New Zealanders over 30yo able to receive COVID-19 bivalent booster, Government announces

Health Minister Ayesha Verrall has announced a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine - which includes protection against Omicron - will be made available to people over 30.

Bivalent vaccines use components of two strains of a virus - in this case the original strain of COVID-19, and Omicron.

From April 1, those aged 30 and up who have not had a booster or positive COVID-19 test in the past six months will be eligible for the new Pfizer shot, which will replace the old vaccine.

They will be able to start booking from late March through the bookmyvaccine website, on 0800 28 29 26, or through their primary care provider.

People currently eligible for a booster would be able to get the new vaccine from March 1.

Verrall said people at higher risk of severe illness would also be eligible for an additional booster, regardless of how many doses they had previously.

High risk groups include:

  • People aged 65+
  • Māori and Pacific people aged 50+
  • Aged care and disability care residents
  • Severely immunocompromised people
  • People aged 16+ with a medical condition that increases the risk of severe breakthrough COVID-19 illness, or who have a disability with significant or complex health needs or multiple comorbidities

"These actions will provide added protection to a larger number of adult New Zealanders," Verrall said. "Latest reporting from the Ministry of Health indicated 8220 cases over the previous week so the virus is definitely still circulating out there.

She said vaccination was the best protection against COVID-19, and the government planned to offer the new vaccine alongside flu shots for older people.

"We're also planning for older New Zealanders and those most at risk of getting sick to get a flu jab at the same time as their Covid-19 booster. This will be part of a 'one and done' approach to help people stay well this winter."