Vaccine providers ready for next round

Roslyn Pharmacy clinical manager Hannah Young with the equipment to deliver the Covid-19 booster....
Roslyn Pharmacy clinical manager Hannah Young with the equipment to deliver the Covid-19 booster. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Southern general practices are ready to dispense Covid-19 boosters and influenza vaccinations after the Government yesterday authorised expanded criteria for each injection.

The age criteria for a second Covid-19 booster is being lowered to 50, and children aged 3-12 will soon be eligible for a free flu vaccination.

Although the peak of the Omicron outbreak has passed, several thousand New Zealanders every day are still being infected with Covid-19.

Yesterday, 434 southerners and 5549 people nationally were reported as new community cases of the disease.

Hospitals and GP clinics are struggling to deal with those cases, as well as a high number of cases of influenza and other winter ailments.

"The combination of Omicron and flu is making this winter more challenging than normal," Covid-19 Response Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall said.

"The best thing New Zealanders can do to ensure they and their families don’t end up in hospital is to be up-to-date with their flu and Covid-19 vaccinations and boosters."

WellSouth chief executive Andrew Swanson-Dobbs said the eligibility criteria changed this Friday, which gave general practices and pharmacies time to gear up to meet expected demand.

"GPs will hopefully be able to take up the expected increase in workload from boosters being made more widely available," he said.

Mr Swanson-Dobbs did not think there would need to be a return to mass vaccination centres, but did note that the recently opened Dunedin Immunisation Centre-Te Puna Araimate ki Otepoti meant there was extra vaccination capacity in the city.

Roslyn Pharmacy owner Andrew Hou said pharmacies had been expecting the announcement for several weeks and were pleased and relieved that the waiting was over.

The pharmacy had both a number of qualified vaccinators and ample supplies of each vaccine so should be able to cater to demand, he said.

The pharmacy also runs several outreach vaccination programmes, including for local aged residential care facilities, and would offer the expanded vaccination schedule to clients outside the pharmacy as well.

"It will place added pressure and a greater workload on the team but we should be able to manage."

People who have had

Covid-19 are advised to delay their next scheduled Covid-19 vaccination for three months, but those people do not need to defer their flu vaccination.

Dr Verrall said the Ministry of Health’s Covid-19 vaccine technical advisory group would continue to review new information on Covid-19 and vaccines, and would make further recommendations on eligibility criteria as necessary.

 

Vaccine Extensions

 

FREE COVID-19 BOOSTER. WHO IS NEWLY ELIGIBLE?

Everyone over the age of 50.

People who are severely immunocompromised.

Health, aged-care and disability workers over the age of 30.

 

FREE COVID-19 BOOSTER. WHO IS ALREADY ELIGIBLE?

People aged 65 years and over.

Maori and Pacific people aged 50 years and over.

Aged-care and disability-care facility residents.

People aged 16 years and over with serious medical conditions.

Disabled people aged 16 years and over with significant or complex health needs.

 

FREE INFLUENZA VACCINE. WHO IS NEWLY ELIGIBLE?

Children aged 3-12 years.

People with serious mental health or addiction needs.

 

FREE INFLUENZA VACCINE. WHO IS ALREADY ELIGIBLE?

Everyone over the age of 65.

Maori and Pacific people aged 55 and over.

Pregnant people.

People with underlying health issues like asthma, diabetes and heart disease.

 

--  mike.houlahan@odt.co.nz, Health Reporter

 

 

 

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