Health targets: Increased immunisation

What is the target?

95% of infants aged eight months will have completed their primary course of immunisation (six weeks, three months and five months immunisation events) on time.

The quarterly progress result includes children who turned eight months old during the three month period of the quarter and who were fully immunised at that stage.

Why is this target area important?

Immunisation can prevent a number of vaccine-preventable diseases. It not only provides individual protection but also population-wide protection by reducing the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases and preventing spread to vulnerable people.

Immunisation rates at age eight months are a measure of timely protection against whooping cough, among other vaccine-preventable diseases. Timely protection is important because whooping cough is particularly dangerous to babies aged under 1 year; around half of babies who catch whooping cough when they are aged under one year will need hospital treatment. For other diseases, such as measles, some of the population-wide benefits only arise with high immunisation rates among the whole population. Achieving community immunity is important to protect people that can’t be immunised, including babies too young for vaccination, people who are undergoing cancer treatment and those who have suppressed immune systems.

Increasing coverage for eight-month-olds has required system improvements in the whole immunisation system. The immunisation target of increasing eight month coverage supports early enrolment of infants in general practice and on-going engagement with primary care and well child services.

Prior to introduction of the health target for immunisation at age eight months, coverage levels were around 86% overall, and 78% for Māori. In 2015, coverage levels were between 93% and 94% overall and between 90% and 91% for Māori.  

It is still important to measure coverage at other milestone ages as this will provide more information about how well protected populations are, particularly against measles at age 2 years and 5 years.

Who is the target champion?

Dr Pat Tuohy, Chief Advisor.

Dr Pat Tuohy, Chief Advisor
Child and Youth Health

Previous targets

  • In 2009/10, the target was that 85% of two-year-olds would be fully immunised by July 2010.
  • In 2010/11, the target was that 90% of two-year olds would be fully immunised by July 2011.
  • In 2011/12, the target was that 95% of two-year olds would be fully immunised by July 2012.
  • In 2012/13, focus changed to eight-month-olds. The target was that 85% of eight-month-olds would have their primary course of immunisation at six weeks, three months and five months on time.
  • In 2013/14, the target was increased to 90% of eight-months-olds would have their primary course of immunisation (six weeks, three months and five months immunisation events) by July 2014.
  • In 2014/15, the target was increased to 95% of infants aged eight-months would have completed their primary course of immunisation (six weeks, three months and five months immunisation events) on time by December 2014.
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