Small bump in Covid vaccine uptake, but still well below 2021 peak

There has been a small bump in the number of people getting Covid-19 vaccines since the newest one arrived last month.

The most recent Pfizer formulation is designed to combat the latest Omicron variants.

Te Whatu Ora figures show just over 14,000 people were vaccinated in the week ending 15 March.

Most of them – 11,000 – were people getting a their third or subsequent booster.

The number is more than double the busiest week in February but tiny compared with the height of the rollout, when hundreds of thousands of people were vaccinated on some weeks.

Immunologist Helen Petoussis Harris said the lower overall uptake could be because people were not keeping up as much with the latest Covid developments, or vaccine fatigue could be playing a part.

“Also people … have just not got around to getting it,” she said.

Some people might be waiting until the flu vaccine was available so they could get both immunisations in one visit, she said.

Tuesday is the first day for this year’s funded flu jabs.

When the flu vaccine was rolled out last year, it coincided with a boost in Covid vaccinations – about 100,000 doses in one week last April.

Fewer people were allowed free flu jabs this year, with the government canning availablity for Māori and Pacific Island peoples aged between 55 and 64, and children between 5 and 12.

Petoussis-Harris said it was a mistake not to allow Māori and Pacific people to get their jab at 55, because they were far more likely than people of other ethnicities to get severe disease younger.

Those entitled to a free flu vaccine are: people over 65, people with some long-term medical or mental health conditions including asthma, diabetes and bipolar disorder, pregnant people, children aged four and under with a history of significant respiratory illness, and people using certain addiction services.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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