Influenza Immunisation 2021 programme strengthened by new sector working group

News article

15 December 2020

The Ministry of Health has established a new sector working group for its 2021 Influenza Immunisation Programme.

The group is chaired by the Ministry of Health, and includes vaccine supplier Seqirus, vaccine distribution centre HCL, PHARMAC, Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC), The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, New Zealand Medical Association, Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand, Pharmacy Guild, MedPro Healthcare, and the New Zealand Occupational Health Nurse Association, along with DHB Planning and Funding and DHB Tumu Whakarae.

The kaupapa of the group is to support a more collaborative and integrated influenza immunisation sector, to drive progress across the Influenza immunisation programme, advise on planning and potential design of future programmes. It will review potential improvements to the programme and make recommendations to the Ministry’s Influenza project team as required.

“We established this group in response to a Ministry-commissioned report into the supply chain issues experienced in 2020,” said Sarah Emerson, Principal Advisor, Immunisation at the Ministry of Health. “It’s one of the steps we’re taking to improve the programme and provide more reliable access to the vaccine in the context of growing demand.”

She said that by working together more closely, the immunisation sector is better placed to respond to any changes in demand or in supply: “Being better connected will strengthen our planning based on lessons from previous years, and our ability to respond to the unexpected. We’ve aimed for the group to have representation from organisations involved in key aspects of the immunisation programme, while being of a manageable size to function efficiently. We thank all members of the group for investing their time in this kaupapa, and we look forward to drawing on their expertise.”

The group’s first meeting took place in late November, and focused on vaccine supply, demand planning and a promotional campaign led by the Immunisation Advisory Centre, and a more joined-up approach to communications.

Forming a working group was a priority action agreed at a meeting with the Ministry and over 40 stakeholders from the immunisation sector, where the Ministry sought feedback on priority actions based on the report’s findings and recommendations. 

In line with stakeholder feedback, the group’s guiding principles centre on equity of access to the influenza vaccine, equitable immunisation coverage for people eligible to receive a funded vaccination, effective and sustainable provision of influenza vaccination, and achieving a collaborative and integrated influenza immunisation sector.

The group will meet monthly or more frequently as the programme requires.

The Ministry and its partners will provide further information about the 2021 Influenza Immunisation programme shortly.

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