Pertussis reminder to the health sector and community

This week we renewed our call for people to be aware of pertussis symptoms and the importance of vaccination. This follows the sad death of another infant from pertussis. Three infants, all aged under one year, have died from whooping cough in 2023. This third tragic death is not related to the two earlier deaths reported by Te Whatu Ora on 9 March.

With school holidays and the long Easter weekend approaching, public health services are calling on people who are unwell with a new or worsening cough, sneezing and runny nose, or a fever to avoid visiting young babies. Anyone with these symptoms who lives with a baby (e.g. grandparent or sibling) should self-isolate if they can or stay away from the baby as much as possible. Caregivers of babies too young to be vaccinated should consider not taking babies to places with large numbers of people indoors.

The best protection against pertussis is to be immunised. Babies and young children should get their vaccine doses on-time at six weeks, three months and five months. Booster doses are then available at four and 11 years old. However, if pēpē and tamariki have fallen behind in their childhood vaccination schedule, it’s never too late to catch them up. It is particularly important for tamariki to be up to date with their vaccinations if there is a new baby in the house.

The media release is available on the Te Whatu Ora website

When to immunise information is available here: When to immunise | NZ immunisations | Te Whatu Ora – Health NZ

Immunisation promotion materials can be in the pertussis folder on Dropbox

Release of the Immunisation Taskforce report

Yesterday we released the Immunisation Taskforce Report. The Report provides advice to Te Whatu Ora and Te Aka Whai Ora on how we can best utilise our size and scale to rapidly improve immunisation rates for tamariki and achieve equity across all population groups. The Report includes 54 recommendations, all of which have been accepted by Te Whatu Ora, with 26 already underway.

A webinar was held yesterday to outline and launch the Report. If you were unable to attend, you can download the recording from our Dropbox. The slides from the webinar are attached to this email.

The media release, which includes a link to the Immunisation Taskforce Report, is published on the Te Whatu Ora Website.

Flu immunisation programme

Reminder of who’s eligible for a free flu vaccine

From 1 April to 31 December 2023, the flu vaccine is available for free for people at higher risk of getting very sick from the flu including: 

  • people aged 65 years and over  
  • Māori and Pacific people aged 55 years and over  
  • pregnant people 
  • people who have a long-term medical condition like diabetes, asthma, or a heart condition (ages 6 months+) 
  • children aged 6 months to 12 years 
  • people with mental health and addiction issues. 


More collateral is available in the Dropbox and if using a social tile you can adapt the suggested message to support a vaccination event or have your own call to action.

Download here: Dropbox - Influenza (flu)

Flu and COVID-19 Booster campaigns

Campaign activity promoting both flu and COVID-19 booster vaccinations are now underway and will continue to be rolled out over the coming days and weeks. The initial focus will be on engaging the high priority audience groups (for flu that means those eligible for a funded vaccine, and for Covid those aged 30+ or at higher risk), with a particular focus on Māori and Pacific people aged 55 and over.

Activity in this initial phase includes radio and community press advertising, highly targeted digital advertising, direct activity (SMS, Email), content on GP and health centre waiting room screens, and supporting collateral.

Wider immunisation approach during flu season

While there is focus on flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the moment, we also ask that vaccinating teams are considering a wider approach to consumers when they are offering these vaccines:

  • We particularly encourage hapū māmā to receive information on all vaccines they are eligible for and when the best time to receive these will be.
  • Don't forget about your staff - are they up to date with everything they are eligible for, including MMR, or have they had a Boostrix in the last 10 years?

Refer to table 4.9 in the IMMS Handbook for further information: Immunisation Handbook 2020 | Ministry of Health NZ

Childhood immunisation

From mid-April we will be running an advertising campaign across the motu, promoting childhood immunisations. The campaign is led with two different TV adverts, updating last years “Actos of Aroha” creative with charming scenes of parents and caregivers protecting their tamaraki.

This year, the messaging will reassure parents and caregivers that if any recommended vaccinations are missed, they can catch up on them.

Appearing on mainstream free-to-air channels, Sky TV, and Māori television, as well as TVNZ+ and ThreeNOW, the TV media will run until 4th June. TV will be supported by targeted YouTube and online video placements, as well as screens in medical centres, partner packs, collateral updates, and our website.

Tik Tok video promotion

We recently collaborated with a Pacific social media influencer to help promote  childhood immunisations messages. 

Dhys Faleafaga is a former Black Ferns sevens player, now playing for the Chiefs and has over 250k Tik Tok followers.  Dhys, together with her partner Tone Ng Shiu (current All Blacks sevens player), developed a Tik Tok video with their twin babies with the prioritise to immunise message

After one week, the Tik Tok video had over 180k views and over 25k likes. You can watch it here.

Book My Vaccine

Multiple bookings

You may be aware that at the beginning of the week there were some glitches for people being able to book both their COVID-19 booster and flu vaccine at different dates on Book My Vaccine.

At the time we were able to immediately respond to the people who had this issue and suggested they book the first vaccine appointment now. This issue with Book My Vaccine has now been resolved.

Book My Vaccine webinar series

Book My Vaccine will be promoted as the booking tool for the flu and COVID-19.  Please see Te Whatu Ora website for more information.

This is a reminder that we are running a webinar series to support facilities to prepare to use Book My Vaccine to manage consumer bookings and appointment schedules.

The final webinar was on Apr 13, 2023 at 06:30 PM

New Book My Vaccine site - How do I get my site signed up?

We have had an excellent response from over 400 providers who will be using Book My Vaccine to offer flu appointments this year.

If you would like to sign up, please visit this website: Book My Vaccine – Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand. You will find the steps to sign up to offer flu appointments, download the form, find out who to ask for help and read the frequently asked questions.

Please direct all queries to our helpful support team via email or call 0800 223 987.

If you have questions and need coaching, you can join drop-in sessions between 1pm and 1.45pm each weekday.  

For more information

We're here to help! If you need any comms assistance please don't hesitate to reach out to the team:

Health sector information and resources

Māori Comms and Engagement or

Pacific Comms and Engagement

Media issues

Any other queries