There remains a public health risk of influenza even with the current border settings and it is important the programme continues to ensure background immunity is maintained and our most vulnerable are protected.
Find IMAC's 'Everything you need to know about Flu 2021' handbook and related resources on the front page of www.influenza.org.nz.
Please continue to allow a two-week gap between the COVID-19 vaccine and influenza vaccine where possible, regardless of the order they’re given.
There are no clinical safety concerns should the gap between vaccines be less than the recommendations above. Do not delay vaccination if such a gap is not possible.
The programme focus is on immunising people who are eligible for a funded vaccination first, to help protect people at greatest risk.
The official start date for the flu immunisation programme is 14 April 2021 for those aged 65 years and over.
Please note residents of rest homes are part of the Group 2 roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 vaccination should be prioritised for this population with flu vaccine following at least two weeks after the second COVID-19 dose.
Some locations in New Zealand are yet to confirm COVID-19 vaccination dates for this population. If your practice has a rest home contract, in an area that has not yet confirmed COVID-19 vaccination dates for this population, you are encouraged to go ahead with flu vaccination.
PHARMAC is funding an additional vaccine brand for adults aged 65 and over – FLUAD® QUAD.
Outside of the Counties Manukau DHB area, the focus is to immunise as many people aged 65 and over (who are not residents of rest homes) from 14 April so they can access the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to them.
Due to a manufacturing issue, the influenza vaccines for people aged under 65 years will be available from 17 May 2021. Distribution of these vaccines will begin ahead of this date to ensure all providers have stock ready to begin.
While the official start is date is 14 April, the payments system will accept claims earlier than this date, so any practices who started immunising early will still receive this funding.
It is important to note that each brand is for a specific age group.
Please note that the Afluria Quad carton states: Directions for use: see enclosed leaflet. For the SH2021 season, the enclosed leaflet is the Australian Product Information. Please refer to the New Zealand approved Data Sheet for current information for both Afluria Quad and Afluria Quad Junior at www.medsafe.govt.nz
Seqirus acknowledge the additional workload and logistics for vaccinators in managing four funded brands of vaccine. Their key aim is to ensure there is continuity of vaccine supply for patients.
Afluria Quad, Influvac Tetra and Afluria Quad Junior are expected to be available to order from HCL’s website from 27 April. HCL’s website will contain more detailed information as it becomes available.
As with the MMR campaign, Pinnacle is working to support practices by providing regular updated lists of patients eligible for vaccination. These can be used by practices for vaccine planning such as knowing how many vaccines you will need, and also for recalling individual patients. We have tried to reduce the number of query builds that practices need to produce to recall patients. These lists will be available through your Healthlink folders from early April.
MOH will be providing funding to support influenza vaccination for health and disability sector employees, self-employed lead maternity carers and carers employed under individualised funding arrangements who:
Further information on how to claim is available on the Ministry of Health website.
Wherever possible, please make sure you record influenza vaccination on the NIR. The NIR is the most accurate source of information for the Ministry about how many vaccines have been administered and how many are still likely to be in circulation and guides their decision making on this issue.
When loading a vaccine such as influenza or Zostavax to the practice management software (PMS), nurses need to please put the GP name in the 'Provider' field (not themselves) and the vaccinators name in the 'Vaccinator' field. If this information is not recorded correctly, the vaccinations will not be counted on the National Immunisation Register and also effects payment. For more information contact Helen Ride, Waikato immunisation facilitator.
A reminder the Ministry of Health requests that once a patient turns 65 years of age, their flu vaccination claim must be categorised as 65+ years, even if they have previously qualified in other ways for the funded influenza vaccine (such as for other conditions). This ensures coverage of accurate data for the 65+ age group. Please also be sure to inactivate any old recalls for other flu codes, if you need assistance with this please contact your practice development facilitator.
For nurses who are authorised vaccinators, administration of the seasonal flu vaccine to patients who do not fit within the national immunisation schedule requires either a) a standing order or b) the authorisation of the local medical officer of health. Please refer to the authorisation from the medical officers of health below for each Pinnacle MHN locality.
Waikato DHB medical officer of health, Dr Felicity Dumble, has given approval to all vaccinators within the Waikato region who have been authorised by her to administer the influenza vaccine to those ineligible for funded vaccine. This approval means that standing orders or prescriptions do not need to be used when the vaccine is being administered by an authorised vaccinator who has the appropriate knowledge and skills.
Medical officer of health for Hauora Tairawhiti, Dr Osman Mansoor, has authorised all vaccinators within the Tairawhiti region to administer the influenza vaccine to those ineligible for funded vaccine, for vaccinations given in the practice. For outreach programmes, such as in workplaces, he asks to see the documentation that they have met the requirements of an outreach programme. The full letter, dated 22 January 2021 and sent to authorised vaccinators, is linked below.
The medical officers of health have set in place a process to approve a local immunisation programme, which is valid for two years, for the administration of influenza vaccine (and other specified vaccines) to those ineligible for funded vaccines. Applicants need to complete the application template, attach a copy of all their nurses' current vaccinator approval certificates, Cold Chain Accreditation certificate and other specified copies and send to: firstname.lastname@example.org (attention Estelle Steinmann).
A standing order template (standing orders resource page linked below) is available for administration of the flu vaccine by a registered nurse who is not an authorised independent vaccinator or those who have completed the provisional vaccinator foundation course (for the two assessment vaccinations and until authorised only).
The existing process for standing orders applies whereby the practice team need to review this if it is being used and ensure it is signed by a GP/ Mātanga Tapuhi NP and each practice nurse working under it is captured. Please use this template to create a standing order template for your practice.
Visit the influenza website for all information relating to the 2021 influenza vaccination programme.
It is recommended COVID-19 vaccines are not administered within two weeks of an influenza vaccine. For front line staff, the priority is the COVID-19 vaccination. Each DHB is rolling out the phased MOH approach with healthcare workers considered tier 2A.