6 Aug 2021

Government officials look at need for Covid-19 booster shots

4:36 pm on 6 August 2021

Covid-19 booster vaccines could be on the cards for New Zealanders.

The consent form for the Covid 19 vaccination at a facility in South Auckland

Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said officials are looking at the need for booster shots.

He said the Ministry of Health is talking to Pfizer about whether a booster is needed for possible waning immunity over time, but there is no suggestion that is happening.

Speaking at a GPs conference this morning in Wellington, Dr Bloomfield said we need to make sure we are in the market for an annual shot - similar to influenza vaccines - to target new strains of the virus.

He also confirmed health officials are looking at the science of extending the wait between jabs from three weeks for a stronger response.

Health Minister Andrew Little said there are signs overseas that a booster may be needed due to the Delta variant, and New Zealand must be ready.

He said the government will still support Pacific Island countries in the vaccination campaigns, while balancing the ethical decision of pursuing booster shots for New Zealanders.

But National's Covid-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop has described the government as irresponsible for failing to order extra Covid-19 vaccines to use as booster shots for the next few years.

He said the rest of the world is putting in orders for vaccines, while New Zealand is lagging behind.

Bishop said he could not understand the government's lack of urgency.

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