COVID-19 milestone: 5000th vaccinator completes specialised training

A significant COVID-19 workforce milestone has been reached, with the 5000th vaccinator completing specialised training to administer the vaccine.

A huge amount of work has gone on behind the scenes to boost numbers of trained vaccinators.

The specialised online training has been important to ensure there's sufficient workforce as the COVID-19 vaccine rolls out.

The Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) started running the training for the Pfizer vaccine in February and as of this week, there's been 5,358 vaccinators who’ve completed the programme.

So far, almost 2,000 vaccinators have been involved in actively immunising people since the COVID-19 vaccine rollout started nearly three months ago.

The dedicated vaccinators — nurses, doctors, pharmacists and those in other approved vaccinating professions — are working extremely hard to protect New Zealanders against this virus as the rollout expands into Group 3.

It's important to remember that the most significant roll-out won’t begin until July when vaccinating the general public begins, so we’re preparing our vaccination workforce with that timeline in mind.

Current modelling indicates we’ll need around 1,600 full-time equivalent vaccinators when our vaccination rollout peaks later this year.

Not all of the people trained so far will be available to work full-time, so additional initiatives are also underway to further boost the pool of vaccinators.

Last week, the Ministry of Health started consultation with the health and disability sector about change to the Medicines Regulations to allow people across the country to work as supplementary COVID-19 vaccinators.

This change would target people with health and disability sector experience, including:

  • kaiāwhina
  • internationally-trained healthcare professionals who are not currently registered in New Zealand
  • New Zealand-trained healthcare professionals with lapsed annual practising certificates.

This new workforce would undergo specialist training first and their work would be fully supervised.

This change would increase the numbers of Māori and Pacific in the vaccinator workforce, who are currently under-represented.

Improvements have been made to the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 Surge Workforce database to better support the next phase of the scale-up. Since the database was launched in early last year, there have been many thousands of people register their interest in supporting the programme across various roles, including as vaccinators.