Covid-19 boosters flatlining as case numbers surge across country – RNZ

Whangārei GP Dr Geoff Cunningham says there is some misplaced complacency about getting the booster shots. Photo: RNZ/ Katie Todd
Covid-19 booster rates are flatlining, even as case numbers surge in the country’s third wave.
Only 43 percent of people over 50 have had a second booster, despite being most at risk from the virus.
There were 8428 community cases reported yesterday, the highest daily number since July, with the Ministry of Health estimating more than double that number in reality.
But the rate people are getting their second booster has barely changed in the past few weeks.
In some areas, including parts of rural Northland, Bay of Plenty and Taranaki, the rate is closer to a quarter.
Whangārei GP Geoff Cunningham said there was some misplaced complacency out there, particularly about Omicron which could still be a very serious illness.
The second booster had also become harder to access than earlier shots because fewer GP clinics and pharmacies were offering it, Cunningham said.
That was because it was trickier to give with smaller numbers of people coming through – once a five-dose vial was opened, it had to be used quickly or it would go to waste.
It meant people had to look around to find where it was being offered, and that could be out of their way.
Cunningham said it was particularly challenging for rural communities – and health authorities should be stepping in to help.
“A little bit more advertising and also some vaccine clinics in some of these rural places is something that we need to be looking at especially as we see these Covid numbers really peaking up,” he said.
A lot of his patients were asking about the booster, he said.
“My advice is to get it. It is really important, especially with our older patients. It is certainly very protective for them, especially if they have a number of other medical conditions,” he said.
The highest rates of second booster uptake were in Maniototo and some parts of central Wellington which were in the early 80s.
Māori and Pacific patients over 40 had been able to access the second booster since November 18, but that data was not yet available.
Seventy three percent of those eligible for a first booster had has one.
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