New Zealand falling behind in new vaccination use

The Immunisation Advisory Centre announced on Monday that New Zealand, while closing equity gaps in immunization coverage, is falling behind other equivalent countries in new vaccine usage.

The report comes as IMAC begins its 8th New Zealand National Immunization Conference in Auckland on September 10. Natives to New Zealand, Maori, were two-thirds less likely to be immunized in 1996, showing a gap compared to European New Zealanders of around 27 percent. The gap today has closed down to two percent.

“We have nearly eliminated the traditional immunization equity gaps for young children from areas of poverty, Māori and Pasifika children,” Dr. Nikki Turner, the director of IMAC, said. “The ongoing challenge, however, is to sustain the energy and enthusiasm for maintaining our targets.”

Turner said that even though there is good news, there is also bad news. In terms of new vaccine usage, like rotavirus and varicella, New Zealand fell behind other equivalent countries. The upcoming conference hopes to tackle this issue and raise awareness about it.

“Although we should celebrate our improvements in immunization, challenges still remain,” Turner said. “We have a current pertussis epidemic, still measles outbreaks, and pockets of low immunity from a history of low delivery rates to certain ages and geographies. Some particular groups of children continue to miss out – some families are very mobile and are often associated with all the challenges related to poverty.”