NZ should accelerate boosters

New Zealand should be seriously considering following the lead of the UK and Australia and bring forward booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine for New Zealand, National’s COVID-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“In recent days the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has recommended Covid-19 vaccine booster shots for adults who completed their first two doses five or more months ago.

“Last month the UK halved the gap for booster shots from six months to three months.

“Both the UK and Australia are doing this to guard against the Omicron variant. New Zealand should be looking to quickly follow the lead of Australia and the UK and do the same.

“The emerging evidence is that there is a reduction in antibodies that fight Omicron in people who have just two doses of Pfizer, whereas a third dose restores protection to its full level.

“On top of that, is it now very clear that a booster dose on top of the initial two doses substantially boosts protection against Delta, which is still the dominant strain in New Zealand.

“After a slow start, New Zealand’s vaccination campaign has ramped up, and it is great to see our vaccination rate nearly at 90 per cent double dose, countrywide. Now we need leadership from the Government and its scientific advisers to explain the benefits of vaccine boosters and to encourage people to book them in as soon as they can.”