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New Zealand Leveraging Tech to Enhance Public Health

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As of November 2023, the immunisation rate in New Zealand for children at 24 months of age is 83.1% for the three months ending September 30, 2023. The country has a target of 95% of infants completing their primary three months and five months of age as part of the National Digital Identity Platform (NDID). The Ministry of Health’s immunisation strategy aims to improve herd immunity, which occurs when enough people are vaccinated to protect vulnerable individuals, such as infants, the elderly, and those with impaired immune systems.

In light of this, the Minister of Health, Dr Shane Reti, has unveiled digital tools and funding initiatives to enhance immunisation rates. Te Whatu Ora and Te Aka Whai Ora, national public health services, welcome these measures, emphasising their potential to elevate Māori immunisation rates and benefit the immunisation landscape for all babies in Aotearoa.

One of the critical digital products announced by the Minister is “My Health Record” ( This innovative platform empowers individuals to access their health records, with an initial focus on immunisation records. The app, building on the technology developed for COVID-19, serves as a comprehensive personal health record, allowing users to check their immunisation records dating back to 2005 when central recording began.

Dr Nick Chamberlain, Te Whatu Ora National Public Health Service Director, expresses enthusiasm about the launch, stating, “My Health Record will give people the choice of having free access to their personal health information.”

The application complements platforms like GP patient portals, providing an additional means for individuals to manage their health data. Beyond immunisation records, the app’s capabilities are set to expand, incorporating information such as lab test results in the future. Users who have already set up a My Health Account for My Covid Record can seamlessly access My Health Record using the same login credentials, while others can sign up at

In tandem with My Health Record, the Minister announced the expansion of the Aotearoa Immunisation Register (AIR), a vital component of the digital health strategy. This expansion enhances the register’s functionality, allowing health providers to promptly identify gaps in an individual’s immunisation history. The real-time information empowers vaccinators to offer necessary vaccinations on the spot, streamlining the vaccination process and ensuring comprehensive coverage.

Selah Hart, Te Aka Whai Ora Deputy Chief Executive of Public and Population Health, underscores the significance of the AIR expansion. The register not only aids health providers in identifying individuals in need of vaccinations and facilitates outreach efforts. Mobile teams can be dispatched, and community events can be organised based on the data obtained from AIR. Moreover, during outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, accurate vaccination coverage data helps assess public health risks regionally.

The digital approach extends beyond individual health management to population-level interventions. Vaccination providers gain access to AIR through existing Patient Management Systems or the AIR Vaccinator Portal. This integration reduces manual work, allowing more time to contact communities about vaccinations and increasing overall efficiency.

To further support the initiative, the Minister of Health announced a NZ$50 million package over two years to boost Māori immunisation rates. Of this funding, NZ$30 million is allocated to Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency providers, focusing on at-risk populations such as infants, pregnant individuals, and kaumātua. An additional NZ$10 million each is designated for North Island and South Island partners.

Dr Chamberlain emphasises the importance of lifting immunisation rates, especially for Māori babies and children. The comprehensive approach, coupled with the substantial funding, signifies a step towards achieving the national target of 95% immunisation for all children in Aotearoa, regardless of ethnicity. This digital health intervention is poised to improve individual health management and contribute to broader public health outcomes and the nation’s collective well-being.

These strides mark significant progress in New Zealand’s ongoing efforts to enhance immunisation rates, reflecting a commitment to leveraging digital technologies to improve public health. The digital strategy addresses the immediate challenges of the current immunisation rates and lays the foundation for a more resilient and responsive healthcare system in New Zealand.


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