Coronavirus: Ministry of Health wants New Zealanders to shorten gap between vaccines to stay protected

The Ministry of Health is urging New Zealanders to consider shortening the gap between their first and second doses of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine to ensure more people can be fully vaccinated.

In August, the recommended gap between the doses was extended from three weeks to six weeks so more people could have the chance to get at least partially vaccinated. But now as dozens of new daily cases continue to be announced, Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay says Kiwis could look to bring their second vaccine forward so there's only a three-week gap between doses.

"That's because we need to protect ourselves, our whanau, and our communities. We need as many as possible to have their first dose to be partially protected, but we also need all those people to be fully vaccinated with two doses as soon as possible," she said during Wednesday's COVID-19 update.

"By enabling people to have that second dose sooner, but after at least three weeks, more people can be fully vaccinated sooner and hence increase our community immunity."

Information on how to reschedule your vaccine appointment can be found here.

Chris Hipkins.
Chris Hipkins. Photo credit: Getty Images

Minister for COVID-19 Response Chris Hipkins says getting vaccinated is the "most powerful weapon" in New Zealand's fight against the virus.

"Vaccines reduce the risk of getting COVID-19, they reduce the risk of getting really sick if you do, and they reduce the rate of transmission," he says.

"They're safe, we've got plenty of them, and everyone over the age of 12 can now get them."

Fifty percent of the eligible population, or 2,105,686 people, are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. A total of 3,361,425 people, or 80 percent of those eligible, have had their first dose.