Pharmacists to deliver MMR vaccinations

Photo (left to right): Andi Shirtcliffe, Ministry of Health, Richard Townley, Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand, Sacha Jakes, Unichem Pharmacy Kilbirnie, Associate Minister of Health Julie Anne Genter and Ian McMichael, Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand.

Media release
31 October 2019

The Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand welcomes the announcement by Associate Minister of Health Julie Anne Genter that trained pharmacist vaccinators in approximately 450 pharmacies across New Zealand will soon be able to deliver MMR vaccinations to people aged 16 and over.

The Minister said, “the current measles outbreak has shown it’s vital we have pharmacists and DHBs working together on a joined-up approach to immunisation.”

People wanting an MMR vaccination should be able to visit a trained pharmacist vaccinator as soon as contracts with DHBs are agreed on.

Once they’re contracted, pharmacists can vaccinate people over the age of 16. That age marker is so there’s no disruption to the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule, which will continue to be delivered by GPs.

Genter added “It will be up to each DHB to put those contracts in place. Some will do this quickly, particularly where there is a regional outbreak of measles, so there will be different dates in different areas. What’s important is that the Ministry has now made it possible for DHBs to do this.”

“Pharmacists vaccinators played an important role in responding to the Northland meningococcal outbreak, providing more than 700 vaccines in that region, so we know this is a system that works,” says Genter.

The Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand has been working with the Ministry of Health, to enable MMR to be added to the Pharmaceutical Schedule, so pharmacists can be paid for delivering it and for changes to the Medicines Act, so that MMR can be given without a doctor’s prescription. This work will enable faster and better responses to outbreaks in the future.

Ian McMichael, President of the Pharmaceutical Society said “I’m picking this will be the first stepping-stone towards increasing vaccination uptake from pharmacy for other vaccinations – like tdap, which includes tetanus, diptheria, acellular pertussis (whooping cough) to be available free nationwide and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

Sacha Jakes from Unichem Pharmacy, Kilbirnie, Wellington welcomed the news, saying “I think this is really important for New Zealand. The pregnant mums, the elderly, the babies – those at risk. We’ve already had a lot of enquiries from airport staff wanting to get the MMR vaccination from our pharmacy.”

“Once flu vaccinations became fully funded – we had heaps of people coming in. We can go through truckloads of vaccinations in a week.”

For more information contact:
Ian McMichael
President, Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand
Mobile: 0274 855 221