The pause on Covid-19 vaccinations has been lifted, and jabs have been back underway since 8am this morning.
Some – but not all – vaccination sites are up and running under alert level 4, but will likely process fewer people because of extra precautions around physical distancing.
That means some appointments may be postponed. Someone from the Ministry of Health, your local DHB or healthcare provider like a GP clinic will contact you if your appointment needs to be rescheduled.
Otherwise, you should attend their appointment as scheduled, making sure to wear a mask and to reschedule if you are unwell or have any cold or flu symptoms.
Arrangements at the vaccine centres means getting your vaccination will be safe, authorities say.
Some vaccination sites are closed. In greater Auckland, four vaccination centres are open today: Manurewa, Ōtara, Henderson and Westgate. Other sites will reopen in a phased approach. Almost all GP and all community pharmacies are providing Covid-19 vaccinations from today, Auckland DHB says.
The closure of some sites has created confusion. The Herald has been contacted by some readers who were frustrated after turning up for their vaccination, only to find the site closed. They weren’t contacted to say their booking would need to be postponed.
Who can book
Anyone aged 40 or over or who is in groups 1, 2 or 3 can book their vaccination now. Vaccination bookings for everyone else will open soon, in age bands from oldest to youngest.
When it’s your turn a booking invitation should be sent by the ministry or your health provider, but it isn’t necessary to wait for that.
Booking online – at bookmyvaccine.covid19.health.nz – is the fastest way to secure an appointment. People who aren’t yet eligible can register their details now, to make sure they get an invitation when it is time.
It should take about five minutes to book, but if there are problems or a booking can’t be made you can seek help by emailing [email protected] Bookings can also be made over the phone by calling 0800 28 29 26 from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week.
If possible have your NHI number ready – this number can be found on medical information such as a prescription, letter from a hospital or test result.
More information about the process, including a video showing how to make an online booking, and advice about scheduling a second dose, is available on the government’s Covid-19 vaccination website.
On Tuesday a daily record of more than 55,000 doses were administered, including over 35,000 first doses and 20,000 second doses.
In total, more than 2.61m doses have been administered to date, including 1.65m first doses and 954,000 second doses.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said the latest outbreak could help boost vaccination coverage in the longer term, saying, “I think from what we’ve seen in Australia, it has caused a bit of an uptick in take-up. We want to use the opportunity if we can to safely vaccinate people in the interim.”
Vaccination protects, but caution still needed
The Delta variant that has caused the latest outbreak in Auckland is thought to be about twice as transmissible as original variants of Covid-19.
Full vaccination provides a high degree of protection against Delta infection, and greater protection against severe illness, hospitalisation and death. According to the Ministry of Health, the effectiveness of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine against illness is about 88 per cent, and against hospitalisation is about 96 per cent.
However, “break-through” infections do happen, when a fully vaccinated person gets infected and transmits the virus to others. This is why health authorities are asking everyone to observe level 4 restrictions around physical distancing and mask wearing.
Other vaccinations continue under lockdown
Meanwhile, health providers have been urged to continue other vaccinations under level 4.
The Immunisation Advisory Centre has sent out a message advising General Practice and other services that they should still be delivering scheduled vaccinations.
“There was an unfortunate drop-off in immunisation uptake last year with the lock down and we are very keen to avoid this again,” the message reads. “Maintaining our vaccination coverage against all of the other vaccine-preventable diseases remains a vital step to help protect our communities from avoidable harm.”
Dr Nikki Turner, director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre, recently told the Herald that more resourcing for “very stretched” childhood immunisation services was urgently needed, to avoid the sort of measles outbreak seen in 2019, which put children in intensive care before spreading to Samoa and taking 83 lives.
“Childhood vaccination rates are diving in many countries which are disrupted by Covid. If we drop our immunisation coverage we are at high risk of measles when we ease up on the border restrictions.”
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