In New Zealand, the ministry of health has created the National Immunization Solution to help healthcare workers record all COVID-19 vaccinations administered in the country. The ministry is also building an Inventory Management System to store information on vaccine stock levels, vaccine locations and distribution, and the vaccine storage temperature. More details on the information enablers approach used by New Zealand, insights from the approach and the level of documentation available are provided below.
New Zealand COVID-19 Vaccine Information Enablers Approach
The National Immunization Solution (NIS)
- New Zealand has a 15-year old register, the National Immunization Register (NIR), that holds the records for all immunizations given to children and some adults in the country.
- The Ministry of Health in New Zealand is replacing the NIR system with the new National Immunization Solution (NIS) to help health workers across the country record vaccinations. Through the system, members of the New Zealand public can access their immunization records digitally.
- The NIS system’s first iteration will be used to support the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine, with future iterations bringing added functionality to the system.
- According to Shayne Hunter, deputy director-general data and digital, the novel system “will ensure that all vaccinators can register vaccinations and will also assist immunization providers to reach those who need vaccinating by using data to target at-risk communities and populations where immunization coverage is low.”
Inventory Management System
- New Zealand’s health ministry is also building an Inventory Management System to hold information on the location of COVID-19 vaccine, the volume/stock levels, and the temperature of storage.
- According to the ministry, the inventory management system will help minimize vaccine wastage by tracking and tracing the COVID-19 vaccines and consumables, and their expiry dates.
- Medsafe, New Zealand’s medicine regulatory board shares information and guidance on the country’s “data requirements for approving COVID-19 vaccines with regulators internationally.” The data shared by Medsafe includes the vaccine’s clinical trials and manufacturing information that can demonstrate vaccine safety and efficacy.
- According to the Ministry of Health, the process has been standard procedure in the country for over 15 years, and it helps reduce the time taken to assess new medicines in the country without compromising on the standards.
- New Zealand’s technical advisory teams will monitor data from clinical trials and learn from the experience of other countries that are already rolling out the vaccines to ensure safety and efficiency.
Reporting Adverse Drug Reactions
- New Zealand’s ministry of health has an adverse drug reaction reporting system, where New Zealanders who experience adverse reactions to the vaccine after administration can report to.
- New Zealanders can send online reports to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM) if they are anxious about the vaccination process, or if they are experiencing real adverse effects to the vaccine.
Insights/Lessons from New Zealand’s Information Enablers Approach
1. Digital Access to Immunization Records
- The new National Immunization Solution (NIS) system has added functionalities to help New Zealanders get their immunization records online.
2. National Inventory Management System
- Other countries can learn from New Zealand’s national Inventory Management System that ensures critical details like vaccines’ storage temperature, locations, volumes, and expiry dates are tracked and traced to minimize wastages and increase vaccine efficacy.
Scale of New Zealand’s Information Enablers Approach
- Based on the level of documentation available on New Zealand’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy in the area of information enablers, we can conclude that the country’s vaccine approach is Yellow.
- This is because the available documents only offer high-level guidance in terms of the strategy or architecture of approach, with no handbooks for implementation.
- The Immunization Advisory Center in New Zealand provides answers to some of the frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccines, but there is no information on information enables.
- The reason for this may be because New Zealand has not yet started vaccinating its citizens as the earliest immunization is expected to start in April 2021.