Fully vaccinated New Zealanders over the age of 18 will be able to get a booster six months after their second dose of the Pfizer jab, Justin Giovannetti writes in The Bulletin.
The boosters are coming. New Zealanders will begin getting third doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine from the end of November, Stuff reports. The booster will be available to anyone aged 18 and over who received their first two doses at least six months earlier. Healthcare and border workers will likely be first in line for a booster, many having received their first doses near the start of the year. While a third primary dose was approved in October for severely immunocompromised people, a third dose as a booster will be available for everyone. Nearly 456,000 New Zealanders will be eligible for the extra dose by the end of the year, with millions more to follow in 2022.
The argument about third doses. There’s been a debate for much of 2021 about whether booster shots should be a priority. Both the European Union and World Health Organisation have voiced concerns about giving third doses in rich countries while billions around the world have yet to have a first dose. The Lancet has looked at the debate. One finding is that manufacturers are now producing 1.5 billion doses monthly, so the global population could (or at least should) be quickly immunised.
New Zealand has now come out strongly in favour of boosters, with prime minister Jacinda Ardern saying yesterday that “boosters are a belt and braces approach,” not a nice to have. Preliminary trials have shown that while the Pfizer jab’s effectiveness wanes over time, a booster shot brings it back up to 95.6%, according to the Financial Times.
When should you go for a booster? Because the Pfizer jab continues to protect people even after six months, the government says there will be “no rush” to get a booster immediately when you’re eligible. With most New Zealanders likely to get a booster next year, it’s probably best to wait before booking. The country’s Covid-19 situation is likely to look very different by then. As The Atlantic writes, boosters should be timed to coincide with when you’re most likely to be exposed to the virus. “The dynamics of transmission in your area may be more important than the details of your personal vaccine schedule,” according to the magazine.
If you haven’t had your first vaccine, there’s still time to be protected by Christmas. One News did the maths and people have until this Friday to get their first dose if they want to be fully vaccinated by Christmas. It’s also likely the country will be in the traffic light system at that point, which has serious restrictions on the unvaccinated. It could mean a much safer holiday for many, with the chance of infection reduced by 200 times if two people interacting are fully vaccinated.
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