In 2012, the Better Public Services programme established a target to increase infant immunisation rates.
The 5-year target to increase infant immunisation rates was to achieve and maintain 95% of 8 month-olds fully immunised by 30 June 2017, with the following steps:
- 85% by 1 July 2013
- 90% by 1 July 2014
- 95% by 31 December 2014.
The first two steps were achieved. Since December 2014 the immunisation rate at age 8 months has remained steady at between 93% and 94% each quarter.
An infant is considered fully immunised if they have completed the schedule of the primary series of vaccinations by the age of 8 months (these are due at 6 weeks, 3 months and 5 months). The vaccinations cover Diphtheria/Tetanus/acellular Pertussis/Polio/Hepatitis B/Haemophilus influenza type b and Pneumococcal disease. Rotavirus immunisation was introduced in 2014 at this age, however this was not included within the target measure.
Progress towards the target
Infant immunisation rates have increased significantly since the target was introduced in 2012, with an 8% increase in coverage at age 8 months. Infant immunisation coverage is now consistently between 93% and 94%.
13 of the 20 DHBs had achieved the target of 95% coverage for at least one quarter by the end of 2016.
Importantly, this target has been a pro-equity intervention, with greater gains being made for immunisation of Māori infants than the total population. Coverage for Māori infants has increased from 78% in 2012 to now being between 90% and 91%, an increase of more than 12%. The 95% target for immunisation at age 8 months has been met for Pacific and Asian infants.
Good immunisation processes are now embedded as business as usual across DHBs and the public’s confidence in services and the immunisations delivered has increased. Nationally, only 4% of families decline one or more vaccines for their infants.
Improved service delivery to achieve the target has allowed additional vaccines to have maximum impact on the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases, including invasive pneumococcal disease and rotavirus gastroenteritis, both of which have reduced significantly. For instance, the rate of invasive pneumococcal disease in those aged under 2 years has decreased from more than 100 per 100,000 population in 2006 to now being less than 20 per 100,000 population.
Immunisation coverage rates continue to be an important focus. 8-month-old immunisation rates remain one of the Government’s 6 key health targets and an increased emphasis is also being placed on 5-year-old coverage. Immunisation is also one of the contributory measures for the Systems Levels Measures Framework.
Immunisation coverage for children at 8 months – as of December 2016
- Dep 9–10 = Deprivation Decile 9–10.
What did it take to achieve the result?
The Ministry of Health developed a 4-point action plan: Enrol, Engage, Promote, and Monitor to assist with achieving the immunisation target.
The key actions resulted in better timeliness for newborn enrolment, more transparent and consistent delivery of immunisation services, ongoing integration of services as a result of local monitoring and better engagement for health professionals as they worked together to develop local plans.
The Ministry of Health worked with the health sector to ensure timely immunisations by:
- linking pregnant women into maternity services sooner
- assisting pregnant women to enrol with a GP before a baby is born
- speeding up enrolment of newborn babies with primary care at birth
- supporting practices to develop robust precall and recall systems for children due for immunisations
- providing outreach immunisation services for those children who are not vaccinated in a general practice.
Central to achieving increased immunisations is joined up primary and maternity care, and Well Child/Tamariki Ora services.
The Ministry publishes data by ethnicity, deprivation and DHBs at Immunisation coverage. The National Immunisation Register (NIR) is the data source.
The NIR is a computerised information system that was developed to store and report immunisation records of New Zealand children. The NIR enables authorised health professionals to quickly and easily find out what vaccines a child has been given and what vaccines a child is due. The NIR provides an accurate record of immunisation coverage rates.
The NIR is a robust data source that allows the Ministry to produce reliable statistics for immunisation coverage. There is a high rate of enrolment by international standards. NIR enrolments are updated every week and vaccination events are recorded in real time. Read more about National and DHB immunisation data.
Read more about our Immunisation programme.