COVID-19 vaccine: Severely immunocompromised people

Information for severely immunocompromised people including how to access a third primary dose and timings for getting a booster.

Last updated: 5 May 2022

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A third primary dose of the child Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is now available for tamariki aged 5 to 11 years old who are severely immunocompromised.

Criteria for ‘severely immunocompromised’

If you’re severely immunocompromised you have a higher risk of getting serious infection from COVID-19.

You can be severely immunocompromised:

  • by having a medical condition causing immunodeficiency, or
  • through medicines used to treat a range of conditions

View the eligibility criteria on page 6 (PDF, 229 KB)

Chat to your healthcare provider if you’re unsure if you qualify.

As well as keeping up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations, encourage your family and the people you live with to also get vaccinated.

You should discuss the timing of any COVID-19 vaccinations with your doctor or specialist.


Third primary dose

Most people receive two primary doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. But those who are severely immunocompromised might not produce a sufficiently strong immune response after two doses, so a third primary dose is recommended for ages 5 and over if they meet the criteria for ‘severely immunocompromised’.

When to get a third primary dose

For ages 5 and over, third primary doses should be given at least 8 weeks after the second dose.

They can be given from 4 weeks if advised by your health care provider – this may be because of current or planned immunosuppressive therapies.

How to get a third primary dose

If you think you qualify for a third primary dose, schedule an appointment with your usual health care provider. They will need to provide you with a prescription and consent form.

You might be able to receive the third primary dose at the same time as your consultation – check with your medical practitioner to see if they offer the COVID-19 vaccine.

If your prescribing clinician doesn’t offer COVID-19 vaccination, you can take the prescription and consent form to any vaccination clinic, including a vaccinating pharmacy.

Appointments for a third primary dose are free.


Timings for a booster after a third primary dose

Boosters are strongly recommended for ages 16 and over after a third primary dose. Having a booster as well as your 3-dose primary course will give you the best protection against COVID-19.

The gap between a third primary dose and a booster differs depending on age, clinical circumstances and what type of COVID-19 vaccine you’re getting.

Prescriptions are not needed for ages 16 and over getting the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Third primary dose 

Booster 

Minimum gap

Age

Pfizer 

Pfizer 

6 months

16 or 17

Pfizer 

Pfizer 

3 months 

18 and over

AstraZeneca 

AstraZeneca 

3 months 
Prescription needed 

18 and over

Pfizer 

AstraZeneca 

3 months  
Prescription needed 

18 and over

All other combinations 

3 months 
Prescription might be needed – discuss with your GP or healthcare provider

Boosters for ages 12 to 15

People under the age of 16 are not eligible for a booster.

A booster dose may be considered for those aged 12 to 15-years-old who are at higher risk of severe COVID-19, in consultation with their healthcare provider 

Schedule an appointment with your usual health care provider if you think a child in your care would qualify. They will need to provide a prescription and consent form.

Healthcare providers may seek additional clinical support from IMAC and/or from the consumers Hospital Specialist regarding a booster in this age group.

If a booster is prescribed for ages 12 to 15, this can be given from 3 to 6 months after completing the primary course.


Additional boosters

Most people are well protected against becoming very sick from COVID-19 if they’ve had two doses, plus a booster if they’re eligible.

A second booster dose may be beneficial for those most at risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

We’re currently working through eligibility criteria for a second booster, and how long after the first booster it would be given.

We will provide further updates as decisions are made.

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