Over 100,000 people set to benefit from PHARMAC vaccines decisions

Media release Medicines

PHARMAC has today announced changes to funded vaccines, which will benefit an extra 100,000 people, says PHARMAC Director of Operations Sarah Fitt.

The changes include:

  • From 1 January 2017:
    • The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available for all children and adults up to the age of 26 years, and boys will now be included in the HPV school vaccination programme.
    • The HPV vaccine itself will also change to cover more strains of the virus, in fewer doses. 
  • From 1 July 2017:
    • The varicella (chickenpox) vaccine will be funded for all children as a part of the childhood immunisation schedule
    • The pneumococcal vaccine will change from a 13 strain to a 10 strain version 
    • The rotavirus vaccine will change brand and move to a two-dose regimen
    • The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) and haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) vaccines will move to new brands.

“Preventing illnesses through vaccinations is important to the health of all New Zealanders, as they don’t just help the people receiving them, but also their family and whanau, and wider society,” says Ms Fitt.

“It’s important that PHARMAC responds to the changing nature of preventable illness and the evolution in the science of vaccinations. We work closely with our expert clinical advisers as well as our health sector partners to make sure we target the right areas of need.

“The changes have been made possible following constructive negotiations with suppliers that have created significant savings, and have allowed wider access to vaccines while reducing the overall cost to New Zealand.”

The changes include a change from a 13 strain to a 10 strain version of the pneumococcal vaccine.

“PHARMAC received a lot of feedback from our health sector partners regarding the changes to the pneumococcal vaccine,” says Ms Fitt.

“Our expert clinical advisers support the move to Synflorix, a 10 strain version of the pneumococcal vaccine and have said that it’s suitable for New Zealand. Other versions of the vaccine, including the 13 strain and 23 strain will remain fully funded for high risk patients.

“Through a focus on the best overall package of vaccines to fund, this change has also helped provide flexibility to widen access to the HPV and varicella vaccines, which will provide significant health benefits to New Zealand.

In addition to the further summary information below, more information can be found in the notification document [link no longer available], available on the PHARMAC website.

Contact: 021 863 342


From 1 January 2017

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine
    • Funded access will be widened to include people up to the age of 26 years.
    • A two-dose regimen will be funded for those children aged 14 years and under. The two-dose regimen was recently approved by Medsafe.
    • A three-dose schedule will be funded for people aged 15-26 years inclusive.
    • The 4 valent (Gardasil) HPV vaccine will be replaced with the 9 valent (Gardasil 9) vaccine. 
    • Females who have started a three-dose regimen of 4 valent Gardasil will be able to complete their remaining doses in 2017.

From 1 July 2017

  • Varicella vaccine
    • Funded access of the varicella vaccine (Varilrix) will be widened to include one dose for primary vaccination in children at 15 months old and a catch up in general practice of one dose for previously unvaccinated children at 11 years old, who have not previously had a varicella infection (chickenpox).
    • Funding criteria for high risk patients will remain unchanged.
    • There will be a change in pack size from 1 to 10 injections per pack. 
  • Pneumococcal conjugated vaccine (PCV)
    • The 13 valent (Prevenar 13) PCV13 pneumococcal vaccine will be replaced by the 10 valent (Synflorix) PCV10 vaccine on the National Immunisation Schedule.
    • Prevenar 13 will remain available for high risk patients only.
  • Rotavirus vaccine
    • The currently listed RotaTeq brand will be replaced by the Rotarix brand.
    • The current three-dose regimen will be replaced with a two-dose regimen.
  • Measles, mumps and rubella vaccine
    • The currently listed MMR-II brand will be replaced by the Priorix brand. 
  • Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine
    • The currently listed Act-HIB brand will be replaced by the Hiberix brand.