Where are the vaccine boosters?

Six weeks on from Dr Bloomfield saying discussions with Pfizer were at a “crucial stage” and six months on from the initial lot of border workers having their second jabs, Kiwis deserve to know what’s happening now with vaccine boosters, says National’s Covid Response spokesperson Chris Bishop.

“On August 22, Dr Ashley Bloomfield said ‘so we’re just finalising our discussions with Pfizer, and it’s at sort of a fairly crucial stage’. Since then there has been radio silence from the Government.

“The evidence is increasingly clear that vaccine effectiveness begins to wane after around five-six months. New Zealand started the vaccine rollout in February, so many frontline border workers will be approaching the six-month anniversary of their second jab.

“As is the case with vaccines generally, and now with Covid treatments, other countries are moving ahead of New Zealand.

“Israel initially offered a third booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine to those aged over 60 only, but has now extended this to everyone over the age of 12, if the third dose is at least five months after their second dose.

“On 23 September, the United States’ Food and Drug Administration authorised a third booster dose for those aged 65 and older, those most susceptible to severe disease, and those in jobs that put them at risk. The United Kingdom has taken a similar approach.

“The Prime Minister says that we will have enough stock left over from our current Pfizer order to use as boosters if required, but these stocks will quickly run out as more and more Kiwis become eligible for a third dose.

“National’s comprehensive Covid recovery plan, ‘Opening Up’, released last week, calls on the Government to finalise supply agreements with Pfizer for 2022, 2023 and beyond.

“New Zealand seems to be pinning its hopes on Novavax as a booster. Novavax has not been approved anywhere in the world yet, and it is not being tested as a booster. In other words, this is a risky strategy. A far better one is to order Pfizer boosters to preserve choices and options.

“The Government needs to get on with it.”

You can read National's full 'Opening Up' plan here.