National welcomes booster changes

It’s good news that the Government has reduced the standard gap between the second dose and booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine from six months to four months, National’s COVID-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“National noted a week ago that Australia had gone to a five month gap and the United Kingdom had gone to three months, and called on the New Zealand Government to look at doing the same as a matter of urgency.

“The evidence is that a three dose regime of the Pfizer vaccine provides about the equivalent level of protection against Omicron as two doses does against Delta. So we need as many people to get booster vaccines as possible.

“I had my booster dose yesterday and I encourage everyone to go and get one as soon as they are eligible. The Government needs to quickly change up the tone and tempo of its advertising campaign – “two shots for summer” now needs to become “three shots over summer”.

“Why do people need to wait until early January before starting to book a booster after four months? The Book My Vaccine website should be updated immediately to allow people to book after four months.

“It’s important we quickly roll out boosters to everyone working at the border and on the frontline of our health workforce. It’s good news that half of eligible border workers have had a booster dose already.

“The roll-out of vaccination for 5-11 year olds is good news, but has been too slow. A real opportunity to get kids vaccinated in school-based settings before Christmas has been missed. Hundreds of millions of 5-11 year olds’ vaccines have been given worldwide but New Zealand has been slow to approve it and will now be slow to roll it out.

“The pushback of the partial opening of the border to Kiwis in Australia to the end of February is disappointing and will cause frustration for many people.

“National has pushed for vaccinated travellers to be subject to different rules to unvaccinated travellers, and for home isolation to be the default setting for people, rather than using the blunt instrument of MIQ.

“We acknowledge that in the difficult circumstances presented by Omicron, a short delay in ending MIQ to allow as many people to be boosted as possible is necessary, but we should not underestimate the suffering this will cause for many Kiwis offshore.

“The sooner we can return to the plan of allowing fully vaccinated travellers to enter New Zealand without entering MIQ, the better.”