National | Novel Coronavirus / COVID-19

Changes to Covid eligibility in time for winter

A new bivalent booster against Covid-19 will be available to all All New Zealanders aged 30 from April, Health Minister Ayesha Verrall has confirmed.

The new bivalent vaccine will replace the existing Pfizer booster and is considered likely to be more effective against Omicron subvariants. Bivalent vaccines work by combining two strains of a virus, which prompts the body to create antibodies against both strains, providing a greater level of protection.

“People at higher risk of severe illness from Covid-19 will also be able to receive an additional booster, regardless of how many doses they’ve previously had," Verrall said.

While the changes come into effect in April, those currently eligible for a booster can also get the bivalent shot from March 1.

More booster choices are on their way.

“We know vaccination is the best protection against the virus, and these actions will provide added protection to a larger number of adult New Zealanders. Latest reporting from the Ministry of Health indicated 8,220 cases over the previous week, so the virus is definitely still circulating out there.

“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.

In both cases, the booster can only be given to those who have had two primary doses, and 6 months after the previous dose or positive covid-19 test. Verrals recommends people check their vaccination record.

“Getting boosted is important for your health and keeping out of hospital this winter,” Verrall said.