We have three National Immunisation Programme updates to draw your attention to today: two new COVID-19 vaccination changes being implemented from tomorrow (22 September 2022), and a reminder about the change to vaccination mandates for healthcare workers.
Please share this information with your networks as appropriate.
Extension of Novavax primary doses down to 12 years (currently 18 years)
· From 22 September people aged 12 and over can now receive a primary course of the Novavax (Nuvaxovid) COVID-19 vaccine (a primary course is generally 2 doses).
· The extension to those aged 12 years to 17 years (inclusive) is only for a primary course, not boosters. Novavax is only available as a booster for those aged 18 years and above.
· The Pfizer vaccine is the preferred vaccine being used in New Zealand; however, the addition of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine provides additional choice for 12- to 17-year-olds who have yet to be vaccinated.
· The interval between doses of the primary course is a minimum interval of 3 weeks (same as for Pfizer).
· A prescription will still be required for a second primary dose of Novavax if the first dose was Pfizer. You can get a prescription at a vaccination clinic offering Novavax or prior to your appointment with your preferred GP. Visits to a GP for a Novavax prescription are free.
· Novavax is only available at select vaccination sites.
· Bookings can be made through BookMyVaccine. If you select Novavax, the site will show a list of vaccination centres where Novavax can be given.
Aging-In – minor change for children turning 12
- From 22 September children aged 5-11 would still get a paediatric dose as their first dose, but if they turn 12 before their second dose, they will now receive the adult dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
· An8-week gap is recommended between the paediatric and adult doses.
· This change only affects those who turn 12 between receiving their first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Children under 12 are still only eligible for paediatric doses.
· Children aged 12 and over can receive either Pfizer or Novavax, but a prescription is needed for Novavax. Only Pfizer paediatric doses are available for children aged under 12.
· This change is particularly important for those children with complex health issues or immunocompromised, who are at higher risk from COVID-19, to ensure they are fully protected with vaccine doses appropriate for their age.
Revocation of Health and Disability Vaccination Mandate
As announced by the Government on Monday 12 September, the COVID-19 protection framework has been ‘retired’. Of relevance to you is the revocation of the vaccination mandate for the health and disability sector workers (which includes workers in aged care and residential) – that will take effect next week at 11.59pm, Monday 26 September.
The mandate was introduced to protect workers in high-risk settings from COVID-19 and help prevent transmission between workers and vulnerable people. The mandate is no longer needed now the affected workforce has a very high vaccination rate (estimated to be greater than 95 percent), and vaccination has a reduced overall efficacy against Omicron transmission.
The revocation of the order applies to the remaining health and disability workers in the following settings:
- Health practitioners dealing with patients in person, such as doctors, nurses and dentists
- Workers in medical centres/GP practices, pharmacies (such as receptionists or assistants)
- Workers employed or engaged by certified providers – which includes hospitals, rest homes, or residential disability care facilities
- Care and support workers – workers employed or engaged to provide care and support services within a home or place of residence.
All exemptions previously granted will expire at 11:59pm on 26 September. This includes both Temporary Medical Exemptions and Temporary Serious Service Disruption Exemptions. No exemption applications will be accepted after 11:59pm on 26 September.
Some businesses and organisations may choose to continue COVID-19 vaccination requirements through employment contracts – for example, the Te Whatu Ora active vaccination policies across each of the districts and entities will remain in place until a national policy has been agreed. Guidance on employment law, health and safety law and contractual requirements can be found: