Second COVID-19 vaccine booster for the most vulnerable

  • Second COVID-19 booster recommended for the most vulnerable 6 months after first booster
  • Several hundred thousand people will be eligible
  • Legislative change to enable rollout from mid-June

People who are at high-risk of getting very sick from a COVID-19 infection will soon be eligible to receive a second booster, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today.

This follows a recommendation from the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Technical Advisory Group that a second booster dose may be beneficial for those most at-risk of serious illness from COVID-19 and with a gap of six months from their previous booster. The vast majority of these people become eligible from July. 

“A booster is important for our most vulnerable as we move into the winter peak. Several hundred thousand people will be eligible, which includes our older population, residents of aged care facilities, disability care facilities aged 16 years and over, and severely immunocompromised people aged 16 years and over and who have received a three-dose primary course and a first booster.

“Final decisions on the make-up of this group will be made within the next two weeks. 

“The Government is working urgently to enable the second booster to be made available in the same way as the primary course and booster – that is, without needing to access a GP. This will be more equitable and make the roll-out to our at-risk groups more effective.

“We intend do this by amending the Medicines Act, and anticipate the new policy will be in effect from mid June, in good time for the vast majority of eligible people. 

“If you are eligible but have had COVID-19, you will need to wait at least 3 months after your infection before having an additional dose.

“Based on current advice, for those who are not at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, a two-dose primary course and a booster dose provides very good and lasting protection, which is why we can be more targeted in the rollout of the second booster.

“We know a booster helps reduce the chance of more serious infection, and it will be less likely that you need hospitalisation. And if you haven’t had your first booster yet, it is not too late to get it in time for the winter season.

“The Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Technical Advisory Group will continue to review new information on COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines and will make further recommendations if necessary,” Chris Hipkins said.