COVID-19 vaccine: Boosters – Ministry of Health

COVID-19 vaccine: Boosters – Ministry of Health

Ages 16+ are eligible for boosters. If you’ve had COVID-19 it’s recommended you wait 3 months after testing positive before getting any COVID-19 vaccination.
Last updated: 7 April 2022
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Rangatahi aged 16 or 17 can now get a COVID-19 booster (6 months after completing their primary course) from any walk-in vaccination site without booking. From Thu 14 April bookings can be made through Book My Vaccine
If you’re aged 18 or over, and you completed your primary vaccination course* at least 3 months ago, you’re eligible for a booster.
If you’re aged 16 or 17, and you completed your primary vaccination course* at least 6 months ago, you’re eligible for a booster. Only Pfizer is approved for this age group.
You can check when your last vaccination was by logging into My Covid Record.
*For most people a primary course is two doses.
Recommended timing gaps for different COVID-19 vaccines
If you’ve had COVID-19 it’s recommended you wait 3 months after testing positive before getting any COVID-19 vaccination.
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine if you’ve had COVID-19
People under the age of 16 are not eligible for a booster. However, you can discuss specific clinical circumstances with your GP or healthcare provider.
As with all medicines, vaccines can be used outside of Medsafe approval (this is called ‘off label’) if they are prescribed by an authorised prescriber. A GP can decide whether to provide a prescription after a conversation about the benefits and risks. 
Anyone aged 16 or older, who has completed their primary course, is eligible for one booster at this stage.
Additional boosters are not currently part of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in New Zealand.
We’re currently considering who, if anyone, would be suitable for a second booster dose. Any decision to offer additional booster doses is likely to be made prior to winter 2022.
After a few months, your protection against the COVID-19 virus starts to drop away, and it’s particularly important that you have the booster dose to protect you against this new Omicron variant.
Two doses was good for Delta, but Omicron needs three.
Boosters lower your chances of getting very sick from COVID-19 and ending up in hospital. 
The Pfizer vaccine provides really good protection from getting really unwell with COVID-19 or dying from it.
It was really important to be fully vaccinated before, and when, we had our Delta outbreak, but what we know now is that after a few months, your protection against the COVID-19 virus starts to drop away, and it’s particularly important that you have the booster dose to protect you against this new Omicron variant.
Two was good for Delta, but Omicron needs three.
And here’s the thing, we’ve got Omicron in the community now, and we need you to be boosted before it comes to your community. So as soon as you’re eligible – (that’s three months after your second dose), go out and get vaccinated straight away to protect you, to protect your whānau, and to protect your community.
Dr Ashley Bloomfield explains that with Omicron in the community, getting a COVID-19 booster is the best thing you can do to protect you and your whānau.
Why is a booster needed?
[Dr Lily] So I understand that some people are feeling frustrated that they’ve already had two vaccines and now we’re asking you to also get the booster.
For omicron the booster is really important, because over time our immunity does wane, and so by having the booster it brings it back up again to give your body the best chance to be protected against Omicron.
How effective is the booster dose?
[Dr Siouxsie] The data is really clear from lots of countries overseas, that people who have had that third booster dose are more protected against Omicron than if they don’t have it.
They’re more protected from getting infection, they’re more protected from hospitalisation, and they’re more protected from dying from the disease.
Does it still take two weeks to become fully protected?
[Dr Api] It is probably going to be at your maximum after two weeks, but because you’ve already got some immunity there from your first two doses, the booster shot works much faster at pushing your immunity up.
Is it likely we will need more doses in the future?
[Dr Api] Researchers are continuing to look at the COVID-19 virus, but unfortunately it’s like gazing into a crystal ball.
Viruses do mutate. And so if it becomes obvious that we will need another booster shot, the researchers will find that out for us, make sure they test the vaccines to check for its safety, before they recommend it.
How is Omicron different to Delta?
[Dr Siouxsie] The reason Omicron appears mild is because doctors have got a lot better at treating COVID-19.
We now have antivirals available and we have a lot of people who’ve either around the world been infected before, so have some immunity, or have been vaccinated.
This is not a disease that you want to get we should be trying to avoid it.
We definitely see protection if you’ve had that third dose.
So it’s really really important that people get it.
What we also know is that because this variant is so infectious, even if there are less hospitalisations, there are still relatively more – and that’s led to an overwhelming of healthcare systems overseas.
Is the booster the same as the previous doses?
[Dr Anthony] So, it’s the same dose, it’s 30 micrograms, same volume.
For those of us that get it again it’ll look pretty much the same as what you remember last time.
Really importantly though, it doesn’t give you any more side effects than your dose two.
I know a lot of people have said, oh, am I gonna feel more side effects after a third dose?
That gap is quite important in terms of reducing your side effects.
Why is the booster now given three months after the second dose?
[Dr Anthony] We need to remember that that dose interval that went from four months to three months has been studied to make sure that it gives you good protection.
So once we see the levels starting to drop down, If we can get that booster in there as soon as possible, it lifts your protection back up again.
And that’s why we’ve seen that interval for the booster dose come back to three months.
 
Dr Lily Fraser, Dr Siouxsie Wiles, Dr Api Talemaitoga, and Dr Anthony Jordan answer your questions about the COVID-19 booster.
You can get a booster dose the same way you got your previous COVID-19 vaccinations – including walk-in sites and drive-throughs.
You can book an appointment for a booster dose through Book My Vaccine or by calling the COVID Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week).
Recommended timing gaps for different COVID-19 vaccines
You don’t need to have a booster dose to be ‘fully vaccinated’ to get a My Vaccine Pass or an International Travel Vaccination Certificate.
However, if you do get a booster dose, it will be added to My Covid Record, and you can create another pass or International Travel Vaccination Certificate if you want to.
If you need proof of your booster, you can download a copy of your vaccination record through My Covid Record. This document can be used for employment purposes and used alongside an International Travel Certificate.
My Covid Record
You may experience some side effects, similar to those you might’ve had after the first or second dose, such as muscle aches, pain at the injection site or headaches.
For most people these are mild effects. They are a sign your body’s immune system is learning to fight the virus. They don’t last long and for many people do not impact on day-to-day activities.
Rare side effects of the Pfizer vaccine
If you have a booster, you may be invited by text to let us know about any side effects experienced – this is called a ‘Post Vaccine Symptom Check’.
The text invite will come from the Ministry of Health and you’ll be asked to reply ‘YES’, ‘NO’, or ‘STOP’. All replies are free of charge.
If you want to take part you’ll be sent a link to an online web form.
Page last updated: 07 April 2022

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