COVID-19: Kiwis can move second Pfizer vaccine forward if they want - PM Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Kiwis can move their second vaccination appointment forward if they don't want to wait the full six weeks in between doses. 

In August, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield extended the standard time between the first and second dose of the Pfizer vaccine to six weeks. 

Bloomfield said at the time the gap was increased to allow more people to get their first dose. 

"Moving to a longer gap allows us to give a first dose to a larger number of people faster, which means providing more people with partial protection sooner," he said.

"Early findings from a small number of well-designed studies show that an extended duration between doses of the Pfizer vaccine gives at least an equally robust immune response, with no additional safety concerns.

"This new guidance is in line with other international programmes using the Pfizer vaccine...The larger interval is also consistent with the advice from the COVID Technical Advisory Group (CVTAG) for an extended interval between doses.

"I do want to reassure people that if you have already been fully vaccinated with two doses less than six weeks apart, as we have been doing, you will have very strong protection against the virus and do not need to doubt that."

Speaking with The AM Show on Monday, Ardern agreed, saying anyone who wants to move their second dose forward can. She said having a shorter period in between doses will still offer strong protection against COVID.

"I would say to anyone who has for instance had their first dose and wants to speed up their second dose, they can do that. 

"Yes, of course, some time ago we put in a six-week protocol and look if people want to stick with that, that is their prerogative but there's nothing wrong equally with people shortening that period if people want to hasten it, there's no problem with that." 

The Prime Minister also reiterated the importance of high vaccination rates before alert levels can drop. It comes after two new cases were discovered in the Waikato on Sunday with one in Raglan and the other in Hamilton. As a result, parts of the Waikato including Raglan and Hamilton city plunged back into alert level 3 for at least five days. Auckland, which is also in level 3, is set to find out whether it will be shifting alert levels today but experts have warned it's very unlikely. 

Epidemiologist Michael Baker told The AM Show on Monday the chances of Auckland shifting down an alert level are "very low". 

He said the best way out of restrictions is high vaccine rates and urged Kiwis to get the jab and not get complacent. 

"I think everyone in New Zealand should expect that there is a risk that the virus has seeded into their communities and that's why the rest of the country is at alert level 2, why people should be wearing masks in indoor environments, scanning in and the big one, of course, is getting vaccinated."