With Omicron in the community, it’s vital we all do our bit to help to slow the spread, keep each other safe and protect our health system. One of the most important ways we can reduce the risk of Omicron is to get a booster dose as soon as we’re eligible.
We’ve seen the impact Omicron has had overseas. Many countries are grappling with soaring cases, supply-chain disruption, overloaded hospitals, and new restrictions to try combat widespread transmission.
We know that here in New Zealand, we’re likely to see many more cases than we have previously, but we’re in a good position to take on this new variant. Our border controls have slowed Omicron’s arrival, giving us time to get as prepared as possible and learn from other countries’ experiences, including being able to see the impact boosters can have.
Most other countries have had to get boosted in the middle of their outbreaks. Our plan has given us a head start. More than one million New Zealanders have received their booster shot so far, and many more people will become eligible in the coming weeks, before cases are expected to spike.
This gives us an advantage as we take on Omicron. The latest data shows that a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can provide better protection against this new variant, which is why it’s so important that everyone gets their booster as soon as they are able to.
From Friday 4 February, if you’re 18 and over and had your second dose at least three months ago, you can get your booster dose. You can book it now, or find your nearest walk-in or drive-through clinic, by visiting BookMyVaccine.nz or by calling 0800 28 29 26.
Now we’re expecting community spread, having a highly boosted population will be a key way of ensuring our health system can manage. Most of our vaccinated population will be eligible for a booster dose by the end of February – meaning they’ll be less likely to get seriously ill or end up in hospital with COVID-19 and helping to take the pressure off our health system.
All children aged 5 to 11 can also now be vaccinated – and we encourage parents and caregivers to seek out information to help you make that important decision. Giving kids the protection of the vaccine is a great way to keep tamariki as safe as possible, while also minimising their likelihood of passing COVID on to vulnerable whānau.
Of course, masking up, scanning in, using your vaccine pass and keeping a safe distance remain some of the most important ways we can take care of each other. At the Red setting of the traffic light system, these behaviours become even more essential: masks are required in more places and you’re encouraged to wear one whenever you’re outside your home.
You can also prepare for Omicron by making a plan, including making sure your household has a buddy who can deliver things you might need if you do get sick. You can find handy resources to help you get ready for this new phase on the Unite Against Covid-19 website.
Over the past two years, our response to COVID-19 has saved lives and livelihoods. We have some of the lowest rates of cases, hospitalisations, and deaths in the OECD. Our economy is performing better than expected, with a relatively robust GDP, historically low unemployment, and strong demand for our exports. The December quarter saw a historic drop in the number of people receiving a main benefit, showing our efforts to get Kiwis into meaningful work are paying off.
Now, we’re continuing our strategy to minimise and protect, as we move forward with our plan to take on Omicron. As in earlier stages of our COVID response, this new phase will take a team effort. To do our bit to limit the threat of Omicron, there’s one thing we can all undertake as soon as possible: get boosted.
Unite Against COVID-19 is a great source of information about Aotearoa’s COVID response. You can also read more about our plan to protect Kiwis from Omicron here.
Note: This post was updated on 2 February 2022 to reflect the reduced gap between the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine and the booster dose.