Slippage in vaccination coverage shown up in target failures


Slippage in vaccination coverage shown up in target failures

Nikki Turner IMAC
Immunisation expert Nikki Turner says 95 per cent vaccination coverage is needed to control measles
“We need more support for reaching out to those people who are struggling to get kids vaccinated on time” Child immunisation rates have improve


In an emailed response to New Zealand Doctor questions on the ED target slippage, Stuart Powell, the Ministry of Health's chief advisor on DHB performance, support and infrastructure, says it is concerned at the deterioration.

"... timely care is important for patients and increases in waiting time is of concern. There is always more that can be done, particularly in streamlining the process of getting patients from the ED to the appropriate areas within the hospital if they require admission.

"A range of factors are involved, including increasing demand, matching capacity with the expected demand and improving processes which are delaying the admission of inpatients.

"DHBs are being provided with advice around identifying their particular drivers of extended waiting times and targeting improvements to the right area.

"Improvements include: better coordination between the ED and admitting specialties to facilitate admissions; improved synchronisation of rosters with predicted acute demand; processes on the wards to reduce ward length of stay; preventing avoidable admissions; and improving the spread of knowledge of what is being done to help improve performance at other DHBs."

He says the ministry is finalising a "new set of measures" to replace the existing health targets, but further information is unavailable at present.

Surely vaccination targets were simply hypothetically achievable targets?. If they were based on "achieved" overseas targets in variously funded and organised primary health care systems then a failure to achieve a target is hardly a failure but more of a research project. The demands that such public health "need" has put onto primary care (with its unfunded primary nursing workforce) have been severe.

The Ministry silence over the measles epidemic has been damning, deeply damning. The strong pro-vaccination statements have come from the media and us - it has been incredible. 

Nikki Turner is a national treasure, it is great to have her leadership and bravery in this battle. Practice Nurses have yet again shown their value to Primary Care teams, even if the Government doesn't recognise their value anymore (nor do they recognise the value of vaccination by funding it by less than cost...).


Ministry of Health director of public health Caroline McElnay has this afternoon emailed the following statement in response to New Zealand Doctor questions regarding performance measured against the government's child immunisation target. 

"Immunisation can protect people against harmful infections, which can cause serious complications, including death. It is one of the most effective, and cost-effective medical interventions to prevent disease. It is very encouraging that the latest results for immunisation coverage at 8 months show that both Canterbury DHB and Auckland DHB have reached 94.6% and 94.5% with good progress across many other DHBs.   

"There is still work to do and the Ministry is considering a range of measures to improve immunisation rates. 

"Immunisation coverage is the percentage of children who have received all of the target immunisations on the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule for their age. The 8 month target shows the percentage of children who received their immunisations which were due at 6 weeks, 3 months and 5 months. Further immunisation events occur at 15 months and 4 years with different vaccines given and it is important that we continue to monitor coverage of those vaccines as well. 

"The ministry's priority throughout the measles outbreak was to ensure that all children receive their vaccinations on time to maintain the national Childhood Immunisation Schedule in addition to supporting MMR vaccination, so the increase in 8 month results may be a reflection of this focus. 

"There has also never been such strong demand for MMR vaccine. More than 400,000 MMR vaccines were distributed in 2019 compared to 150,000 for all of 2018."