Your COVID-19 team in the Whanganui rohe


Nicola Metcalfe - Immunisation Advisory Centre

This week we introduce you to another member of the COVID-19 team who works alongside the WDHB in our rohe. Nicola Metcalfe, IMAC - The Immunisation Advisory Centre. 


Nicola Metcalfe, IMAC. Local Covid-19 Education Facilitator in Whanganui.


Originally from Marton, the Whanganui rohe is close to the heart of Nicola Metcalfe. Wanting to be a nurse since age 12 when her grandfather was unwell in the Waikato hospital, Nicola watched the nurses care for him and the thought took root - I could do that when I’m older. After high school, it was straight into a nursing degree at UCOL in Palmerston North, which began a 20+ year nursing career.


Nicola’s role is working for the Immunisation Advisory Centre – IMAC, who are based out of the University of Auckland. They are a national organisation that provides education training and clinical advice, around all immunisations, in New Zealand.


She came upon the role through working at the Whanganui Regional Health Network (WRHN), doing outreach immunisation as a Nurse and Cold Chain Advisor. A role that involved making sure vaccines were stored at their correct temperature range, because they’re a biological substance they need to be stored within a particular environment. The data heavy role appealed to her fascination with numbers and facts. The move on to IMAC was a natural progression, already passionate about immunisations when this role came up Nicola really wanted to be involved in the COVID-19 roll out and decided to go for it.


There are three main components to the role of Local Covid-19 Education Facilitator in Whanganui.


The first, is to provide clinical advice around the COVID-19 programme. This is delivered to hospitals and general practices as well as Iwi organisations within our rohe. This mahi also happens through an o8oo phone line where Nicola gives advice to national professionals.


The second component is to provide education and sees Nicola doing mahi on education modules for IMAC. These are released nationally for professionals to educate them in the fight against COVID-19. General education around COVID-19 and immunisations is delivered to community groups, and education updates are made available to our local health professionals.


The third aspect of the role involves training. The mahi includes facilitating training sessions for new and existing vaccinators, that role has a wider region scope with training sessions also being delivered in Taumarunui, Hawera and Palmerston North. One of the highlights for Nicola is training our community workers to safely vaccinate within the COVID-19 space, this happens because of a new MOH legislation which allows non-registered health professionals to vaccinate.


The mahi sees IMAC collaborating with the WDHB, in terms of providing education and clinical support within the existing COVID-19 programme. Nicola has strong relationships with our Quality and Safety team, the Disability team, the Haumoana team, Pharmacy, Health Promotion and Public Health. These relationships help ensure the flow of factual and up to date information that is so important to our rohe, especially during this time.


Other strong relationships within the wider community of the WDHB are an involvement with the WRHN, collaborations with local Iwi and Iwi collectives.


When asked what this mahi has given to Nicola, her response was: ‘Working for IMAC, has enhanced my relationships with many community organisations such as the DHB and Iwi collective groups. It’s enriching to meet so many who are as passionate about protecting our local communities from COVID-19, as I am. My own learning has been enhanced by being in this space of vaccinology and provision of immunisations’.


And the final words from this member of our wider DHB COVID-19 - get vaccinated! Anyone who is still thinking about getting vaccinated, I recommend you talk to a trusted health professional.


We are incredibly fortunate to have world class organisations and businesses such as IMAC on our doorstep, ready to step in and step up from their normal roles when a situation like COVID-19 arises. We are very grateful for the support and mahi of Nicola and thank her for IMAC’s contribution to our DHB and for helping us, keep our community safe.



The Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) is a nationwide organisation based at The University of Auckland.


They provide New Zealanders with independent, factual information about vaccine-preventable diseases and the benefits and risks of immunisation. They also provide training for health professionals, national immunisation coordination and policy advice and research.



For questions about immunisation and vaccination-preventable diseases you can call them free on: 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863), weekdays 9am-4.30pm.