22 Oct 2021

Third Covid-19 vaccination dose now available for some

3:26 pm on 22 October 2021

Doctors can now prescribe a third vaccination dose against Covid-19 to some immunocompromised New Zealanders.

A photo shows Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine bottles at the Emile Muller hospital in Mulhouse, eastern France, on January 8, 2021.

Photo: AFP

Ministry of Health Covid-19 vaccination programme director Jo Gibbs said the third dose is for severely immunocompromised people who fit a "complex" set of criteria, and have a prescription for it from their GP or specialist. They must be 12 years old or older.

A third dose is different to getting a booster vaccination dose against Covid-19, which is not yet available in New Zealand.

It was recommended by the Ministry's Covid-19 Technical Advisory Group, after "carefully reviewed a number of studies," Gibbs said.

"Individuals who are severely immunocompromised are at a higher risk of severe outcomes from Covid-19, and might not produce a sufficiently strong immune response after two doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.

"A third primary dose may be beneficial, and can be administered at least eight weeks after the second dose."

Gibbs said the people in this group of the population are particularly vulnerable to the Covid-19 virus, and it was important all of their close contacts and household contacts get their own two doses of the vaccine, to act as 'indirect protection'.

The Ministry expects a recommendation to be made on booster vaccinations "in the coming months" by the Covid-19 Technical Advisory Group.

It said Medsafe must also complete an assessment, and the agency was currently awaiting more data from Pfizer.

After those reviews are completed Cabinet will make the final decision on if booster vaccinations would be made available.

More details about who can access the third Covid-19 dose, and how, is available here.

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