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Nurses support keeping childhood immunisations in primary care

New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) says the Ministry of Health is jumping the gun by funding pharmacies to vaccinate infants before investing more in long-established immunisation service providers.

Kaiwhakahaere Ms Kerri Nuku said NZNO fully supported the call for greater investment in primary care to increase childhood immunisation rates instead of transferring responsibility for vaccinations elsewhere.

"We have established, skilled and qualified people in Primary Health Care who have been trained already. They need to be fully supported or supported better.

"We've got a whole sector of nurses including enrolled nurses who have had much trouble becoming vaccinators. It’s not easy even for a registered nurse to become a vaccinator."

Ms Nuku said pharmacies should only be used as a last resort for childhood immunisations after all avenues to enable primary care personnel had been exhausted.

"Let us first utilise the systems that are already available, and let's make sure they are fully supported to be able to deal with the workloads.

"It is primary health care that looks after people from birth to death. Investing in training a whole other sector before exploring all options in the established one makes little sense."

NZNO is also disappointed that key role players such as primary care GPs and nurses were not brought into discussions prior to decisions such as Covid vaccinations and the subsequent transition of unregulated workforce transferring their skills across to childhood immunisation were made.

"Again, we are being told what is being done and not consulted beforehand. The traditional place of vaccinations is with nurses so we should be having some say in these decisions."

Ms Nuku said she also agreed with the General Practice Owners Association (GenPro) that additional funding, especially into the nursing workforce, was a logical option given the issue of pay disparity for primary care nurses and the associated loss of workforce capacity.

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