16, 17-year-olds can get Covid booster shot from Thursday

Source: 1News

Sixteen and 17-year-olds will be eligible for a Pfizer Covid-19 booster vaccination from Thursday.

Covid-19 vaccination centre in The Cloud, Auckland.

The Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed the detail on Wednesday afternoon, and said it came after Medsafe provisionally approved the booster dose for the age group.

From Thursday, 16- and 17-year-olds can get the doses by visiting a walk-in vaccination centre. However, bookings through Book My Vaccine would only be available from April 14.

That meant an additional 36,000 young people could be getting their third doses, Hipkins said.

Currently, only people aged over 18 were able to receive a booster.

“A booster dose is particularly recommended for 16- and 17-year-olds who’re at higher risk of severe Covid-19 symptoms and hospitalisation.

"This includes those who’re immunocompromised or living with a family member who is immunocompromised, and Māori and Pacific rangatahi."

An estimated 72.7% of the population aged over 18 had already received a booster dose.

Studies overseas have shown booster shots of Pfizer were highly effective at preventing Omicron variant-related hospitalisations.

People who had contracted Covid-19 before getting their third dose have to wait three months before getting a booster.

Was it too late?

The widening of eligibility for boosters to more age groups comes after Covid-19 spread widely across universities and halls of residence.

When asked by 1News if the approval of boosters for younger people came too late, Hipkins said people under 18 had already had the opportunity to get a booster on prescription.

He added that Medsafe needed time to assess the evidence from Pfizer.

"We want the process around approvals to be robust."