Friday, May 24, 2024

New COVID booster plan unveiled

All New Zealanders aged 30 and over will be able to access the new COVID bivalent booster from April, Minister of Health, Ayesha Verrall announced today.

The new bivalent vaccine will replace the existing Pfizer booster and is considered likely to be more effective against Omicron subvariants, the Minister said. Bivalent vaccines work by combining two strains of a virus, which prompts the body to create antibodies against both strains, providing a greater level of protection.

“From 1 April, anyone 30+ will be eligible to receive the bivalent vaccine, as long as it’s been at least 6 months since their last COVID-19 booster or positive COVID-19 test,” Dr Verrall said.

“People at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 will also be able to receive an additional booster, regardless of how many doses they’ve previously had.”

As well as broadening the criteria from April, from 1 March anyone currently eligible for a COVID-19 booster will be able to get the new bivalent vaccine.

“We know vaccination is the best protection against the virus, and these actions will provide added protection to a larger number of adult New Zealanders. Latest reporting from the Ministry of Health indicated 8,220 cases over the previous week so the virus is definitely still circulating out there,” the Minister said.

“We’re also planning for older New Zealanders and those most at risk of getting sick to get a flu jab at the same time as their COVID-19 booster. This will be part of a ‘one and done’ approach to help people stay well this winter.

“Because it may be a while since your previous boosters, now is a good time to check your records on www.BookMyVaccine.nz. Vaccination against COVID-19 remains free.

“Getting boosted is important for your health and keeping out of hospital this winter,” Minister Verrall said.

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