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COVID-19 vaccinations

What are authorised vaccinators?

Authorised vaccinators are legally authorised to administer vaccines without requiring a prescription or standing order written by a medical practitioner.

As an authorised vaccinator you can only administer vaccines that are part of an approved immunisation programme. These can either be national immunisation programmes approved by the Ministry of Health, such as the National Immunisation Schedule, or Local Immunisation Programmes approved by the Medical Officer of Health.

A Medical Officer of Health at Regional Public Health is responsible for vaccinator authorisation in the greater Wellington region. Regulation 44A of the Medicines Regulations 1984 gives the medical officer of health the power to authorise a vaccinator following a written application.

Authorisation approval is only given for the district in which you are currently working. If you move to another district then you will need to apply to the Medical Officer of Health of the new district for transfer of your approval as an authorised vaccinator.


The authorisation process

You will need to be a registered nurse or midwife in New Zealand in order to be eligible for vaccinator authorisation. To become an authorised vaccinator you will need to apply to the Medical Officer of Health.

Authorisation as a vaccinator is legally valid for a period of two years only. In order to continue your authorisation you will need to reapply to the Medical Officer of Health.

Types of authorisation

There are different types of authorisation offered:

  • Vaccinators of adults, adolescents and children – for those administering National Immunisation Schedule vaccines and particularly infant vaccinations e.g. practice nurses.
  • Vaccinators of adults and adolescents only – for those administering National Immunisation Schedule vaccines, particularly adult vaccination e.g. tertiary education health clinics, sexual health clinics.
  • Limited authorisation vaccinators – for those administering mostly non-schedule vaccinations under an approved Local Immunisation Programme e. g. occupational health providers.

The type of authorisation that you will be granted depends on the vaccinator training and clinical assessment that you have undertaken.

If authorisation is not maintained, a nurse or midwife must work under standing orders or doctor’s prescription for any vaccinations given.

For approval as an authorised vaccinator you will need:

For initial authorisation

  • Completed and signed application form
  • Evidence of annual practicing certificate
  • Have evidence of a current CPR certificate
  • Copy of Vaccinator Training Course (VTC) certificate attended within the last 12 months. These courses are run by IMAC
  • Clinical competence assessment completed by DHB immunisation coordinator/facilitator identifies vaccinator as competent

For renewal of authorisation

  • Completed and signed application form
  • Summary of immunisation practice over preceding 12 months (to include approx. number of vaccines given, type, site, route, location of proposed work in the district, other immunisation responsibilities)
  • Evidence of annual practicing certificate
  • Have evidence of a current CPR certificate
  • Copy of Vaccinator Update Course certificate – minimum 4 hours education. In the Wellington region these updates are run by IMAC
  • Peer review assessment by authorised vaccinator. This is optional unless your authorisation hasn’t been maintained.

If your authorisation has lapsed for over 6 months you will need to complete a peer review before you will be approved as an authorised vaccinator.

If your authorisation has lapsed for over 12 months, you will need to complete a new clinical assessment with your local Immunisation coordinator/facilitator.

For transfer as authorised vaccinator from another district

  • Completed and signed application form
  • Details of proposed work in the greater Wellington region
  • Evidence of annual practicing certificate
  • Have evidence of a current CPR certificate
  • Copy of authorisation in another area

Forms

Local Immunisation Programmes (LIPs)

The Medical Officer of Health may designate a specific immunisation programme as an “approved immunisation programme”. Such programmes are additional to the National Immunisation Schedule. These include but are not limited to non-schedule vaccines like influenza to healthy under 65 year olds, Td after injury, meningococcal and Boostrix or hepatitis B for teenagers or adults.

When a Local Immunisation Programme is approved, nurses who have been authorised by the Medical Officer of Health may administer vaccines covered by that specific programme without a prescription. The decision of the Medical Officer of Health to approve an immunisation programme will depend on the proposed programme meeting criteria to ensure vaccinee safety.

Local Immunisation Programme approval is only given for the district in which you are currently working. If you move to another district then you will need to apply to the Medical Officer of Health of the new district.

Please note: Local Immunisation Programmes do not cover travel vaccines as these need to be prescribed by a doctor after consultation.

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Yellow fever

Yellow fever vaccination and certification (including medical exemption) is a responsibility devolved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to the New Zealand Ministry of Health under the International Health Regulations 2005. Medical practitioners and medical centres who offer yellow fever vaccination need specific approval granted by the Director General of Health upon recommendation of the local medical officer of health.

Information on the specific requirements for yellow fever vaccinators (YFV) or yellow fever vaccinating centre can be found at:

BCG endorsement

From 4 January 2017 to be endorsed as a new BCG vaccinator, the individual must apply to their local medical officer of health and provide the following documented evidence that they:

  • have been nominated by their employer for endorsement as a BCG vaccinator
  • are a current authorised vaccinator
  • have successfully completed a Ministry of Health approved online BCG vaccination course
  • have completed under clinical supervision (by a currently approved BCG clinical assessor) a minimum of five BCG vaccinations and
  • have completed an independent clinical assessment by an approved BCG clinical assessor.

BCG vaccinator endorsement is valid for two years from the date of the BCG vaccinator training.

Note: an approved BCG clinical assessor must be approved by the medical officer of health.

Previously gazetted BCG vaccinators

All BCG vaccinators gazetted prior to 4 January 2017 will be given one off national BCG endorsement by the Ministry of Health for a two year period until 4 January 2019.

Prior to 4 January 2019, these BCG vaccinators will need to apply to their local medical officer of health to renew their BCG vaccinator endorsement if they intend to continue providing BCG vaccination. Refer to the requirements below for renewal of BCG vaccinator endorsement.

It is the BCG vaccinator’s professional responsibility to ensure they apply for regional endorsement.

Two yearly renewal of BCG vaccinator endorsement

To renew BCG vaccinator endorsement, the individual must apply to their local medical officer of health and provide the following documented evidence that they:

  • are a current authorised vaccinator, and
  • have completed an online BCG vaccination update course.

Access to the online BCG vaccination course

To access the BCG online vaccination course go to the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) website.

As with all other IMAC online courses there will be a small charge to access the BCG online course.

BCG vaccinator register

Please note the Ministry of Health's previous register of gazetted BCG vaccinators was retired on 4 January 2019 as it was no longer applicable under the new legislation.

Any new or previously-gazetted BCG vaccinators are confirmed as BCG-endorsed vaccinators by their Medical Officer of Health, who will maintain records locally. No further notification is required to the Ministry of Health.

Moving to another health district

BCG-endorsed authorised vaccinators are approved regionally by Medical Officers of Health and must notify their Medical Officer of Health if ceasing practice or no longer practising in the region. Individuals wishing to practise in another region must be approved beforehand by the Medical Officer of Health, and provide the new local Medical Officer of Health with:

  • evidence of their current vaccinator authorisation and BCG endorsement in another health district, and
  • details of their proposed work in the district.

Access to BCG vaccine

Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine is only available through local District Health Board (DHB) BCG vaccination programmes, to babies and children aged 0-5 that meet the following eligibility criteria (as per the PHARMAC Schedule):

  • they will be living in a house or family/whānau with a person with either current TB or a history of TB
  • they have one or both parents or household members or carers who, within the last 5 years, lived for a period of 6 months or longer in countries with a TB rate ≥ 40 per 100,000 (see current list)
  • during their first 5 years they will be living for 3 months or longer in a country with a TB rate ≥ 40 per 100,000.

Babies under 6 months of age that meet the above eligibility criteria are considered highest priority and midwives should screen babies for referral to local DHB BCG vaccination clinics.

Children aged between 6 months and 5 years may need to have a tuberculin skin test in the first instance to detect whether they have already been infected with TB.

From 2015 to 2018 there was a global shortage of BCG vaccine. Parents or caregivers of older children who met the eligibility criteria over the period the vaccine was unavailable may request BCG vaccination for such children, for assessment on a case-by-case basis.

Further information

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Last updated 29 January 2021.