The government is not rescheduling immunizations after’speculation’ that a third Pfizer shot is needed.

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Despite expectations that people will need a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine within 12 months, New Zealand is not revising the Covid-19 immunisation schedule.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC this morning that a booster would “likely” be needed six months to a year after the second jab.

Medsafe group manager Chris James told RNZ in a statement that the “speculation” was not yet supported by evidence and therefore had “no impact” on the roll-out.

“Discussion of booster doses is speculation at this time and we have no data at present that determines whether a booster of the Pfizer vaccine might be needed,” he said.

“This is an area of intense study at the moment.”

Pfizer, the country’s largest vaccine manufacturer, has agreed to provide 10 million doses to New Zealand. According to the most recent estimates, only over 100,000 individuals have been immunised, with almost 30,000 receiving two doses.

Border agents have been vaccinated since mid-February, but the general population will not be vaccinated until July.

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James said that he wanted Pfizer to provide the regulator with some new results from its clinical trials about the length of safety as well as the vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing transmission.

“New Zealand stands ready to receive and consider this information through MedSafe’s established process.”

During CNBC’s panel debate, Bourla also said that people would potentially need an annual injection, similar to the flu vaccine.

“A likely scenario is that there will be likely a need for a third dose – somewhere between six and 12 months – and then from there there will be an annual revaccination, but all of that needs to be confirmed,” he said.

“And again, the variants will play a key role.”

Pfizer announced earlier this month that preliminary results revealed the vaccine was more than 91 percent effective up to six months after the second dose.

However, researchers stated that further evidence was needed to decide if the defence lasted longer than six months.

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