Pharmacists in New Zealand who have completed an approved vaccinator training course and comply with the immunisation standards of Manatū Hauora (Ministry of Health) are able to administer a range of specified vaccines.
Vaccinator education has been included in the intern pharmacist programme giving intern pharmacists the ability to provide vaccinations as well.
Summary of vaccinations that can be administered by a pharmacist vaccinator
Age 3 years and over – limited by clinical assessment.
Age 5 years and over – limited by vaccine licensure and education course completion.
Age 9 years and over as per vaccine licensure.
Pregnant women aged 13 years and older.
Men and women aged 18 years and older.
Age 16 years and over.
Age 3 years and over – limited by clinical assessment.
Age 50 years and over.
More information can be found in the Immunisation Handbook Appendix 4 authorisation and criteria of vaccinators.
Intern pharmacist vaccinators can administer influenza, COVID-19, HPV, and MMR vaccines under the same criteria as a pharmacist vaccinator (as per table). The other vaccines are limited to pharmacist vaccinators due to their classification.
Provisional pharmacist vaccinators and provisional intern pharmacist vaccinators can administer influenza and COVID-19 vaccines under the same criteria; the exception is MMR, which can only be given to those aged 16 years and over.
Please note: the provisional vaccinator training pathway established during the COVID-19 pandemic has closed. If you are wanting to continue in the vaccinator space it is recommended that you complete the vaccinator bridging course to become a pharmacist vaccinator or intern pharmacist vaccinator.
CPR Certification Requirements: Temporary exemptions were issued to extend the expiry date for vaccinator CPR certificates to support vaccinators affected by limited access to CPR training due to COVID-19 disruptions. This has now expired and from 1 January 2023 there should be no vaccinator working with an expired CPR certificate.
Pharmacist vaccinators and intern pharmacist vaccinators are required to undertake vaccinator training and a clinical assessment that meets the same standards as authorised vaccinators. The requirements to maintain competency are also the same.
The practice of all vaccinators must meet the immunisation standards for vaccinators that can be found in the Immunisation Handbook Appendix 4.
IMAC is commissioned by Te Whatu Ora to provide vaccinator training in Aotearoa. There are currently two education pathways to become a pharmacist/intern pharmacist vaccinator.
New vaccinators must complete one of the following IMAC Vaccinator Foundation Education Courses. Both are the same but are delivered differently.
Once learning assessment is complete an independent clinical assessment (including two supervised vaccination events) must be completed. Notification then needs to be sent through to the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand (PSNZ).
Pharmacist/intern pharmacist vaccinators must keep a copy of their clinical assessment paperwork and their vaccinator foundation course certificate within their personnel file. Medicines Control may request evidence of completion. (This clinical assessment is the only evidence of completion, if it is lost recertification will need to be completed).
See Immunisation Handbook A4.1.2 Process for all vaccinators for further details.
The education pathway and authorisation to become a provisional pharmacist vaccinator/provisional intern pharmacist vaccinator closed on 30 September 2022.
Provisional authorised vaccinators (who are pharmacists/intern pharmacists) can complete the vaccinator bridging course (VBC) to upskill and achieve full scope of practice as a pharmacist/intern pharmacist vaccinator and deliver the scope of vaccines available.
Authorisation of a pharmacist/intern pharmacist vaccinator is valid for two years from the date of the VFC or VBC. To maintain status and continue to administer vaccinations as a pharmacist/intern pharmacist vaccinator, authorisation must be renewed two yearly.
To renew vaccinator status, you must complete the pharmacist vaccinator update course and send notification through to the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand (PSNZ).
Other requirements to support application are detailed in the Immunisation Handbook Appendix 4, table A4.1.3.
It is the pharmacist’s responsibility to know when the two-yearly date falls and must have met the requirements before this date. On completion of their vaccinator update course, pharmacists should advise PSNZ.
If it has been less than five years since the vaccinator completed a VFC/FLVFC the vaccinator must complete the pharmacist vaccinator update course and complete an additional clinical assessment (including two supervised vaccination events).
If it has been more than five years since the vaccinator completed a VFC/FLVFC then the vaccinator must complete another VFC/FLVFC as there will have been significant developments in vaccination delivery in that time.
Other requirements to support application are detailed in the Immunisation Handbook Appendix 4, table A4.1.4.
To provide a funded influenza vaccine programme from a community pharmacy the pharmacy must have a signed contract with their respective Te Whatu Ora, Health New Zealand district. Please contact your District Pharmacy Portfolio Manager if you have any questions regarding the contract process.
To administer any COVID-19 vaccine, all pharmacist vaccinators, intern pharmacist vaccinators and and provisional vaccinators need to produce evidence that they have completed the online COVID-19 vaccination education course.
The COVID-19 Vaccinator Education Course Comirnaty 12+ (30mcg) is regarded as the foundation COVID-19 vaccinator education course. It is mandatory that you complete this course before completing other COVID-19 vaccine courses, which are optional. On completion of the relevant courses, you can administer the associated vaccine to the appropriate population.
Note: COVID-19 Vaccinator Education Course AstraZeneca was discontinued September 2022 following the announcement by Te Whatu Ora of the discontinuation of AstraZeneca in Aotearoa.
When vaccinating for COVID-19 please make sure you are using the most up to date resources available to you i.e., the screening tool, the consent form and after your immunisation leaflet.
The COVID-19 Vaccine Operating and Planning Guidelines is a great source of information.
From May 2022, pharmacist vaccinators and intern pharmacist vaccinators can administer influenza vaccines to anyone from 3 years of age. Please refer to www.influenza.org.nz for up-to-date clinical information and eligibility criteria for influenza vaccines.
At the start of each influenza vaccine season community pharmacists should:
Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine
A new service schedule describing the service specifications and eligible groups has been developed for the pharmacy agreement. Each district will implement this individually depending on the needs of their population.
For more information see the IMAC fact sheet MMR immunisation: Key messages and chapters 12 (Measles), 14 (Mumps) and 19 (Rubella) in the current Immunisation Handbook.
We have created a short video showing the process of drawing up Priorix.
Tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap)
Pharmacy access to funded Tdap vaccine has been extended for all eligible people, however the current medicines classification for Boostrix means it can only be administered (by pharmacist vaccinators), to people aged 18 years and older, or to pregnant woman aged 13 years and over. In addition, a pharmacist vaccinator must have access to the necessary information to determine eligibility and to assess the person’s suitability to receive Tdap.
Eligible criteria in a pharmacy setting include:
More information can be found in chapters 6 (Diphtheria), 15 (Pertussis) and 20 (Tetanus) of the Immunisation Handbook.
Provisional pharmacist vaccinators cannot administer Tdap. Te Whatu Ora (Health New Zealand) are encouraging provisional pharmacist vaccinators to complete the vaccinator bridging course to become a pharmacist vaccinator and deliver a broader scope of vaccinations.
Establishing the Tdap service in Pharmacy
Communicate your desire to offer the service to your District Logistics Coordinator (same as COVID-19 vaccines). The medicine will be ordered through the CIR. Contact your District Logistics Coordinator to obtain a site set up form and access to the CIR, if you do not currently use this system and wish to start this vaccination service.
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
Pharmacist and intern pharmacist vaccinators may administer HPV vaccine to people who wish to purchase it. The approved vaccine is Gardasil 9.
More information can be found in the IMAC fact sheet Human papillomavirus (HPV) and chapter 10 (Human papillomavirus) in the current Immunisation Handbook.
Pharmacist vaccinators may administer meningococcal vaccines to people aged 16 years and over. There are two different types of meningococcal vaccine; conjugated and polysaccharide.
Pharmacist vaccinators should be familiar with the range of vaccines and reasons for using different ones. For more information see the IMAC fact sheet Purchase of non-funded meningococcal vaccines for detailed information on meningococcal vaccines and Chapter 13 Meningococcal disease in the current Immunisation Handbook.
Herpes Zoster (Shingles)
Shingrix is a new to the NZ market non-live adjuvanted recombinant protein subunit vaccine. Shingrix vaccine is indicated for the prevention of herpes zoster (shingles) and postherpetic neuralgia in individuals 50 years of age and older and can be administered unfunded, by a pharmacist vaccinator in this instance.
Refer to the IMAC Herpes zoster (shingles) Fact Sheet and chapter 23 Zoster (herpes zoster/shingles) in the current Immunisation Handbook.
When planning a vaccine delivery service, the pharmacist needs to consider vaccine storage, staff training, the physical requirements regarding consultation and waiting space, and emergency and vaccine equipment.
Cold chain management
It is expected that each pharmacy has its’ own site-specific Cold Chain Policy.
Cold chain management in pharmacies is regulated as part of the pharmacy licensing framework administered by Medicines Control. Visit the Manatū Hauora (Ministry of Health) website page National Immunisation Programme cold chain management to read the FAQs on Cold Chain Compliance for Community Pharmacies. The FAQs for immunisation coordinators on vaccine Cold Chain Compliance for community pharmacies is also available.
Community pharmacies who are offering or who plan to offer vaccination services are responsible for complying with all requirements within the Standards (including appropriate equipment, monitoring, recording, and policies and procedures) outlined in the National Standards for Vaccine Storage and Transportation for Immunisation Providers 2017 (2nd Edition). You can also find more information on the cold chain page.
An addendum to the National Standards for Vaccine Storage and Transportation for Immunisation Providers 2017 (2nd Edition) – Addendum June 2021 provides national cold chain standards for management of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The Standards apply to all immunisation providers once they have received the vaccine from the national store and must be read in conjunction with the National Standards.
Immunisation Coordinators will continue to provide community pharmacies with:
Refer to the pharmacy specific cold chain policy or visit our website Regional advisors and local coordinators to obtain the contact details for your local Immunisation Coordinator.
Training pharmacy staff/first aid management
Community pharmacists offering a vaccination service must ensure that all staff are familiar with the service being provided and their role in that service. ALL frontline staff must be aware of the risk of anaphylaxis following immunisation and the pharmacy procedure for its management. It is important to note that while a pharmacist vaccinator requires a CORE immediate - Adult and Child certificate (including management of anaphylaxis and the administration of adrenaline) at least one other member of the team must be able to call for emergency support and have a basic first aid certificate. This is to be always adhered to when vaccination services are provided.
Funded influenza vaccines are ordered through Healthcare Logistics (HCL). HCL cater for most non-funded vaccines as well. Minimum quantities apply and orders can be placed online.
COVID and funded Boostrix vaccine orders are placed through CIR.
Other vaccines can be ordered through the pharmacy’s pharmaceutical wholesaler.
Pharmacy vaccination standard operating procedures (SOPs) should be a mainstay of the pharmacy’s vaccination set up. They are a living document that detail written instructions describing the specific steps to follow in activities under defined conditions. They ensure the continuity of processes and show that there are strategies in place for risk management and harm minimisation. These SOPs should be site specific and sit alongside the pharmacy’s site-specific cold chain policy. All vaccination staff should be familiar with these policies and know where to find them.
Pharmacists and other staff should be familiar with their local procedures around sharps management and injury, resuscitation/anaphylaxis management and incident reporting.
Click on this link to download the Management of anaphylaxis chart that describes the key features and management of anaphylaxis in pharmacies and includes the recommended adrenaline dose for all ages.
Vaccination and waiting areas
Prior to establishing a vaccination service, the pharmacist must ensure that they have a space that enables them to administer vaccines in a safe manner that provides for patient privacy and confidentiality. Consideration of where your client will wait for the post-immunisation wait time¥ is also important. They should always be within line of sight. Your Immunisation Coordinator can provide advice on this.
¥ COVID-19 vaccination wait time is 15 minutes. For other vaccinations the 20-minute waiting period continues to be the best option. However, adolescents aged 13 years or older and adults who are receiving only an influenza vaccination and who meet ALL the following criteria may not need to wait for 20 minutes post-vaccination:
Physical setup considerations/privacy
You should consider the organisation of your ‘vaccinating space’. To facilitate a conversation that provides for ‘informed’ consent you should have at least two chairs available. Having this conversation while the client and/or you are standing is not good practice. It implies you are in a hurry and it is not comfortable for many people.
Can you access the adrenaline and emergency equipment quickly? Are you left or right-handed? The syringe and needle are placed in the sharps bin immediately after removing from the client's arm. Can you reach it? You may need to reposition chairs etc. to provide for your comfort and the client’s safety.
Do you require/have computer access in the room? Are patient leaflets and any forms required, hand sanitiser, swabs, plasters etc. accessible? This video discusses setting up your work area.
To revise vaccine administration please refer to Chapter 2 Processes for safe immunisation in the current Immunisation Handbook and your vaccinator foundation course training. All vaccinators must:
The following videos provide a brief guide to vaccination and basic overviews of the preparation and administration of meningococcal, MMR, and Tdap vaccines.
The Aotearoa Immunisation Register (AIR) is preparing to launch its new vaccinator portal which will support vaccinators from all parts of the sector to record vaccinations and view vaccination history currently existing in the National Immunisation Register (NIR) and the COVID Immunisation Register (CIR). The portal is being developed in stages. A pilot is planned for late September, after which providers will be invited to adopt in defined stages.
National Immunisation Register (NIR)
The NIR is a national database, held by the Manatū Hauora (Ministry of Health). The NIR provides an accurate record of a person’s vaccination history, to help with their ongoing health care even if they change doctors, and to help the Ministry measure vaccination coverage across the whole population.
Pharmacist vaccinators are required to use the NIR web application called ImmuniseNow to check the client’s immunisation history and any alerts or contraindications prior to vaccination and, when the client has given consent, record administration of all funded vaccinations. Pharmacists are also encouraged to record administration of non-funded vaccinations in ImmuniseNow.
ImmuniseNow is only available via the Connected Health network on the PC, which must be on the PC you are using to access the application.
How do I access ImmuniseNow?
Request an NIR Authorised User Agreement (AUA) for pharmacies form from the Ministry of Health Support team.
COVID Immunisation Register (CIR)
Once staff have completed the required training, the Health District or provider workforce lead must confirm to the Te Whatu Ora that the staff member is ‘approved’; Te Whatu Ora will then provide access to the live CIR environment.
Note: An organisation email address must be supplied for any CIR user to obtain access to the live CIR environment.
The pharmacy vendors, RxOne and TONIQ, have made the necessary system changes to support you in claiming for the cost of the vaccine and the administration fee when a funded vaccine is given to an eligible patient. Please contact your software vendor if you have any questions about the changes.
Vaccinators must ensure that all untoward incidents are reported appropriately following local procedures, including their Immunisation Coordinator. Attached is the IMAC Vaccine incident reporting form for online completion, which should be used if a local/provider incident form is not available.
Te Whatu Ora have a NIP incident notification form which can also be used, once again the local Immunisation Coordinator should also be notified. Errors should also be recorded in CIR if that system is being used i.e., for COVID-19 or influenza vaccines.
Adverse events following immunisation (AEFIs) should be reported to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM). Vaccinators should also notify their local Immunisation Coordinator when making a CARM report.
Immunisation data is collected through the NIR and CIR however, community pharmacies may occasionally be asked to participate in audits, for example through PHO’s, DHB’s or pharmacy organisations or research projects, for example by IMAC. They may also choose to undertake their own audits within the pharmacy or pharmacy group.
Some pharmacies may offer an off-site immunisation service e.g., vaccinating staff in a workplace or patients in a rest home. The requirements for off-site programmes are outlined in Appendix 4 in the current Immunisation Handbook. Pharmacist vaccinators and intern pharmacist vaccinators must also meet the cold chain requirements for offsite vaccination described in the National Standards for Vaccine Storage and Transportation for Immunisation Providers 2017 (2nd Edition). Community pharmacies are not required to apply to the Medical Officer of Health for programme approval.