NZ to offer second COVID-19 boosters

Ben McKayAAP
New Zealand's Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield has tested positive to COVID-19.
Camera IconNew Zealand's Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield has tested positive to COVID-19. Credit: AP

New Zealand will authorise a second booster shot for COVID-19, as the country's top doctor tests positive to the virus while overseas.

Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield has come down with coronavirus while attending the World Health Assembly in Switzerland.

A Ministry of Health spokesman said Mr Bloomfield is experiencing mild symptoms, and will delay his trip home while he isolates in Geneva.

On Friday, the ministry reported 350 people in NZ hospitals with COVID-19, and 25 deaths of people with the virus, taking overall pandemic fatalities in the country to 1127.

New Zealand's vaccination rates remain near global highs, with 96.3 per cent of Kiwis aged over 12 fully vaccinated and 70.6 per cent of those having received a booster shot.

With immunity waning in the first batch of those boosted, COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins has announced New Zealand will soon offer a second booster shot.

But the government will only offer the fourth dose to those "at high-risk of getting very sick" from the virus, six months after their first booster.

"A two-dose primary course and a booster dose provides very good and lasting protection, which is why we can be more targeted in the rollout of the second booster," Mr Hipkins said.

Several hundred thousand people will be eligible, including older Kiwis, aged and disability care residents and the severely immunocompromised.

The decision will exclude border workers and health professionals, two groups which have been prioritised in previous rollouts.

Administration of second boosters will begin next month.

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