A funding package of $4.6 million has been confirmed to help support general practice to pre-call, recall or refer parents and caregivers of tamariki for their 6-week immunisations.

Health New Zealand – Te Whatu Ora National Director, Dr Nick Chamberlain says the funding is intended to help alleviate some of the administrative pressure currently being experienced by general practice due to workforce constraints and enrolment capacity.

“One of the most effective health interventions we can do is get our tamariki immunised, however, childhood immunisation rates in Aotearoa are currently below target at 81% for 24 month olds, and we are working with urgency to improve this.

“Proactively reaching out to parents and caregivers through enrolment at birth and before their pēpi are due for immunisations can help ensure that pēpi receive their immunisations on time. There are also important medical checks that take place at 6 weeks, so it’s recommended that pēpi get their immunisations and medical check in the same visit and primary care is best placed to coordinate this.

“It’s also important that parents and caregivers have options. The Immunisation Taskforce Report highlighted that access is one barrier to getting tamariki immunised on time, and last month we enabled the option for community pharmacies to provide childhood immunisations for whānau who can’t otherwise make it to their GP. An important consideration was to ensure that a connection remained between primary care and their patients or was created if one didn’t exist, and our expectation is that primary care and pharmacies will work together to help meet the needs of whānau,” says Dr Chamberlain.

General practice will continue to remain accountable for their enrolled patients and this additional funding will be paid to primary care following 6-week immunisation events that take place from 1 April 2024 to 30 June 2025, regardless of where the vaccination was delivered. Primary care will receive a base payment of $40 for every pēpi upon completion of their 6-week immunisation, and an additional $40 for pēpi who are immunised and meet high-priority criteria (Māori, Pacific, Community Services Card, Deprivation Quintile five and rural).

“Our key goal is to increase immunisation rates for tamariki, and the important pre-call, recall and referral work that primary care does is an essential part of this. It’s important for parents and caregivers to know that if tamariki have missed their immunisations, they can catch up,” says Dr Chamberlain.