These FAQs may be updated as more information becomes known.
This guide was developed using information from the New Zealand Ministry of Health, the Haemophilia Foundation Australia, and the World Federation of Hemophilia for education and information purposes only and does not replace advice from a treating health professional.
For comprehensive information on New Zealand’s Covid-19 health response go to http://www.health.govt.nz/
Will I be vaccinated sooner because of my bleeding disorder?
People with bleeding disorders are not at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 or developing a severe form of the disease, so they are not considered a priority group for vaccination.
The New Zealand Government will roll out the vaccine in phases, starting with border and managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) workers from 20 February 2021. The general public vaccinations are expected to begin in the second half of 2021, from July. Some groups have been prioritised because they will be the most affected if they become infected with COVID-19. You can get more information on the phases for the vaccine rollout here: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-vaccines/covid-19-getting-vaccine#when
Where will I receive my vaccination?
To start with, it is likely vaccines will be given to the general public in workplaces and community locations. District health boards (DHBs) will confirm vaccination sites closer to the time. Check with your HTC to see if they have made special provisions for people with bleeding disorders.
Is the COVID-19 vaccination safe for people with bleeding disorders?
In general, the COVID-19 vaccine is as safe and effective for people with bleeding disorders as for anybody else without a bleeding disorder.
There are no specific contraindications to vaccination related to complications of haemophilia and other bleeding disorders or their therapies. Immune tolerance, treatment of hepatitis C and HIV, and other conditions do not contraindicate vaccination.
For patients in a clinical study, vaccination should be reported to the study investigators.
The New Zealand Government has a careful and thorough process to check that the COVID-19 vaccines in New Zealand are safe and effective before it makes them available to the community. You can find more information about how the Covid-19 vaccinations work here: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-vaccines/covid-19-getting-vaccine#how
Do I need treatment for my bleeding disorder before I have the vaccine?
As with all immunisations, there are some steps you may need to take before being vaccinated.
Three of the four currently approved vaccines require two injections over a number of weeks for full vaccination; the Novavax vaccine only requires one injection. All injections are intramuscular. They cannot be given sub-cutaneously (under the skin).
You may need to have treatment beforehand to prevent bleeding from the injection site. Please contact your HTC to discuss this.
If you have a moderate or severe bleeding disorder, such as haemophilia or vWD or a rare clotting factor deficiency:
- If you are on prophylaxis with clotting factor concentrate, time it to have it on the day of your vaccination before the injection
- If you do not routinely give yourself factor, please contact your HTC for advice
- If you are taking emicizumab (Hemlibra®), whether you have inhibitors or not, just follow your usual treatment plan - you do not need to take any extra treatments before the vaccine injection.
If you have mild haemophilia or Type 1 or Type 2 VWD:
- Usually you will not need any special treatment with factor concentrate or DDAVP before the vaccine. Please follow the general precautions for immunisations - see below.
- However, if you have ever had a problem with bleeding from an injection in the past, please contact your HTC or haematologist for advice before you have the vaccine.
How do I prevent bleeding with the vaccine injection?
As you would do with any immunisation, let the health care provider who is giving the vaccine know that you have a bleeding disorder.
- Ask them to use the smallest gauge needle that is available for the vaccine. Some COVID-19 vaccines must be administered with the needle and syringe package provided and a smaller gauge needle may not be possible.
- Apply pressure on the injection site for 10 minutes after the injection to reduce bleeding and swelling
- Check the injection site several minutes and 2-4 hours after the injection, both visually and by touching it, to make sure bleeding and swelling (haematoma) has not occurred
- You may have discomfort in the arm for 1-2 days afterwards. If it becomes worse and there is swelling, contact your Haemophilia Treatment Centre (HTC)
- Do not lift anything heavy with that arm for 24 hours, eg, shopping bags, gym weights, handbags.
Does my bleeding disorder mean I am more likely to have an allergic reaction?
It is rare, but some of the vaccines are known to cause allergic reactions in people who have a history of severe allergic reaction.
If you have ever had an allergic reaction to any vaccine or drug (for example, a severe allergic reaction to PEG or other vaccines) or have had other severe allergic reactions, you should talk to your doctor before you have the vaccine.
If you experience an allergic reaction after the vaccine injection (fever, warmth, redness, itchy skin, rash, shortness of breath, or swelling of the face or tongue), contact your doctor immediately and go to the nearest hospital emergency department straight away, as it can be life-threatening.
Do I need to have the influenza vaccination as well as the COVID-19 vaccine?
Current advice is that people should still have a flu vaccination this season as well as the COVID-19 vaccination.
Ask your doctor about having the flu vaccination and the timing of having it if you are also having the COVID vaccination.
Important Note: If you have any questions about your bleeding disorder in relation to the COVID-19 vaccine, contact your Haemophilia Treatment Centre or your treating haematologist. Always see your health care provider for assessment and advice about your individual health before taking action or relying on published information.
This information may be printed or photocopied for educational purposes.