which allows the public to report side effects of all medications or vaccinations. This report can be submitted on the CARM website or by calling the COVID Healthline for free at 0800 28 29 26.

The World Health Organisation has recommended enhancing surveillance of reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines. We have strengthened our existing surveillance system, and are adding this additional tool to enhance safety monitoring of the Pfizer vaccine in New Zealand.

Are Medsafe or CARM worried about the safety of the safety of the vaccine?

All medicines have side effects. The purpose of monitoring the safety is to understand these better.

Do any other countries do this?

Yes, multiple countries are also conducting surveys of people who have received their vaccination by texting people who have had a vaccine. This includes Australia (AusVaxSafety) and the United States of America (V-Safe).

Why now?

The Ministry has successfully scaled the vaccination programme up. This means more people will be getting their Pfizer vaccine per week. We wanted to enhance our understanding of people’s vaccine experiences. We also wanted an easy way for New Zealanders to identify what reactions to expect after either dose of their Pfizer vaccine.

Will this be done with any other vaccine services (eg, follow up on the influenza vaccine)?

There is no plan to do this with any other vaccine services at present.

How will you reach people without a mobile phone or data?

One limitation of Post Vaccine Symptom Check is it cannot be sent to people who do not have a mobile phone or data. However, if people want to send any reaction they had to either of the Pfizer vaccine doses, CARM is able to receive reports of reactions via phone (03 479 7247 to speak to a medical advisor at CARM) or you can contact the COVID Healthline for free at 0800 28 29 26.

Will you contact people any other way (phone, email, mail)? If not, why?

Post Vaccine Symptom Check will not contact people by email, mail or phone calls. Post Vaccine Symptom Check can only obtain information from people who have provided their mobile phone number to the COVID Immunisation Register.

How will I be surveyed?

Text messages will be sent to the cell phone number you have provided at three stages of your vaccination journey.

Text 1: Sent 6 days after your first dose of your COVID-19 vaccine

Text 2: Sent 6 days after your second dose of your COVID-19 vaccine

Text 3: Sent 43 days after your second dose of your COVID-19 vaccine

These texts will ask you if you have had a side effect after your vaccine. You can respond with “NO” or “YES” for example if you had pain at the injection site or headache. If you respond “YES”, you will receive a follow up text which will link you to a survey asking you about this reaction. If you do not want to receive these text messages any more, simply respond “STOP”.

What other information is being collected?

Your survey answers will be linked with information you have provided, such as your age, gender and ethnicity. It is important we collect this information with your responses to help us understand the safety of the Pfizer vaccine in different groups of people. We will also use these responses to inform if we need to change who we are asking to complete the survey, for example if we find that we have few responses from one group, we may increase the number of invites to complete the survey to that group.

How long with the survey take?

The survey will take less than 5 minutes to complete.

When can I see the information on the Medsafe website?

It will take approximately 4 weeks before the first report will be available. These reports will be updated regularly.

What will my survey answers be used for?

The information you provide will help:
  • Inform people who are about to receive their vaccines on what reactions to expect (overall outcomes will be available on Medsafe’s website
  • Help the Ministry understand the reactions which are occurring in the New Zealand population after vaccination.

How is my privacy protected?

The information you provide in this survey is confidential and is protected by the Privacy Act 2020 and by the safeguards we have put in place. We ensure security by:
  • Keeping data safe from unauthorised access and use
  • Not releasing information that could identify individuals
  • Storing health information in the COVID Immunisation Register, where it is secure and protected

Why are we conducting surveys after people have been vaccinated? (Benefits of collecting additional safety data)

  • To support ongoing safety monitoring of the Pfizer vaccine used in New Zealand
  • To inform New Zealanders on what reactions to expect after receiving their two Pfizer vaccine doses

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