More free flu vaccines and a second COVID-19 booster to groups at risk of hospitalisation

The Government is ramping up access to free flu vaccines and COVID-19 booster shots.
  • The Government has widened access to free flu vaccines with an extra 800,000 New Zealanders eligible from Friday, July 1 2022.
  • Children aged 3-12 years and people with serious mental health or addiction needs are now eligible for a free flu vaccine.
  • From 28 June 2022, a second COVID-19 booster will be available 6 months after the first booster for older New Zealanders and other groups.

Who is eligible for a second COVID-19 booster

A second COVID-19 booster is available for:

  • everyone over the age of 50 and recommended for anyone over the age of 65
  • Māori and Pacific Peoples older than 50
  • people who are severely immunocompromised
  • health, aged-care and disability workers over the age of 30.

For those not at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, a two-dose primary course and one booster continues to provide very good protection. So, for those who haven’t had a first booster, please act now.

The second booster dose should be offered 6 months after the previous dose, and postponed for 3 months after a COVID-19 infection.

A second booster dose is not recommended for anyone who is pregnant and is healthy, including those with no underlying health conditions which could increase the risk of severe COVID-19.

Staying up-to-date with the recommended COVID-19 vaccinations will continue to protect you from the risk of serious illness, hospitalisation or death.

The Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Technical Advisory Group will continue to review new information on COVID-19 and vaccines and will make further recommendations on eligibility criteria as necessary.

The combination of Omicron and flu is making this winter more challenging than normal. 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.

How to book a second booster

Anyone who is eligible for a second booster can get one without a prescription from a range of places, including:

More New Zealanders are eligible for free flu vaccines

The Government is ramping up access to free flu vaccines and COVID-19 booster shots for those groups of people who are being admitted in increasing numbers to hospital.

We are making free flu shots available to another 800,000 New Zealanders, including children, more of whom are having to go to hospital.

Free flu shots are already available for everyone over the age of 65 and those at risk of becoming seriously ill or who have underlying conditions.

This season we ordered 40% more vaccines. We have already seen more than 1 million New Zealanders get a flu shot, but with significant pressure on our health system we’re ramping up efforts to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

In recent weeks we have seen a number of pre-school children hospitalised with the flu. We also know children can be transmitters of the flu to others in their family who are more at risk, so it makes sense to reduce transmission as much as we can.

We also know that people with serious mental health or addiction needs can get seriously sick from the flu, which is why we are also extending flu vaccinations to this group this year.

The extension of the free flu vaccination to more at-risk New Zealanders is just one of the actions we are taking to reduce pressure on our health system this winter.

Flu shots are available by booking with GPs or local pharmacies.

More information about the second COVID-19 booster

The second COVID-19 booster is available for everyone 50 years and older, and health, aged-care and disability-care workers over the age of 30 once six months has passed since a previous dose.

The second dose is recommended six months since their previous dose for:

  • People aged 65 years and over.
  • Māori and Pacific peoples aged 50 years and over.
  • Residents of aged-care and disability-care facilities.
  • Severely immunocompromised people who received a three-dose primary course and a fourth dose as a first booster (noting this would be a fifth dose for these people).
  • People aged 16 years and over who have a medical condition that increases the risk of severe breakthrough COVID-19 illness.
  • Disabled people aged 16 years and over with significant or complex health needs or multiple comorbidities that increase the risk of poor outcomes from COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccinations, including the second booster, can be booked through Book My Vaccine (external link) or by calling the COVID Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week). 

Find a walk-in vaccination centre near you

If you have COVID-19 recently, you should delay your next scheduled COVID-19 vaccination for 3 months, however there is no need to defer your flu vaccination.

 

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