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Teamwork lifting immunisation coverage nationwide

Teamwork lifting immunisation coverage nationwide

States Services Commissioner Iain Rennie today recognised the collaborative efforts being made throughout the health sector to lift immunisation rates for babies aged eight months.

“With figures showing about 91 per cent of eight-month-old babies having completed their scheduled vaccines as at December 2013, we are making good progress towards reaching the target of 95 per cent by December this year,” Mr Rennie said.

“These results are a credit to the hard work of general practice teams, Well Child providers, community outreach teams, midwives, district health board staff and the national immunisation programme team, all working together,” the State Services Commissioner said. “Because of this, we have gone from having one of the lowest immunisation rates in the OECD to levels that are now comparable with countries against which we traditionally benchmark ourselves,” Mr Rennie said.

Providing information about immunisation to parents of newborns and delivering in-home immunisation service to families who need it are two examples of services being delivered in innovative ways that better protect babies and young children from preventable diseases.

Mr Rennie highlighted a joint initiative by the health sector in the Bay of Plenty, which increased immunisation coverage for this age group by five per cent over six months in 2013, as a great example of teamwork.

“This team approach to increase immunisation coverage clearly works. I congratulate the Bay of Plenty health team for showing the way to deliver better public services that make a real difference for New Zealanders,” Mr Rennie said.

The team includes the Bay of Plenty District Health Board (DHB), the Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation (PHO), general practitioners (GPs), and practice nurses, supported by the Ministry of Health.

In response to low immunisation rates in the area, the Western Bay of Plenty PHO created the role of ‘immunisation advocate and outreach administrator’. Michaela Kamo visits the Tauranga Hospital maternity unit three days a week to meet with new mothers and give them information about the benefits of immunising their babies. She also follows up on babies who are not enrolled with a GP.

“Part of my advocacy role is to make sure everyone is working together to plug any gaps in the system. It’s all about working together well and being more efficient,” Michaela says.

During her visits, Michaela gives pamphlets and resources about immunisation, and tells the new mothers about the free 0800 phone numbers and websites that can help with any questions they may have about immunisation. Michaela also gives new mothers a fridge magnet that lists the date of their baby’s next immunisation.

“I get the biggest response from these fridge magnets – mothers find them really helpful. Parents are just grateful that they can access reliable information about immunisation and can talk it through with someone,” Michaela says.

Michaela supports parents through the immunising process, including making follow-up phone calls and sending text messages. She is also part of an outreach immunisation team that vaccinates babies in their own homes. She and another staff member take turns to accompany vaccinators on home visits. “Mothers appreciate the visit, particularly if they are first-time mothers,” Michaela adds.

The hospital’s Clinical Midwife Manager Esther Mackay says the system works well, with Michaela talking to parents about immunising their babies and administration staff going around the ward every day with a form parents can fill out to register their babies with the local PHO.

Increasing immunisation rates for children aged eight months is one of the Better Public Services priority results.

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