Click here for information on funded immunisations/vaccinations
Click here for information on travel vaccinations
Immunisation is a well proven way of preventing serious infectious diseases, by stimulating a person’s immune system. We encourage everyone to make an informed decision regarding you and your family’s immunisation, and recommend information from reputatable sources that contain accurate, objective, relevant and understandable information, such as the Ministry of Health, the Immunisation Advisory Centre, and the World Health Organisation. We are also here to help you with our knowledge, and keep you and your family healthy and safe.
Below are information on non-funded vaccinations. They are recommended but not currently funded by the government. If you would like to have a non-funded vaccination, because make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your needs.
Chickenpox is a very common childhood illness causing fever and an itchy blistering rash. Adults can get it and they are particularly ill with it. It is very infectious and patients usually need to stay home for at least one week. Having had chickenpox, a person will have a 1 in 3 risk of developing shingles later in life.
Although it is now part of the funded childhood immunisation schedule, it is only for one dose when a child turns 15 months old. The efficacy of one dose of Varilrix® in preventing chickenpox of any severity is only about 70% (but is often quoted as 90% in preventing moderate or severe chickenpox), whereas two doses at least 6 weeks apart will increase its efficacy to close to 99%.
We therefore recommend children to have their first dose from as early as 9 months old (non-funded), and they would still qualify for the funded second dose at 15 months old. Although the vaccine is normally given before exposure, limited protection may be obtained if vaccinate up to 72 hours after exposure to a case of chickenpox. Please note the vaccine cannot be given if pregnant, immunosuppressed or allergic to neomycin.
See Ministry of Health for further information.
Most of us would have had chickenpox in the past, and the virus actually hides in your nerves near the spine. When we are run down, the virus emerge and develops into shingles, which commonly appears as a painful band of blisters. Most people who had it will say it is an unpleasant illness, especially if shingles is complicated by nerve pain which can lasts for months to years.
Zostavax® is recommended from the age of 50 for prevention of shingles, and only one dose is required. It is less effective in preventing shingles the older you get it, but will as good in reducing the chance of getting nerve pain, which is the most debilitating part of shingles. If you had shingles, you can still get the vaccine but must wait until at least 6 months after an episode.
See Zostavax website for more information.
Influenza (or flu) can be a serious illness particularly in elderly, pregnant women or people with ongoing medical conditions. The “flu jab” is therefore highly recommended and free is those groups, but everyone can benefit from it. It is an annual immunisation due to frequent change in viral strains, and the vaccine is availabe each year from March. Children aged under 9 having flu vaccine for the first time need 2 doses 4 weeks apart.
People who are eligible for a free flu vaccine:
- Pregnant women (any stage of pregnancy)
- Anyone aged 65 years or over
- Children aged 6 months to under 5 years who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness
- Anyone aged 6 months to under 65 years with any of the following medical conditions:
- Chronic heart problems, excluding high cholesterol or high blood pressure if they have not caused problems with other organs
- Cerebrovascular disease
- Chronic breathing or lung problems, excluding asthma if regular preventative therapy is not required
- Chronic kidney disease
- Cancer that is not in remission, excluding skin cancers if not invasive
- Other conditions (such as autoimmune disease, immune suppression, immune deficiency, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), transplant recipients, neuromuscular and central nervous system diseases, cochlear implant, error of metabolism at risk of major metabolic decompensation, pre- or post-splenectomy, Down syndrome, haemoglobinopathies and children on long term aspirin)
See Fight Flu website for more information.
Whooping cough vaccine
Pertussis (or whooping cough) is sometimes called the “hundred day cough” and can be an annoying illness for most people, but for babies under 12 months old it can be very serious. If caught at that age, half requires hospitalisation with 1-2% mortality, because babies are very symptomatic, having the characteristic “whoop” when trying to breath, and can get apnoea attacks where they stop breathing. Although it is part of the childhood immunisation, the first dose starts at 6 week old, therefore the best protection is vaccination during the third trimester of pregnancy so that maternal immunity get passed on to the newborn.
Pregnant women are eligible for a free whooping cough vaccine during 28 to 38 weeks of pregnancy (one for every pregnancy, as it is for the baby), as well as free flu vaccine during any stage of pregnancy (ideally start of the flu season around March/April). It is also highly recommended that close family members get vaccinated, but they are not funded.
Pneumoccocal disease is caused by a bacteria called Strep pneumoniae, which is responsible for causing the majority of pneumonia (lung infection), septicaemia (blood poisoning) and is one of the two main cause of bacterial meningitis (the serious type). There are about 90 strains and it normally lives in people’s nose and throat, waiting for a chance to cause an infection, usually when a person is run down such as during a viral infection like a cold or flu. Fortunately it has been a regular part of the childhood immunisation, but its immunity wane the older you get.
For the prevention of pneumonia (lung infection) and invasive pneumococcal disease, the government only funds a narrow group of patients including severe immunocompromised and splenectomy, and recommends but not fund people over age 65 or patients with increased risks such as COPD, see Ministry of Health.
There are two non-funded pneumococcal vaccines available, Pneumovax23 and Prevenar 13. The older and cheaper Pneumovax23 covers 23 different strains but its immunity diminish over time because it is a polysaccharide vaccine. However the newer and more expensive Prevenar 13 induce a superior and strong immunity with longer “memory”, but only covers 13 strains. To get the best of both worlds, it is recommended to have Prevenar 13 first to mount a strong immune response, followed by Pneumovax23 in 2 to 12 months time to expand the strains covered. Booster dose is recommended every 5 years, but for age over 65 no booster is recommended at this stage. See immunize.org for more information.
Meningococcal disease is caused by a bacteria called Nesseria meiningitidis, which is one of the two main causes of bacterial meningitis (the serious type) as well as sepsis (blood poisoning). There are 5 main strains/group, namely A,B, C, W & Y, and in New Zealand group B & C have been the most common. In recent years there has been a decline in the incidence of group C infections, making group B the most common group by far.
There used to be a Group B vaccine called MeNZB and it was specially developed to help control New Zealand’s epidemic between 2004 to 2008, and provided only short term immunity and not manufactured anymore. Since then, newer group B vaccines had been developed and used in US and UK, with Bexsero being available in New Zealand from October/November 2018, expected price will be around $150.
However there are meningococcal vaccines currently available in New Zealand: NeisVac-C which covers group C and Menactra which covers group A C Y W. Due to the decreasing incidence of group C, these vaccines are only recommended for travel, see Ministry of Health.
Although tetanus, which is characterised by very painful spasms and arched back, is now uncommon in the developed world largely due to vaccinations, it is ever present as the bacteria Clostridium tetani and its spores are found in the soil and animals. People tend to get it through dirty wounds especially deep punctures, and doctors would normally recommend a tetanus vaccination booster in those situations.
The tetanus vaccine is part of the free childhood immunisation schedule, and the government also funds the cost of the vaccine for age 45 and 65 but not its administration fee, hence there is still a small charge. The booster is a single injection and lasts 10 years. We recommend people the age of 45 or 65, as well as travellers to keep up to date with tetanus vaccine.
Hepatitis B vaccine
With hepatitis B being part of the childhool immunisation since 1988, the incidence of new infection in New Zealand had dramatically reduced, but the number of people with chronic infection (carrier) remains significant, at around 100,000. Acute infection causing hepatitis is a serious illness causing fever, skin going yellow, vomiting and abdominal pain, but it is the chronic infection or carriers that is the main burden of disease, with risk of cirrhosis (liver scaring & failure) and liver cancer, and therefore requires regular monitoring. Hepatits B is usually transmitted through blood & bodily fluids, sexual activity, childbirth and intravenous drug use.
The hepatitis B vaccine is part of the free childhood immunisation schedule, but is also funded for household members of patients with Hepatitis B as well as certain serious medical conditions. Althought not funded but recommended for travellers, immigrants from countries with high rate of Hepatitis B as well as people in at risk occupations, see Ministry of Health.
Last updated September 2017, prices subject to change
Prices are per dose and includes nurse injection fee, but do not include the doctor’s consultation fee
Vaccine or vaccine course costing $200 or more may need to be paid for then ordered, and administered at least 1-2 days later
|Whooping cough & Tetanus||Boostrix||$52|
|Cholera & Travellers diarrhoea||Dukoral||$68||2 doses required|
|HPV||Gardasil||$171||3 doses required|
|Hepatitis A & B||Twinrix||$93||3 doses required|
|Twinrix Junior||$64||3 doses required|
|Hepatitis A & Typhoid||Vivaxim||$135|
|Hepatitis B||Energix B / HBvaxPro||$46||3 doses requried|
|Japanese encephalitis||Jespect||$225||2 doses required|
|Meningitis A C Y W||Menactra||$127|
|Rabies||Merieux||$133||3 doses required|
|Typhoid||Vivoif (oral)||$57||per course|
|Chickenpox||Varilrix||$81||2 doses recommended|
Yellow fever vaccination requires a dedicated yellow fever consultation, see Yellow Fever Vaccination page for more information