Booster interval reduced to three months

A million more New Zealanders over 18 will be eligible for their booster from this Friday, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.

“Cabinet has considered advice from the Director-General of Health and the COVID-19 Vaccine Technical Advisory Group and decided to reduce the interval between a person’s primary vaccination course and the booster from 4 months to 3 months – starting this Friday 4 February,” Chris Hipkins said.

“This is a significant step in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic as it now means a total of 3,063,823 people aged 18 and over – two thirds of our population – will be eligible for their booster from this weekend. Over 1.3 million people have already got theirs.

“I urge every New Zealander who is eligible for a booster to get it as soon as possible. We are in a race against Omicron and the more people who are boosted the more we can reduce the impact of the outbreak.

“Bringing forward the booster timing will help those who have been immunised more recently. It will mean more people, especially Māori, will be able to receive a booster before Omicron takes hold in communities.

“Boosters lower your chances of getting very sick from the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and ending up in hospital. Fewer hospitalisations from COVID-19 will mean our health system can continue to provide the full range of care people need, in particular for our most vulnerable such as people with disabilities or long-term illnesses.

“It is also important to reduce impacts on other workforces such as those involved with the supply chain to ensure people have access to goods and services.

“New Zealand is in the top 10 most highly vaccinated countries in the OECD – 94 percent of us aged over 12 are fully vaccinated. That’s close to four million New Zealanders, over a quarter of which have now also had their booster shot.

“Now is our opportunity to build on that. We have given ourselves a head start that we cannot afford to give up.

“If you are over 18 and it is three months since you received your primary vaccination course, get your booster. There is excellent capacity this weekend and in the coming weeks and enough supply throughout Aotearoa for everyone.

“Thank you to our vaccination providers and staff across the country who are working the long weekend to ensure New Zealanders have options to access their booster dose, wherever they are,” Chris Hipkins said.

Notes for editors:

  • The shortened booster interval to 3 months only applies to the Pfizer vaccine. CV-TAG will provide separate advice on AstraZeneca later this month.
  • Everyone over 18 can check when they are due for a booster by visiting mycovidrecord.nz or if they have one, referring to their purple COVID-19 Vaccine appointment card or calling COVID Vaccination Healthline 0800 28 29 26 (8am - 8pm, 7 days a week).
  • Book your booster or find a walk-in vaccination centre at bookmyvaccine.nz or call COVID Vaccination Healthline 0800 28 29 26 (8am - 8pm, 7 days a week). Whānau bookings (group bookings for more than one person) can be made by calling 0800 28 29 26. 
  • COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be available at mobile and pop-up vaccination clinics, particularly in rural Māori communities as well as marae vaccinations where a number of kaumatua received their initial doses.
  • Interpretation services, and text, email and NZ Relay options for deaf and hearing impaired are available if you need them on 0800 28 29 26 (8am - 8pm, 7 days a week). There is also a specialist team for disabled people (option 2 on the 0800 number).