Proposal to enable more childhood vaccines to be given in community pharmacies

Media release Medicines

Pharmac – Te Pātaka Whaioranga is seeking feedback on a joint proposal with Health New Zealand – Te Whatu Ora, to enable community pharmacies to give some of the funded childhood vaccines.

“Pharmac has an important role to help improve the health outcomes for New Zealanders, so to work with Te Whatu Ora to increase childhood vaccination rates across the motu is a great opportunity,” says Pharmac’s Director, Pharmaceuticals Geraldine MacGibbon.

The consultation released by Pharmac today proposes to remove the ‘Xpharm’ restriction – which currently prevents pharmacies from being able to give funded vaccines – from the following funded childhood vaccines from 1 March 2024:                                                                                       

  • Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio vaccine
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, hepatitis B and haemophilus influenzae type B vaccine
  • Haemophilus influenzae type B vaccine
  • Pneumococcal (PCV13) conjugate vaccine
  • Rotavirus oral vaccine
  • Varicella vaccine [Chickenpox vaccine].

“We know community pharmacies are a good way for people to access funded vaccines that don’t have the Xpharm restriction, like the COVID-19 and flu vaccines – these would not be impacted as part of this proposal.”

Te Whatu Ora is working with Pharmacy and General Practice leaders to discuss the removal of the Xpharm restriction and how this change will be implemented.

“Childhood immunisation rates have declined in recent years and one of the biggest barriers is access to vaccinators,” says Te Whatu Ora Director of Prevention, Alana Ewe-Snow.

“General Practice already plays a critical role in the delivery of childhood immunisations and will continue to do so; however, we need to draw on the capability and capacity across the wider health sector to help increase options for whānau to access childhood immunisations in their communities.”

"Because of the importance of the continuity of care provided by General Practice, we will be working closely with PHOs and Pharmacies to try and ensure that people accessing Pharmacy for their childhood immunisations are those who are unable to get to their General Practice or do not have a GP. "

“Removal of the Xpharm restriction on childhood immunisation is the first step in the process. A training programme is currently in development to support Pharmacist Vaccinators who wish to upskill and offer childhood immunisations,” says Alana.

To provide feedback on the proposed removal of the Xpharm restriction email by 5pm, Monday 29 January 2024. All feedback received will be shared with Te Whatu Ora.