Vaccination in New Zealand – Know Your Rights

Part 1 – A Quick Introduction to Your Parental Rights


New Zealand is one of the best countries in the world to be living in if you want to be able to choose what to do with you and your family regarding vaccines. I hear and read on a daily basis horror stories from the US, Australia and England of parents being ordered to give vaccines to their children, of vaccines being given without parental consent or, worst of all, parents who have had their children taken away and put in foster care because they do not consent to giving their children vaccines or other potentially dangerous medications. One thing we need to make sure of, today and for future generations, is that it stays this way.


While I was pregnant for the first time in 2007 I was new to this country and new to motherhood. It was a strange time and one I will savour for the rest of my life. It began a new journey of self discovery which continues today. The multitude of decisions I had to make for my unborn child seemed limitless, and so it remains today for my two little girls.


Below I have complied a guide for parents which should help you access the information it has taken me years to familiarize myself with. Beginning with something about New Zealand you may not know.


New Zealand is a sovereign state with a democratically elected parliamentary government. Constitutional history dates back to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, when Maori ceded sovereignty to the British Queen. It is a founding member of the Commonwealth and the United Nations and is politically stable.”


The Ministry of Health supports immunisation but it is your choice whether or not you agree to your child being immunised. The immunisations your children receive will be recorded in their Well Child Tamariki Ora Health Book  and the National Immunisation Register (NIR). Children require an Immunisation Certificate before they attend an early childhood service or start school.

The Well Child Tamariki Ora Health Book is a taonga/treasure – keep it safe and secure as it may be required in the years ahead, for example, to show the Immunisation Certificate at an early childhood service or school, or when your child is older and travels to other countries for study or work.”




The Well Child/Tamariki Ora Health vaccine portion of the book given to you, usually by Plunket, does not need to be filled out. You will be asked to show it in certain circumstances but if you do not vaccinate your child, they will not need to see it. All you need to do is simply state you are not vaccinating your child. This needs to be made clear to first time parents because stating the vaccine portion of the book needs to be filled out is misleading. You can also opt to have your children taken off the National Immunisation Register (NIR). I highly recommed doing this. It is something I have neglected to do, but will soon.


Part 2 – What is on the Vaccine Schedule?


Below is a list of all of the childhood vaccines, excluding Gardasil, listed on the New Zealand Immunisation Schedule released by the Ministry of Health. You can find a current Schedule at I recommend you print this for your own records.


1. Infanrix Hexa vaccine is manufactured by Glaxo Smith Kline Pharmaceuticals. It is a relatively new 6 in 1 combination vaccine which is designed for the following diseases: Diphtheria, Tetanus, Acellular Pertussis (Whooping Cough), enhanced inactivated Polio, Hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b (HIB). This vaccine is given at 6 weeks, 3 months and 5 months.


Here is the data sheet-



2. Synflorix is also made by Glaxo Smith Kline and is a Pneumococcal vaccine made to “help protect

your child against diseases such as: meningitis, blood infection, pneumonia and ear infection caused by ten types of the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae.” This is given at 6 weeks, 3 months, 5 months and 15 months.


Data sheet –



3. Act-HIB is made by Sanofi Pasteur and is given for Haemophius influenzae type B (HIB). HIB is also included in the Infanrix-hexa injections so each child is getting 4 shots of this particular vaccine if following the MOH recommended New Zealand Immunisation Schedule. This is given at 15 months.


Here are some links, including data sheets for this vaccine-



4. M M R II is licensed by Merck & CO., Inc. and is a live vaccine given for Mumps, Measles and Rubella. Since it is a live vaccine it does not contain preservatives like formaldehyde or Thimerosal.

It is given at 15 months & 4 years of age.


Data sheets-



5. Infanrix-IPV is manufactured by Glaxo Smith Kline and is a combined vaccine for Diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis (DTPa) and inactivated polio virus. It is given at 4 years of age.

Data sheets-



6. Boostrix is made by Glaxo Smith Kline. It is a Tetanus toxoid, reduced Diphtheria Toxoid and Acellular Pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine which is given at 11 years in New Zealand. This vaccine is recommended by the manufacturers to be given only after 10 years of age and to adults. As of March 2012 a new warning has been placed in the data sheets/package inserts of this and other common vaccines. The warning states this vaccine may cause Syncope, which is fainting and can be caused and/or accompanied by neurological complications.


Data sheets- (PLACE PHOTO 2 HERE)



These are all the vaccines listed on the NZ Immunisation Schedule for children up to age 11. There are other vaccines available but they are not paid for by the Government since they are not recommended. Some of the common ones are listed below.


Rotarix is another vaccine manufactured by Glaxo Smith Kline which is being marketed heavily in New Zealand. It is designed to prevent Rota Virus and is a series of three vaccines administrated orally. This vaccine is not paid for by the government, so the patient is responsible for the cost. Here is a link to the package insert.



MeNZB vaccine was taken off the schedule in late 2000’s. This is said to be because the campaign was successful. It is still available at the client’s cost and is given at 6 weeks, 3 months, 5 months and 10 months.


Data sheet-


Here is an interesting video to watch about the history of this vaccine. this is 1 of 4 parts.



As for chicken pox, I do not know which one is offered in New Zealand if you wish to pay for it. It is not on the childhood Immunisation Schedule and for that I cheer New Zealand. Wherever else it is on the childhood schedule it has been noted that shingles has become more common in that population. system/ files/ documents/ publications/ 18varicella.pdf


The flu shot is one I have not looked into much. I know it is recommended and depending on age and risk factors it is offered yearly for free in New Zealand. I do not know which type is offered, but since this blog offers many resources it should be easy to acquire the information if you ever need to research it for yourself or a loved one.



Part 3-An Example of What to Look For on Vaccine Data Sheets



Here is an example from part of a data sheet for the Infanrix Hexa vaccine:


Before vaccination



  • your child has had an allergic reaction to INFANRIX hexa, or any ingredient contained in this vaccine. The ingredients in INFANRIX hexa are listed at the end of this leaflet. Signs of an allergic reaction may include itchy skin rash, shortness of breath and swelling of the face or tongue.If your child had INFANRIX hexa before and became unwell, tell your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before the next dose is given.
  • your child experienced a disease of the brain within 7 days after previous vaccination with a pertussis containing vaccine.
  • your child has had an allergic reaction to any other diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, inactivated polio or Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine (such as ENGERIXB®, H-B-Vax II™, INFANRIX®, Triple Antigen™, Tripacel™ or IPOL™ vaccine, HIBERIX®).
  • your child has a severe infection with a high temperature. A minor infection such as a cold should not be a problem, but talk to your doctor or nurse about this before vaccination.
  • the expiry date printed on the pack has passed.
  • the packaging is torn or shows signs of tampering.


If you are not sure whether your child should have INFANRIX hexa vaccine, talk to your doctor or nurse. Do not give this vaccine to anyone else; your doctor has prescribed it specifically for your child.


  • your child has any medical problems such as:
    • brain disease or central nervous system (CNS) disease (ie. epilepsy etc.)
    • a bleeding problem or bruises easily
    • lowered immunity due to medical treatment or a medical condition
    • a tendency to febrile convulsions (seizures/fits due to a fever or high body temperature)
    • a family history of seizures/fits
    • a family history of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
    • allergy to the antibiotics: neomycin and polymyxin.
  • after having INFANRIX hexa or another pertussis containing vaccine (such as INFANRIX® or Tripacel) your child had any problems, especially:
    • a high temperature (over 40.0C) within 2 days of vaccination
    • a collapse or shock-like state within 2 days of vaccination
    • crying lasting 3 hours or more within 2 days of vaccination
    • convulsions (seizures/fits) with or without a fever within 3 days of vaccination
  • your child has allergies to any other medicines or substances, such as dyes, foods or preservatives
  • your child has received another vaccine recently, or is having any prescription or OTC (over-the- counter) medicines. In particular, mention if your child is being given medicines which suppress the immune system, such as high-dose steroids


Some vaccines may be affected by other vaccines or medicines. Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist will be able to tell you what to do if INFANRIX hexa is to be given
with another vaccine or medicine.

Fainting can occur following, or even before, any needle injection, therefore tell the doctor or nurse if your child fainted with a previous injection.”



Part 5 – Vaccine Ingredients and Being Confident With Your GP



So, how are you to know what the ingredients are in this and any other vaccine? It is safe to assume your GP or Nurse will not know, therefore it is important to find out before you go to the GP’s office for the first time with your newborn baby. Here is a link to a handy list of some vaccines and their ingredients.


You will need to print this off and bring it with you. You should also study and research the ingredients yourself before you go to the appointment so you are confident with the information you have.


These two links are good for that purpose- (place photo 3 here)



Part 6 – Links, Links and More Links



Some helpful links to do your own research-




If you or your child has a reaction to a vaccine here is where you need to report it:



Please refer to the following videos for further information:



Part 7 – More Info on Childhood Immunisations in New Zealand


From the HealthEd website:

Immunisation records and the Immunisation Certificate

Your doctor or nurse will keep a record of the immunisations your child has been given. This information is also held on the National Immunisation Register. They will also record the immunisation in your child’s Well Child Tamariki Ora Health Book.

All parents will be asked for the Immunisation Certificate when their child is starting at an early childhood service, kōhanga reo or primary school. The certificate is in the back of your child’s Well Child Tamariki Ora Health Book. The certificate shows whether your child has completed the series of childhood immunisations. Your doctor or nurse will sign the certificate when giving the 15-month immunisations and again after the four-year-old immunisations.

You will still be asked to produce a signed certificate even if you have decided not to have your child immunised. Your doctor or nurse can sign the certificate at any time. Children can still attend an early childhood service or school even if they have not been immunised.

What the Immunisation Certificate is used for

The information on the certificate will be recorded on the early childhood service or school register, which you may check. If your child starts before the age of 15 months, the certificate is shown once they are 15 months old.

The Medical Officer of Health will check the register if there is a threat, or an outbreak, of disease in your area. Children who have not been immunised will be offered immunisation. Those who have not been immunised may be asked to stay at home until the disease has gone to help stop it spreading.

The National Immunisation Register

The National Immunisation Register (NIR) is a computerised information system that holds the immunisation details of your child. Your lead maternity carer, family doctor or practice nurse will discuss the NIR with you, including what information is collected and stored and who can access the information.

The NIR helps you and your health care provider, such as your family doctor, to keep an accurate record of your child’s immunisations. This will help to make sure that your child receives the appropriate immunisations at the recommended ages. Children may visit many different health care providers for their health care. The NIR will make sure that information about your child’s immunisations is available even if they receive health services in another part of the country (if you shift to another area, or to another doctor).

The NIR will also tell your health care provider when your child’s next immunisations are due or if they are overdue.

You can choose not to have your child’s information stored on the NIR, but you will need to complete and sign a form that your lead maternity carer, family doctor or practice nurse can provide.

For additional information, talk to your doctor, practice nurse or lead maternity carer.  A separate pamphlet on the NIR is also available (code HE1501).




On 1 July 2012 the management and purchasing of vaccines transferred from the Ministry of Health to PHARMAC.”


Before a vaccine is approved for use in New Zealand, the manufacturer must demonstrate its safety and effectiveness to the satisfaction of Medsafe, a division of the Ministry of Health.”


In 2012 some pharmacists will be able to offer privately purchased influenza immunisations.”


Current regulations and standards for authorisation of vaccinator (PDF, 241.75 KB)


If you or your child has a reaction to a vaccine here is where you need to report it. Yes, I know this was already placed above, but it is important not to miss this.



No vaccination certificates are required to enter New Zealand. Visitor Information New Zealand has an extensive visitor information network providing visitors with free and comprehensive local knowledge to help you plan your trip.



Overall, the information above is a good starting point for anyone beginning the almost overwhelming task of researching vaccines. I wish I had found something like this when I began my research almost 6 years ago, but I’m pleased to be able to share my knowledge with you. Best of luck to you all.