Covid-19: Health Ministry prepares for booster dose demand

covid-19:-health-ministry-prepares-for-booster-dose-demand

Auckland’s biggest vaccination centre is reopening today, as thousands of New Zealanders become eligible for their booster dose this week.

Cars line up for the first day of the country's largest drive-through vaccination centre at the Park and Ride at Auckland Airport on 22 August 2021

Photo: Screengrab

The gap between the second dose and the time New Zealanders will be eligible for their booster dose will fall from six months to four months on Wednesday, meaning anyone aged 18 and over who had their second vaccination at least four months ago can have their booster dose.

With two cases of Omicron in the community this week, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the good news was that there was “clear evidence” that the Pfizer vaccine provides protection against Omicron.

“We also know that a booster dose with Pfizer provides better protection against the Omicron variant than the two-dose course.

“While two doses provide some degree of protection against severe disease from Omicron, a third dose is likely to offer greater protection against transmitting Covid-19 to others and reducing the chance of more serious infections.”

Dr Bloomfield said speeding up the booster rollout was a key part of the country’s response to Omicron.

“The shorter interval means more than 82 per cent of vaccinated New Zealanders will be eligible for a booster by the end of February 2022.

“More than 326,000 people who were vaccinated in the early part of the rollout have already had their booster doses, which is more than 70 percent of those who were eligible in 2021.”

Dr Bloomfield has urged everyone who is eligible to get their booster as soon as possible to protect themselves, their whānau and the wider community.

Vaccination providers and staff across the country are working through the holiday season and the Auckland Airport Park and Ride drive through vaccination centre has reopened today. The Park and Ride – which is operating from 10am-5pm, with no appointment needed – can vaccinate more than 4000 people a day.

Dr Bloomfield said the coronavirus was continuing to create new challenges.

“I want to thank all the healthcare workers who continue to go above and beyond to respond to these challenges and keep our communities safe, particularly those working over the holidays.

“Our vaccination teams had a huge 2021 and did an outstanding job. They deserved as much of a break over Christmas and the New Year as is possible – and our heartfelt thanks.

“From next week, that work starts again.”

The Ministry of Health is not releasing any data on Covid-19 infections in New Zealand today.

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