Enrolled nurses fighting to become vaccinators

March 1, 2021

NZNO’s enrolled nurse (EN) section has taken its fight for ENs to become provisional COVID-19 vaccinators to the Minister of Health. And it seems to have worked.

In a letter to Health Minister Andrew Little, section chair Robyn Hewlett said some district health boards (DHBs) were blocking ENs from being assessed by registered nurses, even though the ENs had completed the online provisional vaccinators education programme, provided by the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC). After the online programme and passing a test, participants must be assessed by their peers, and for ENs that is RNs. But in some DHBs, RNs were surprised ENs could do the programme. In its information on the online education programme, IMAC said ENs could complete it.

Hewlett said other health professionals were being assessed. This was “disappointing and frustrating” for ENs, who were a valuable resource and willing to be involved in vaccination programmes. The section wanted DHBs to “urgently acknowledge” that ENs could and would be involved in vaccination programmes. They asked the minister to “question” the barriers to this happening and to enable ENs’ knowledge and expertise to be used in vaccination programmes.


The minister had passed the letter onto the Ministry of Health (MOH). In response to Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand, a spokesperson said the MOH supported ENs as provisional vaccinators. It was aware of reports the EN section had referred to and “we are following up with DHBs”.

The MOH has asked the Nursing Council to approach nurses who have not held an annual practising certificate (APC) for five years or less to consider work as a vaccinator, as part of the “vaccination surge workforce” in each DHB. Council chief executive Catherine Byrne said the council was in the process of actioning the request.