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Immunisation register for all newborns starts

31 October 2005

Immunisation register for all newborns starts in Otago today

From today, all children born in the Otago District Health Board area will automatically be added to the National Immunisation Register (NIR).

The NIR has been rolled out in stages around New Zealand starting in April in Auckland, with 31 October being the “go live” for Otago.

Until now, vaccinations have been recorded in the back of the Well Child/Tamariki Ora (formerly Plunket) books or by the family GP. This has proved to be a problem for families who move around a lot and so are receiving healthcare from different doctors, or for those who have lost their Well Child books, although many of these are kept as a family archive and produced now and then to relive such feats as the cutting of a first tooth.

The last day of October, however, will be the day that marks a turning point in Otago – this is ‘Go Live’ day when the Register will begin recording all babies born on that day and ever after. Their vaccinations will be recorded on the NIR and their history will be accessible to authorised users wherever the child presents for healthcare.

“This is great news for parents,” said Dr Roy Morris, meningococcal B campaign sponsor, for the Otago DHB. “Even for parents with only one child, it can be difficult to remember if the child has had all the required vaccinations. If families move, or have different doctors looking after their child the records can get lost. With the NIR, any doctor or nurse can look up the vaccination record in the doctor’s surgery and check if it is complete.”

Dr Morris said in the past, it has been difficult to get a good picture of vaccination coverage in New Zealand due to relying on incomplete information from practices around the country. “Now we will be able to get accurate national records on vaccination coverage. Most importantly, this will help us to identify groups that are missing out or who have a lower level of coverage,” he said.

The NIR can also record if a parent chooses not to vaccinate their child against a particular disease, or if there are medical reasons not to do so. Parents and guardians may request access to their child’s vaccination history through their health professional. Parents or guardians can choose to “opt-off” and not have the vaccination records of their child on the NIR, in which case an ‘Opt-off’ form must be completed. If no form is completed, the vaccination details of each newborn will automatically go on the NIR.

Babies born before today will continue to have their vaccination details recorded by their family doctor or nurse, but these details will not be recorded on the NIR. Children and teenagers taking part in the Meningococcal B Vaccination Campaign have had their immunisation details recorded on the NIR.

ENDS

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