On 1 July 2012 the management and purchasing of vaccines transferred from the Ministry of Health to PHARMAC.
All vaccines currently listed on the National Immunisation Schedule continue to be funded, including vaccines for the high risk immunisation programmes. These are now listed on the Pharmaceutical Schedule.
What is PHARMAC responsible for?
All publicly funded vaccines are now listed on PHARMAC’s Pharmaceutical Schedule and the district health boards are responsible for funding these once PHARMAC has listed them. PHARMAC is responsible for considering any changes to the National Immunisation Schedule vaccines, including the eligibility criteria, funding of new vaccines and managing the supply of vaccines needed for localised and national disease outbreaks.
How are new vaccines added to the schedule?
The process for adding a vaccine to the National Immunisation Schedule is similar to the process for adding a pharmaceutical to the community schedule.
Usually suppliers decide whether to make an application for funding. Normally this follows approval of the pharmaceutical/vaccine by Medsafe. PHARMAC doesn't generally consider an application for a medicine/vaccine unless it is approved by Medsafe.
Following an application, PHARMAC assesses the vaccine, seeks clinical input (for vaccines this may be from the immunisation subcommittee of Pharmaceutical and Therapeutics Advisory Committee (PTAC) or PTAC itself), and conducts economic analysis.
PHARMAC then decides what priority the application has for funding and, depending on the outcome of that process, may then negotiate with the supplier.
If an agreement is reached, PHARMAC then consults on a funding proposal. Consultation with the health sector follows, including seeking input from the Ministry of Health on capacity or implementation issues that may be associated with introducing a new vaccine.
For further information about the medicine classification process go to the Medsafe website.
For more information about the pharmaceutical schedule process go to the PHARMAC website.
What is the Ministry of Health’s role in immunisation?
The Ministry of Health is responsible for the National Immunisation Programme. The National Immunisation Programme:
- aims to prevent disease through vaccination and achieve coverage that prevents outbreaks and epidemics
- is accountable for the achievement of the Government’s priority result Immunisation Health Target
- monitors disease burden and those at risk
- provides guidance to the sector including the Immunisation Handbook
- ensures immunisation providers deliver services that meet the needs of their population
- delivers trusted effective vaccine programmes
- improves information and data systems
- manages the National Immunisation Register.
The Ministry works with PHARMAC to ensure there is a strong link between vaccine decisions, management and the National Immunisation Programme.
Who do I contact at PHARMAC about vaccines?
Contact PHARMAC on 0800 660050 if you have any questions about vaccines funding.
Who do I contact at the Ministry of Health about the National Immunisation Programme?
You can contact the Immunisation Team at email@example.com if you have any questions about the National Immunisation Programme.
What is the role of district health boards (DHBs)?
The DHBs hold funding for New Zealand’s publicly-funded pharmaceuticals (medicines, vaccines and medical devices).
PHARMAC manages most of the existing budget for these and makes decisions, on behalf of DHBs, on what to fund and which patients will derive most benefit from these. Once those decisions are made, DHBs meet the cost of these pharmaceuticals and PHARMAC ensures the costs remain within the agreed budget.