NZDSA Covid-19 Bulletin Update
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The NZDSA focus for the COVID-19 Bulletin is to sift through all the information about COVID-19 and then collate and share information that is most pertinent to the Down syndrome community. 

You will have noticed in the media that current modelling suggests that New Zealand is at the beginning of a second Omicron wave that could be bigger than the first, with the more transmissible BA.5 variant becoming the dominant strain in the community.

The NZDSA has collated information that we hope you find useful.
The NZDSA was established 41 years ago as a charitable organisation. The NZDSA receives no government funding so the donations we receive from this annual telephone fundraising campaign will enable the NZDSA to raise awareness, to support its ongoing work and to funded three specific projects described below. This year our annual appeal was for three critical projects:
  • The first is to host our annual Youth Development Camp at Vaughan Park Retreat Centre and MERC, Long Bay, Auckland in November 2022. This camp will focus on building self-esteem, well-being, gaining independence and confidence, as well as some activities like rock climbing, archery and abseiling.
  • The second is to publish and distribute our quarterly journal called CHAT 21.
  • The third is the vital information, support service that the NZDSA provides to people with Down syndrome, their whānau and professionals.
Another HUGE thank you to Southern Stars Charitable Trust for their support!

STRIVE Afternoon Tea Club

Topic: STRIVE Afternoon Tea Club- joining us for anniversary of STRIVE

Date: Sep 17, 2022 

Time: 04:00 PM 

Meeting ID: 818 4149 6771

Passcode: 939828

Join Zoom Meeting

Announcing The NZDSA Virtual Conference to Celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month  3rd October to the 21st October 2022 

The EGL Family Core Groups from Waikato, Mid-Central and Ōtautahi with the Family Leadership Alliance (FLA) are pleased to invite you to attend a series of zoom huis about EGL. Our first hui is on the 6th September 7-8pm. The attached flyer contains more information and if you have any questions, please get in touch at

Read more

Event details

Date:          Wednesday 7 September
Time:         11.15am - 12.00pm
Location:   online webinar

This hui will include:

  • Te Aka Whai Ora and Te Whatu Ora updates, including progress on localities

  • An introduction to Te Pae Tata - the interim New Zealand Health Plan

  • How Data and Digital technology can help us achieve better health outcomes for all New Zealanders

Riana and Margie welcome your questions and feedback. You'll have the opportunity to post questions via the event link and there will be a focused question and answer session in the second half of the session. After the hui we will also send out a short survey so you can provide feedback and let us know what you’d like to see in future forums.

We hope you can join us, but if you can’t we will share a recording of Margie and Riana’s update on the stakeholder pages of the 
Te Aka Whai Ora and Te Whatu Ora websites.
Watch 26th July Hui here
Visit the Covid-19 Support and information for Disabled People webpage for current information relative to people with disabilities. 
Visit Website here

A campaign in support of those who are unable to wear masks started recently The campaign aims to help others understand and appreciate people’s reasons for not wearing a mask.

The campaign is running through Unite Against COVID-19 social media channels and will also appear on digital screens in retail and medical settings through Giggle TV and Health TV.

Posters and flyers are available for download through the Resource Toolkit. Please feel free to share this link across your networks.

Easy Read PDF
Resource Toolkit

A national campaign to encourage people to get their booster is underway. The campaign focuses on the key message of “why get a booster?” and the first phase of this campaign is already in the market with radio, print adverts and digital assets.

The National Immunisation team at Te Whau Ora Health New Zealand are sending direct messages to eligible people nationwide, to promote and encourage booster uptake. The team are using CPIR to automatically text or email people as they become eligible for a second COVID-19 booster, encouraging them to book or get their vaccination. This work will continue throughout August and September.

For priority populations, where mobile phone numbers or email addresses are not on record, they are posting physical/hardcopy reminders. These letters will start arriving in mailboxes next week. 

To book a second booster:

More information about second boosters is available on the Ministry of Health webpage on boosters.  
Easy Read PDF

COVID-19 antiviral medicines are available to treat eligible people with COVID-19 at home.

They are free for eligible people with COVID-19 within five days of their symptoms starting. When taken early in COVID-19 illness, these medicines have been proven to reduce hospitalisation and death.  Te Whatu Ora has developed an eligibility guide for COVID-19 antiviral medicines to help explain who can get free antiviral medicines to reduce their risk of hospitalisation.

You can check out the eligibility guide on the Ministry of Health website.

View the latest updated information on COVID-19 medicines relating to: 

  • who can get them

  • how to get them from your general practice or pharmacy

  • getting advance prescriptions; and

  • the return of symptoms following treatment.

Read more here

For some people, symptoms may return after completing a course of the COVID-19 antiviral medicines Paxlovid. This is known as Paxlovid rebound. People experiencing Paxlovid rebound do not appear to get severely ill. Symptoms are usually mild and typically resolve within three days.

It is normal for some people recovering from COVID-19 to have symptoms that come and go for some time, regardless of whether they have taken antiviral medicines. You should stay home and recover until 24 hours after you no longer have symptoms if: 

  • your symptoms return after finishing the five-day course of Paxlovid,

  • and it’s 28 days or less since you first got symptoms or tested positive.

There is no need to take another course of Paxlovid if your symptoms return during this time.
If you have an underlying health condition or your symptoms are getting worse, call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or your usual healthcare provider.

More information here.
Read more here

0800 11 12 13 - the Covid-19 Disability Helpline started off as a vaccination helpline. Their services have extended, now including offering assistance for when a support worker is unavailable to provide for a person's urgent needs.

The Covid-19 disability helpline can provide assistance with:

  • vaccines

  • applying for face mask exemptions

  • advice on Covid-19 testing

  • guidance with managing Covid-19 at home

  • backup if a support worker is unavailable to provide for a person’s urgent needs.

The helpline is open 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. From 8am-8pm a person with experience or knowledge of disability will answer the call and assess the urgency of your situation and provide advice or assistance. After 8pm calls will be answered by a trained member of the Healthline team.

The disability helpline is provided by Whakarongorau, a telehealth provider that manages several support phone lines including Healthline.

This Disability helpline service has now been extended to provide a response for disabled people who require urgent support and whose support workers are unavailable through their home and community support provider during the pandemic.

If a support worker is unavailable to provide for a person’s urgent needs, the 0800 11 12 13 (disability line) will offer an essential backup service by connecting people to appropriate assistance where possible.

The Call Centre will work with the person/whānau to determine what needs to happen, how urgent the situation is and if medical or other emergency services are needed.

People are always encouraged to contact their service provider directly in the first instance to confirm when they will arrive. However, in urgent cases that do not require medical intervention, the Call Centre can also help the person follow up with their service provider if they have been unable to contact them.

Whakarongorau has a service directory of provider numbers to call. If it is determined that medical intervention may be required, this will be discussed with the caller, and transferred to a Healthline clinician to manage.


More than 400 pharmacies around the motu can now supply medicines to eligible people with COVID-19 who are at a higher risk of becoming very sick, without needing a prescription.

Two COVID-19 medicines, Paxlovid and Lagevrio, have been reclassified from prescription-only to restricted or pharmacist-only medicines to enable this new initiative.

It will significantly boost access to COVID-19 medicines for people with COVID-19 who meet Pharmac’s eligibility criteria and will be offered to all pharmacies in coming weeks.

People will still require a clinical assessment and these medicines may not be appropriate for everyone, even if they meet Pharmac’s eligibility criteria.

This is about easier and timely access to COVID-19 medicines that have been proven to reduce hospitalisations for those most at-risk of severe disease to help ease pressures on our hospitals and primary care practices.

More information about COVID-19 therapeutics is available on
the Ministry of Health website.

Carer Support Flexibility will continue until 30 September 2022 for those eligible for Carer Support or IF currently through the Ministry of Health Disability Support Services. 

Read more here

People no longer need to have COVID-19 symptoms or be a household contact to get free RATs.

You can order RATs online at before going to pick them up.

Order RAT's here
Ministry of Health Website

COVID-19 healthcare is fully funded for up to six weeks from the first day symptoms develop or the date of the first positive test, whichever is earlier. This includes one follow-up check with a healthcare provider if required during those six weeks, once the acute episode of COVID-19 is over.

After the follow-up check, and if it is determined that the person no longer has acute COVID-19, they will need to pay for future GP consultations and prescription dispensing fees even if it is within the six-week period.

Read more

The Ministry of Health Claims team has reduced their carer support claims backlog and their turn around time is once again between five and 10 days. 

To help them process your claim as quickly possible remember to include bank details and your dated signature. If you're sending an email put your client ID number and whether it is a query or a claim in the subject line. If you can put all the information in one pdf file - you can use a scanner app on your phone.


The latest evidence shows that getting reinfected with COVID-19 can occur within a short period of time. Reinfection will become more likely as new variants spread among the community. 

If a person develops new symptoms consistent with COVID-19, and it’s 29 days or more since a previous infection, it’s possible they have a reinfection with COVID-19 and they should test using a rapid antigen test (RAT). 

Should people test positive, they will need to isolate for 7 days. 

This is a change from earlier advice, which was that people would not need to re-test if they had tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 90 days. The change is based on the latest international evidence and the need to quickly isolate people with reinfections. 

Household contacts who have had COVID-19 within 90 days won’t need to isolate unless they are symptomatic. 

While reinfections are low, they are likely to increase. The B.5 variant of Omicron is predicted to become the dominant strain in the country in the coming weeks and is a different variant to what most New Zealanders caught the first time around. 

Updated advice on getting infected again with COVID-19 after a previous COVID-19 infection and when people should take a RAT is available on the Ministry of Health website

Read more here

Second COVID-19 boosters are available now for older New Zealanders and other groups including those who are immunocompromised and disability support service workers aged 30 years and over. 

COVID-19 vaccinations, including the second booster, can be booked through Book My Vaccine or by calling the COVID Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week). Walk-in vaccination options can be found via Healthpoint and the Unite Against Covid website.  

Book here

From 14 July people 18 years and older have been able to access second boosters for both AstraZeneca and Novavax via Book My Vaccine.

  • The addition of AstraZeneca and Novavax means people now have a choice in their second booster vaccination, with the Pfizer second booster already available.
  • For the Novavax second booster NO prescription is needed
  • For the AstraZeneca second booster a prescription IS needed.

More information is available on the Ministry of Health website. 


Eligibility for free flu vaccines has widened, with children aged 3-12 years and people with serious mental health or addiction needs, now eligible for free flu dose. 

As well as the expanded criteria for funded flu vaccinations being announced, flu vaccinations are also free for people aged 65 and over, Māori and Pacific people aged 55  and over, anyone who is pregnant and people with underlying health issues like asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.  

The Ministry is encouraging all health and disability sector employees to get immunised against flu. To support health and disability workers not employed by DHBs, the Ministry of Health will reimburse employers the costs associated with vaccinating their patient- and client-facing employees.   

Applications for flu vaccination reimbursement up to a maximum of $35 plus GST will be processed between 1 May 2022 and 30 September 2022. Guidance on applying for a reimbursement can be found here.  

More information, including information in easy read format is available: Flu (influenza) vaccine information on the Ministry of Health website  

Detailed information, including a simple application template is available on the Ministry of Health website.  

Information is also included in the Minister of Health’s media release:  More free flu vaccines and a second COVID-19 booster to groups at risk of hospitalisation 

Find out more
The Ministry’s Long COVID webpage has been established and will continue to be updated. 
Read here

The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Protection Framework) Order 2021 has been amended to provide greater legal protection to people who are unable to wear a face mask. 

Now, a personalised COVID-19 Face Mask Exemption Pass gives the holder the documentation that they are exempt from wearing a face mask and helps businesses to conclusively identify people who are legitimately exempt.

The pass can be applied for online at My Covid Record, by phone, text or at participating pharmacies, general practice or other vaccinating sites. 

In mid-June a related social awareness campaign will run on social media. It will highlight that some people have genuine, and sometimes invisible, reasons for being exempt from needing to wear a mask and encourage people to be kind. 

You can apply online here
Read more information on the exemption here
Advice for people who have difficulties wearing a mask

You can find a wide variety of COVID-19 information in 27 languages and 4 alternate formats on the Unite Against COVID-19 website. Key information includes: 

  • COVID-19 Our Isolation Plan

  • Getting your booster dose

  • Protecting your tamariki from COVID-19

  • Wearing a face mask

  • Testing

  • Support for if you get COVID-19

  • Support for individuals and families

  • We will continue to update our translated information as the situation develops. 



If you missed the highly informative sessions on the 29th August and September 8th you can watch the recording and access links to additional resources

For more information on the Covid Vaccination, 
click here

View August 29th Session here
View September 8th Session here
Additional Information Referred to
Dedicated phone line for disabled people 0800 11 12 13
COVID-19 care and support:  Healthline NZ (, or phone 0800 358 5453
COVID-19 Health Hub: COVID-19 Health Hub (
Disability Healthline (Whakarongorau) Information on Vaccinations, Testing & Face Mask Exemptions: text 8988, email, or phone 0800 28 29 26 (choose option 2)
Unite Against COVID 19 – information for disabled people: COVID-19 support and information for disabled people in New Zealand | Unite against COVID-19 (
Rapid Antigen Tests
Order Rapid Antigen Tests for pick up get tests delivered to your home: Request a RAT | Ministry of Health NZ (, or phone 0800 222 478 (choose option 3)
Find nearest testing centre: COVID-19 Testing • Healthpoint
Record your test result: My Covid Record | Ministry of Health NZ or phone 0800 222 478 (choose option 3).
Self Assessment Form
Self-assessment form advice, assistance with completing the Self-assessment Form: email, or phone 0800 555 728.
Easy Read Information
NZDSA COVID-19 Updates
Don't forget to check our website regularly to ensure you are up to date with the latest news on COVID-19, and how it affects you.

We will also be sending updates via email, so make sure to keep an eye out for COVID updates from us.

Click Here For The Latest From Our Website
We want to acknowledge celebrations, everyday achievements, exciting milestones and tributes for people with Down syndrome in New Zealand. Please send us a photo and details such as name and age (if appropriate).  We would always welcome you including a short story/paragraph. Please email We’d love to share these stories via our NZDSA e-news and on our Facebook page.


Would you like to become a NZDSA Member? Becoming a member entitles you to receive the quarterly NZDSA Journal, resources and self-advocates have the opportunity to attend camps. For more information or to become a member email Rose at or visit our website


F O L L O W on F A C E B O O K
Through the NZDSA e-news the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association (NZDSA) will attempt to report items of interest relating to Down syndrome. The NZDSA does not promote or recommend any therapy, treatment, agency, product, political position, religion or advice. The opinions expressed in items featured in our NZDSA e-news are not necessarily those of the NZDSA.

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New Zealand Down Syndrome Association (NZDSA) · P O Box 4142 · Auckland, AK 1140 · New Zealand