Narrow criteria for second Covid booster draws critics

Source: 1News

Aotearoa’s vaccine drive has gone from a stroll to sprint, with the second Covid-19 booster due to roll out soon, but only for those most at risk.

On Wednesday, Parliament passed a law change allowing the fourth dose of the Pfizer vaccine to be given without a prescription.

But while the details of those eligible haven't been finalised, it's been proposed for those over 65, Māori and Pasifika over 50, people living in rest homes and disability facilities, and the severely immunocompromised.

Director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre, Professor Nikki Turner, says the latest jab is aimed at people that did not respond well to the first booster and may have waning immunity.

"The first booster is the most important but the second booster has significant extra gain, particularly for older people and people with immune problems."

READ MORE: Second Covid booster available soon for vulnerable

Data from the US show for those over 50, the effectiveness of two doses plus a booster dropped from 93% to 84% after six months.

But for those who are immunocompromised, it fell to about 50% in the same period.

Under the proposed criteria, 850,000 people would be eligible for the vaccine.

But critics say the target is too narrow.

“We know disabled people have poor health outcomes so it would make sense if disabled people widely were able to access something like this and have the choice about whether they want something for them or not,” Disabled Persons Assembly chief executive Prudence Walker said.

Pasifika health leaders also want the criteria widened.

John Fiso of Pacific Health Plus says the community experienced a higher number of deaths during the pandemic.

"If you look at hospitalisation rates the Pacific have had the highest level, 27%."

The Government is expected to finalise who will be eligible for a second booster on Thursday.