New Zealand officials announced Wednesday the shortened gap between second and third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from four months to three.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the shorter interval would mean a million more New Zealanders would be eligible for their booster shot.
Ministry of Health Chief Science Advisor Ian Town said bringing it forward to three months, which had been done in the UK and in many Australian states, meant New Zealand could get the level of antibodies high before the Omicron variant peaks in the country.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins also said that more people, especially Māori, could receive a booster before Omicron took hold.
“It now means a total of 3,063,823 people aged 18 and over – two-thirds of our population – will be eligible for their booster from this weekend,” Hipkins said.
“We have given ourselves a head start that we cannot afford to give up,” Hipkins added.
Ardern said 94 percent of New Zealanders over 12 years old were fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the impact of waning protection over time from the vaccine had been seen.
“The good news is that there is clear evidence with that booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine, that people’s protection goes back up to a similar level to what it was for Delta with two doses, and that is well over 90 percent protection against hospitalization or serious illness,” Bloomfield said.
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