Taranaki people are jumping at the chance to have booster shot earlier than planned with around 15,000 shots predicted to be administered by the end of this week.
A Government announcement before Christmas reduced the time from six months to four months between receiving a second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and the booster, meaning the number of people eligible for a booster shot in January almost doubled.
Vaccination clinics reopened after the Christmas break on January 5 and were immediately busy as people took the opportunity to increase their immunity by getting their booster shot.
With the current demand standing at around 1000 booster doses daily, Bevan Clayton- Smith, senior responsible officer for the Taranaki Covid-19 Vaccination programme, is confident that 15,000 doses could be exceeded by the end of the week.
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"The response from Taranaki people in coming in to get their booster shot has been phenomenal, which is great when it comes to building and maintaining the level of protection in the region against the Covid-19 virus, particularly Omicron, which is the most transmissible strain yet. We have already given booster shots to more than 10 per cent of the population who will be due for one over the next six months."
Currently, people are only able to book their booster appointment through the Book My Vaccine site if it has been six months since their second dose, while walk-in clinics have been able to accept people with a gap of four months or more. Current walk-in waiting times have been about 30 minutes as a result. From Monday, January 17 the four-month-cut-off will come into effect for Book My Vaccine as well, meaning from then anyone eligible for a booster shot can book their appointment through the site.
"It is going to be a very busy first few months for our vaccination teams, Māori health providers, GP clinics and community pharmacies, but I know that everyone involved in the programme is up for the challenge," says Bevan.
"In Taranaki we have been able to keep the virus under control, but there are no guarantees that this will continue, especially with new strains coming out. Our best defence is maintaining our level of protection so that as a community we slow the rate of
transmission down and help to stop people needing hospital treatment if they do get sick."