Boosters key to protecting Kiwis from Omicron

File photo/SunLive.

New Zealanders are urged to make getting their booster dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine a New Year’s resolution as Auckland’s biggest vaccination centre reopens.

On January 5 2022, the interval between the second dose and the booster reduces from 6 months to 4 months. From this date, anyone aged 18 and over who had their second vaccination at least four months ago can have their booster dose.

“Speeding up the booster rollout is a key part of our response to Omicron,” says Director General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

“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 per cent of those who were eligible in 2021.

“I urge 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 to ensure New Zealanders have options to access their booster dose, wherever they are in the motu.

In Auckland the popular Airport Park and Ride drive through vaccination centre reopened today to increase the availability of booster doses and as part of preparations to protect New Zealanders against Omicron. 

Located at 42 Verissimo Drive, Māngere, the Park and Ride is operating from 10am-5pm, no appointment needed. It can vaccinate over 4,000 people a day and adds significant surge capacity to the network of general practices, Hauora providers, urgent care clinics and community pharmacies providing vaccinations across Auckland through the holiday period.

“The good news is that there is clear evidence that the Pfizer vaccine provides protection against Omicron,” says Dr Bloomfield.

“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.”

From January 5, people aged 18 and over who have gone four months or more since their second dose can get a booster dose at vaccination sites that accept walk-ins or drive-throughs.

From January 5, they can also book a booster by calling the Covid Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 or by making an appointment directly with general practices, Hauora providers, or community pharmacies that operate their own booking systems. Bookings will be available via BookMyVaccine.NZ from 17 January.

“Covid-19 continues to present us with new challenges as we begin the New Year,” Dr Bloomfield says.

“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. With the majority of New Zealanders able to get the extra protection of a booster dose in the coming weeks, and the rollout of the vaccine for 5 to 11 year-olds starting on 17 January, we are as well placed as any country in the world to meet the additional challenges that Omicron brings and to protect our communities.”

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