Mahitahi Hauora initiatives support equitable uptake of immunisation

Mahitahi Hauora is leading a raft of initiatives to improve equitable uptake of immunisation as Northland heads into winter.

Mahitahi Hauora Clinical Director Dr Libby Prenton says Northland is facing a ‘perfect storm’ of infectious illness this winter, with COVID, flu, measles and pertussis, combined with worryingly low immunisation rates across the region, particularly in certain groups such as tamariki Māori.

Alongside that are the challenges faced by general practice to provide immunisation against a backdrop of workforce shortages and heavy primary care workloads.

With funding from Te Aka Whai Ora to address the inequitable immunisation rates for Māori, the Mahitahi Hauora Clinical Hub team is offering several initiatives to support practices to boost immunisation rates. These include:

  • Free influenza immunisations available at general practices and pharmacies in Northland for all Māori and Pasifika patients who are not currently eligible for funded immunisation.
  • Free GP consultations for Māori and Pasifika whānau to discuss questions or concerns about immunisation.
  • Nursing support from the Clinical Hub team with immunisation recalls for practices.
  • Support for practices with planning complex catch-up schedules for tamariki who have missed multiple immunisations.

In addition, the Clinical Hub team are directly contacting whānau to encourage them to immunise tamariki on time.

Clinical Hub Lead Nurse Gaelyn Sinclair pre-calls Māori whānau whose infants are due for scheduled immunisations. The Hub team have used Te Whatu Ora’s Childhood Immunisation Prioritisation Matrix to plan the work, starting with pepi coming up to 6 weeks old, followed by those due the 12-month MMR immunisation. As the initiative rolls out, the Hub team will add other immunisation milestones to the workflow.

“The Hub team have worked closely with the Outreach Immunisation Service in designing this initiative, aiming to understand what is already provided and endeavouring to fill gaps rather than duplicate existing activity,” said Dr Prenton.

The calls started on 27 March, and since then 51 Māori children have been successfully immunised.

Whānau whose tamariki are immunised on time receive a $50 Prezzy card as a ‘thank you’ for protecting the next generation of children growing up in Tai Tokerau.