General information

Your local pharmacist is available in your community to support your medicine supply and information needs. 

Medicine supply in communities has had some changes and restrictions resulting from COVID-19. These restrictions were intended to minimise any impacts on supply caused by potential international supply and manufacturing disruptions.

However, medicines are sourced from several countries through international agreements, and our medicine supply is secure.

There is no need to stockpile medicines. Currently New Zealanders can still get the medicines they need.

Many pharmacies offer COVID vaccinations.

Availability of medicines

The Pharmaceutical Management Agency of New Zealand (Pharmac) works with the Ministry of Health (including Medsafe) and Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora to provide affordable access to prescription medicines, and to promote the optimal use of medicines.

On 1 August 2020 PHARMAC returned most medicines to ‘all-at-once’ dispensing. They monitor stockpiling behaviour and will amend dispensing rules if necessary.

However, some medicines are on monthly dispensing. Which medicines are on monthly dispensing will change as the fluctuations in the international supply chain affect different medicines. You can get updates on medicines and supply issues from Pharmac.

Find out more about dispensing frequency on the Pharmac website.

Pharmacies as RAT collection centres

A large number of pharmacies throughout New Zealand are part of a network of distributors providing free RATs.  These locations are detailed on the Healthpoint website and on Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora local health web sites.

Be kind to pharmacists

Our pharmacists do an important job and are there to support your health.

It can be frightening not to get the medicines you need, but your pharmacist is an expert who can suggest alternatives if they’re needed in the short term.

If you are prescribed medicine, you should continue taking it as directed. Medicines help manage illnesses so they don’t become severe, and more serious treatment (eg, in hospital) is not needed.

One way to help pharmacists is – if you don’t need your prescription straight away – to arrange for the prescription to be sent through to the pharmacy of your choice. Then make contact with them to arrange a convenient time to pick up your medicine or have it delivered.

This allows the pharmacy team to be available to spend time with you if you need it, and minimises numbers in pharmacies if you don’t.

Guidance for pharmacy operators

COVID-19 Care in the Community Programme

Personal protective equipment (PPE) for Pharmacists

From 1 October 2023, Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora will begin to discontinue publicly funded PPE for all health and disability service providers. This will be managed in a phased approach on a product-by-product basis.

When products stop being available for order, pharmacists will need to buy them from the private market again.

Product discontinuation timings are available and updated monthly based on the latest forecast data at COVID-19: Personal Protective Equipment Central Supply.

To support healthcare workers with decision making on PPE selection to help prevent transmission of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, a range of resources and guidance has been developed. See PPE guidance for healthcare settings.



Pharmacy licensing: Closure and relocation

Guidance for pharmacy operators.

Allied Health

For further information and guidance for pharmacists and other allied health professionals see Advice for community allied health, scientific and technical providers.