Common education questions

What is an authorised or pharmacist vaccinator?

An authorised vaccinator is usually a nurse who has been authorised by the local Medical Officer of Health (associated with every Public Health Unit) to deliver vaccinations on the National Immunisation Schedule, including vaccines for special groups, without the need of a prescription or standing order.

Pharmacist vaccinators are not required to apply to the Medical Officer of Health but should advise the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand that they have completed the above requirements.

How do I become an authorised or pharmacist vaccinator?

You need to:

  • complete a vaccinator foundation course (VFC) with an online assessment,
  • hold an appropriate CPR certificate,
  • complete a clinical assessment, and
  • then apply to your local Medical Officer of Health for authorisation*.  

Authorisation may be given to provide National Immunisation Schedule vaccines to all age groups or restricted to older ages only (ie, deltoid administration only) depending on local requirements and scope of clinical assessment.  

*Pharmacist vaccinators are not required to apply to the Medical Officer of Health but should advise the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand that they have completed the above requirements.

Can I register for a VFC if I’m not employed in a setting that offers vaccination services?

Funded places available on FLVFC

This course is currently fully funded by Te Whatu Ora HNZ to support new vaccinators in the workforce. To be eligible to complete this course you will need to be employed in a vaccinating role, or moving to a vaccinating role and have (or can arrange) a clinical placement to ensure course completion.

Non-funded 2-day VFC

You don’t need to be employed in a vaccinating role to register for the 2-day VFC, however there is a cost for this.

Note: if you are not currently employed in an area that offers vaccination services, it can be very difficult to complete the full authorisation process, particularly the clinical assessment. Neither IMAC nor the local immunisation coordinators are responsible for arranging a clinical placement where you can undertake a clinical assessment.

It is recommended that you complete the clinical assessment within 6 months of completing the course.

Please refer to the Vaccinator foundation course standards for more information.

How do I register for a course?

Have a look at the current courses (including registration instructions) or browse our workforce role pages.

I'm a pharmacist. What process do I have to follow?

Pharmacist vaccinators are 'approved' to administer certain vaccines; please see the online version of the A4.1.4 of the Immunisation Handbook for more information. When a pharmacist has completed a VFC and an independent clinical assessment, or a subsequent vaccinator update, they should advise the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand (PSNZ) by email.

Some pharmacists work in areas, such as outreach immunisation services where they will offer a wider range of vaccines than those currently classified for pharmacist vaccinator use, in these circumstances you will need to complete the process of applying for authorisation. Check with your local immunisation coordinator for any additional requirements in your area.

What is the difference between the flexible learning and the 2-day vaccinator foundation course?

To become an authorised or pharmacist vaccinator, you need to complete a VFC. You can complete either a 2-day VFC or a flexible learning vaccinator foundation course (FLVFC). Both cover the same content but are delivered differently.

The FLVFC involves working through online self-study over approximately 12-14 hours, followed by a 4-hour face-to-face tutorial and an online learning assessment. The 2-day VFC is held as a face-to-face tutorial over 2 full days followed by an online learning assessment.  

Completing either of the foundation courses (FLVFC or VFC) is the first step towards attaining your vaccinator authorisation or pharmacist vaccinator status.

If you have previously completed a VFC:

  • but did not complete the authorisation process,
  • have let your authorisation lapse,
  • or did not complete the other requirements,  

please look at A4.1.4 of the Immunisation Handbook for guidance on whether you need to enrol again in a VFC or talk to your local immunisation coordinator.

If I am an enrolled nurse can I complete a VFC and become an authorised vaccinator?

Yes

If I am a midwife/nurse practitioner/nurse prescriber, do I need to do a VFC?

Midwives

Vaccination sits within midwifery scope of practice. Midwives can administer funded vaccines to pregnant women and postpartum to 6 weeks, and Hep b and immunoglobulin to infants at the time of birth. To administer these, midwives do not need to complete further training beyond their pre-registration programme.

Currently midwives can also administer COVID-19 vaccines to any eligible person once they have completed the COVID-19 vaccinator education. Administering any other vaccines is outside of scope of practice. Midwives who are also registered nurses can complete a VFC and become authorised vaccinators in order to administer vaccines to other groups.

Nurse practitioners

If vaccination sits within scope of practice as deemed by the Nursing Council of NZ, nurse practitioners do not need to complete a VFC to administer vaccines. We recommend that all vaccinators keep up to date by completing appropriate vaccinator courses including two-yearly updates.

RN Prescribers in Primary Health and Specialty Teams

Do not need to apply for authorisation but they must meet and maintain all the requirements to be an authorised vaccinator, including completion of a VFC and two-yearly updates, hold a current CPR and APC. Vaccines are included in the list of medications they can prescribe.

RN Prescribers in Community Health

Do need to meet vaccinator educational requirements and become authorised vaccinators if they were to vaccinate (without standing orders or prescription) because they do not have vaccines on the limited list of medications they can prescribe within their collaborative team.  

If I am a non-regulated HCP that has completed the VHW pathway and have since become a regulated HCP, do I need to complete a vaccinator foundation course?’

All HCP’s are recommended to complete a vaccinator course appropriate to their professional qualification, this allows them to practice at the top of their vaccinator scope. Anon-regulated HCP that has completed the VHW pathway and have since become a regulated HCP will once qualified as a pharmacist or authorised vaccinator will be able to complete the full vaccination process including gaining consent which is not included in the VHW role.

If I am a paramedic, can I do this course?

Paramedics should contact their local Medical Officer of Health and enquire whether they can become authorised vaccinators in the public health area where they practice. Paramedics can administer vaccines under a standing order.

I only vaccinate adults, which course should I complete?

Vaccinator foundation course (VFC)

Both the 2-day VFC and the flexible learning vaccinator foundation course (FLVFC) cover the whole-of-life schedule. This not only gives you a wider range or knowledge, but should you change career paths at a later stage, you shouldn’t need to re-do this original training (you will need to complete another age-appropriate clinical assessment).

Vaccinator update course (VUC)

All authorised vaccinators and pharmacist vaccinators must complete an update every 2 years to maintain their status. Authorised vaccinators must reapply for authorisation from the local Medical Officer of Health. Pharmacist vaccinators should advise the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand (PSNZ) by email. Both the in-person and online VUCs cover the whole-of-life vaccination programme.

How do I pass the vaccinator foundation course?

Following your face-to-face tutorial as part of the FLVFC or the 2-day VFC, you need to complete an online open-book assessment. To access the online assessment, you need to have attended the tutorial and paid your registration fee (if applicable).

What is the process to become an authorised vaccinator?

Demonstrate that within the preceding 24 months you have attended, completed, and passed a VFC and have received the associated certificate. The VFC must meet the current Vaccinator Foundation Course Standards (published by IMAC) and the course should consist of:

  • a minimum of 16 hours’ educational input
  • a written open-book assessment (minimum 1-hour duration), which may be oral at the facilitator’s discretion

Undergo an independent clinical assessment by an immunisation coordinator or an approved assessor (as agreed by the Medical Officer of Health). Information about the practice environment, including cold chain and emergency management processes, will be collected at the time of the clinical assessment.

Have evidence that they hold a current practising certificate from their registration authority (e.g., Nursing Council of New Zealand, Pharmacy Council of New Zealand).

Have a current cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certificate (see section A4.4 in the Immunisation Handbook for details).

How often do I need to complete a vaccinator update course?

A vaccinator update course (VUC) needs to be completed every 2 years to be eligible to reapply for authorisation or to maintain pharmacist vaccinator* status. The update courses are available face-to-face or online (whole of life).

*Pharmacist vaccinators are not required to apply to the Medical Officer of Health but should advise the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand that they have completed the above requirements.

How do I organise a clinical assessment?

Your clinical assessment can be completed once you have received your certificate upon passing your online open-book assessment. You have up to 2 years to complete your clinical assessment. However, ideally it is completed within 6 months (this can be dependent on opportunity eg, the need to wait for influenza vaccines). Once you are ready, please email your immunisation coordinator to organise a clinical assessment. You will need to arrange to carry out the vaccination of two patients (of appropriate ages) at a suitable venue (eg, general practice or pharmacy with cold chain accreditation). You will need to have organised a prescription or have a standing order that covers you to administer the vaccinations.

Where can I get the Immunisation Handbook?

This is a Ministry of Health resource online only, available here.

Prior to attending a VFC or vaccinator update course, it is important to have read the following sections of the Immunisation Handbook: Introduction, General immunisation principles and Appendices 3 & 4. The Immunisation Handbook can be downloaded as an eBook onto your device from the Ministry of Health website. Ideally do not print the online version as it is updated regularly.

What are the CPR requirements?

You need an appropriate CPR certificate to apply for authorisation or to be a pharmacist vaccinator. The course must cover the following as per section A4.4 in the Immunisation Handbook:

1.      infant, child and adult CPR, including mouth-to-mouth, mouth-to-mask and the management of choking

2.      administration of IM adrenaline for treatment of anaphylaxis

3.      use of an automated external defibrillator

4.      one-and two-person bag valve mask ventilation and mouth-to-mask technique.

Resuscitation training for vaccinators should cover the specific skills outlined above. The use of oxygen, sizing of airways, insertion of intravenous lines and the preparation of emergency medications(except for intramuscular adrenaline) are not skills specifically required of a vaccinator.

I have a query about authorisation, who can I contact?

Firstly, look on the website for the Regional Public Health Unit that covers the area you work or live in as FAQs are often answered there. There will be a contact email or phone number if more information is needed. If you still require help you can check with your local immunisation coordinator. Requirements differ between the public health areas.

How do I find my local immunisation coordinator?

Can I vaccinate without authorisation?

Yes. You can still administer vaccinations without being authorised as long as the vaccines are prescribed by a medical doctor or nurse practitioner, or you are linked to a valid standing order (you are required to read and sign a copy of the standing order). You will need a prescription or standing order for the vaccines you will administer during your clinical assessment. When you are first vaccinating, before you are authorised, ideally you will be supervised by an authorised vaccinator. This is to support you to provide a safe immunisation event. However, their vaccinator status does not cover you to administer the vaccines. You will need a prescription or standing order to do this.

What about COVID-19 vaccinator courses?

There are a range of COVID-19 courses available depending on your role and workforce.

See Courses and events for available courses.

What about TB, mantoux skin testing and BCG vaccination courses?

This online course is available to any health professionals who wish to complete it for their own learning, even if they are not going to administer the BCG vaccine. The clinical component, supervised BCG vaccination and BCG clinical assessment, is only for vaccinators employed in a public health unit or some specialist travel clinics. These vaccinators will need to apply to their local Medical Officer of Health for BCG endorsement after successful completion of all the requirements. Other vaccinators who would like to administer BCG vaccines should discuss this with their local Medical Officer of Health and determine whether they are eligible for endorsement or not, prior to enrolling on the course.

How do I pay for a course or event?

Payment for courses and events is by credit card. Some courses are free of charge and require no payment, just registration.  

Following successful payment, a tax invoice/receipt is emailed to the recipient and can be used for reimbursement if required.  

If your organisation has requested a bulk enrolment on invoice for an event or course (for 5 or more participants to attend a 2-day VFC or a professional development event), please email imaceducation@auckland.ac.nz with your request.  

For bulk enrolments, successful registration will not be confirmed until payment is received.  

Coupons are provided after payment has been received and participants use these to enrol on their course.

I need to transfer or cancel my registration on an event or course.

We understand that for various reasons you may no longer be able to attend a course or event that you have registered for.

Please advise imaceducation@auckland.ac.nz if this is the case and we will transfer you to another course date (this does not include webinars). We would appreciate at least 2 weeks’ notice of transfer but understand that sometimes this is not possible due to sickness/bereavement but would still appreciate notification.

As course places are limited we are only able to transfer you twice within the same calendar year. Please do not register for another course via our website, we will transfer your registration unless otherwise directed.

If a course is cancelled due to low registration numbers, we will be in contact with further options.

Please also refer to Refunds below.

I require a refund. How do I request this?

We are able to provide a refund for a paid event or course given 2 weeks’ notice.

An administration charge may be deducted.

If you do not turn up on the day of your course or event without the required notice, a refund would not be issued. Please contact imaceducation@auckland.ac.nz.

I’ve lost my certificate; how do I get a new one?

Certificates for current courses (2023 onwards) are found in the ‘Awards’ section on the LMS home page. For older certificates, please email us at imaceducation@auckland.ac.nz.

Information sharing

Your contact details may be forwarded to the Immunisation Coordinator, and used for reporting purposes.

Looking for information on the Vaccinating Health Worker education pathway?

For more information, please refer to Immunisation Workforce Non-regulated health professionals

I’ve completed a vaccinator education course overseas, do I need to complete a full vaccinator foundation course in NZ?

IMAC has a recognition of prior learning process, please email Bernadette Heaphy, Programme Manager b.heaphy@auckland.ac.nz with copies of your overseas certificates, copies of the course learning outcomes and a summary of your overseas vaccination experience.