Questions and answers - National Immunisation Register

Answers to questions that may be asked about the National Immunisation Register.

On this page:

  1. What is the NIR?
  2. Why do we need the NIR?
  3. What are the benefits of the NIR?
  4. What information is held on the NIR?
  5. How is information from GPs transferred to the NIR?
  6. How do immunisation providers access support for issues connecting to the NIR?
  7. How is the information on the NIR used?
  8. Is every child's immunisation record held on the NIR?
  9. How can I access the information held on the NIR about my child?
  10. When did the NIR start recording immunisation details?
  11. How did the NIR relate to the Meningococcal B Immunisation Programme?
  12. How long will information be held on the NIR?
  13. What is New Zealand’s immunisation coverage?

1. What is the NIR?

The National Immunisation Register (NIR) is a computerised information system that has been developed to hold immunisation details of New Zealand children.

2. Why do we need the NIR?

The NIR is a key tool that assists New Zealand to improve its immunisation rates. Improved immunisation coverage will offer individual protection against vaccine-preventable diseases and protection for the community against recurring epidemics.

The NIR enables authorised health professionals to quickly and easily find out what vaccines a child has been given (this will include children whose family has shifted or changed healthcare providers). This will help to make sure immunisations are given at the appropriate time. The NIR will also provide a more accurate record of immunisation coverage rates – regionally and nationally. This will enable better programme planning to target populations with the lowest immunisation rates.

3. What are the benefits of the NIR?

  • Providing quick access to a child’s immunisation status. This helps to ensure the child receives the appropriate immunisations at the scheduled time.
  • Assisting NIR authorised health professionals to recall individuals overdue for immunisation.
  • Sharing information between authorised healthcare providers in order to follow up children of highly mobile families, immigrant children and those from populations with low coverage rates particularly Mäori and Pacific children, and to offer them vaccination. This will also help to ensure that children are linked back to primary health care services.
  • Providing local, regional and national immunisation coverage data. This data will help to support programme planning so that resources can be targeted at populations where immunisation coverage is lowest.
  • Improved monitoring of vaccine safety and effectiveness.
  • Improving access to immunisation services, increasing coverage rates and reducing immunisation disparities among people of different socioeconomic and ethnic groups.

4. What information is held on the NIR?

The NIR includes the following information:

  • child’s name, date of birth, gender, National Health Index number and ethnicity;
  • parent/guardian names and contact information;
  • nominated health professionals (eg, GP, Lead Maternity Carer and Well Child/Tamariki Ora provider) and
  • immunisations given.

After your baby is enrolled on the NIR, you will be sent a ‘Welcome to the NIR’ letter, confirming enrollment and contact details.

If your child’s immunisations are rescheduled or declined or if there are medical reasons not to immunise, this will be recorded on the NIR.

5. How is information from GPs transferred to the NIR?

GPs and other vaccination providers with an electronic patient management system (PMS) are able to access the NIR through upgraded versions of their current practice management systems. For practices that do not have an upgraded PMS system, a paper-based system is used so that practices can send immunisation information to the NIR. Alternatively, information may be sent to the NIR using a web browser via the Health Intranet. Immunisation information is sent to the NIR as soon as possible after the immunisations are given.

6. How do immunisation providers access support for issues connecting to the NIR?

Immunising providers access first level support for their immunisation messaging through

  • their local DHB NIR Administrator for where vaccination messages have been rejected/errored
  • their Practice Management System vendor for training and support for their application
  • HealthLink for support using their messaging mailbox

Where the cause of issues is unclear and the local DHB NIR Administrator cannot solve them, the DHB NIR Administrator will log a support request with the Ministry of Health Support Services using 0800 505 125 for further technical support and investigation.

7. How is the information on the NIR used?

Only authorised providers can update or amend the database. The NIR will protect the privacy of consumers and users at all times.

Authorised health professionals can use the NIR to check a child’s immunisation status to ensure the appropriate immunisations are given at the scheduled time. In the event of an outbreak of vaccine-preventable disease they are also able to use the information on the NIR to control the spread of the disease.

District Health Boards and the Ministry of Health will use non-identifiable aggregated information from the NIR to assess immunisation coverage rates, develop policy and improve services.

8. Is every child’s immunisation record held on the NIR?

Only children born from 2005 onwards will be on the NIR.

However, all children immunised with the MeNZBTM vaccine as part Meningococcal B Immunisation Programme had their details recorded on the NIR, along with any other immunisations given at the same time as the MeNZBTM vaccine. No further vaccinations are recorded on the NIR for these older children.

During pregnancy and after the birth of their child all parents will be informed about the NIR. An NIR information brochure for parents has been developed. Lead Maternity Carers (LMCs) have a key role in providing information about the NIR as well as information about immunisation. After birth relevant information about each child will then be added onto the NIR.

Parents may choose to ‘opt off’ putting any details of their child’s immunisations on the NIR. In this case the child’s National Health Index number, date of birth, District Health Board and any immunisations already recorded on the NIR will be retained on the NIR so that immunisation coverage can be accurately calculated and analysed.

Parents may also choose not to immunise their child and this is recorded on the NIR as a declined immunisation event to prevent recalls.

During the MeNZBTM programme between July 2004 and June 2006, all children immunised with the MeNZBTM vaccine had their data entered onto the NIR, along with the details of any other immunisations given at the same time as the MeNZBTM vaccine. If a child received doses of MeNZBTM vaccine, there was no ‘opt-off’ option available. If parents declined the MeNZBTM vaccine, then they could choose to opt-off the NIR.

9. How can I access the information held on the NIR about my child?

Parents and guardians may request their child’s immunisation information, or request that information be corrected, at any time through their health professional or by contacting their local DHB and asking for the National Immunisation Register. Those living overseas should request their child’s immunisation information from the DHB they last lived in.

To find the contact details for your local DHB, go to DHB websites.

10. When did the NIR start recording immunisation details?

The NIR was implemented nationwide by the Ministry of Health and District Health Boards in 2005. The rollout occured in a staged approach throughout New Zealand and commenced with the Greater Auckland region in April 2005 finishing in Nelson/Marlborough in December 2005.

11. How did the NIR relate to the Meningococcal B Immunisation Programme?

The MeNZBTM vaccine was developed in response to the meningococcal disease epidemic in New Zealand. The Meningococcal B Immunisation Programme began in July 2004 and was completed in June 2006. The vaccine continued to be offered to pre-schoolers until 2008. The NIR is used to record details of the immunisations given for safety and coverage monitoring.

12. How long will information be held on the NIR?

Information will be held on the NIR for the whole of an individual’s life plus a further 10 years.

13. What is New Zealand’s immunisation coverage?

The National Immunisation Programme’s target is for 95% of children to be fully immunised at the age of two years. Disease transmission is prevented from circulating in a community only when high immunisation coverage is achieved (90–95 percent of the total population, depending on the disease). For more information see Immunisation Coverage Data for the latest coverage figures.

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