News & Events
NCIRS at the Communicable Diseases Conference
Jun 2017 - News
The Communicable Diseases Control (CDC) Conference 2017, convened by the Communicable Diseases Network Australia, the Public Health Laboratory Network and the Public Health Association of Australia, was held in Melbourne from Monday 26 to Wednesday 28 June 2017. A/Prof Kristine Macartney, Deputy Director, NCIRS was an opening keynote speaker and presented on 'What we have learned from 10 years of PAEDS'. NCIRS staff also presented work in the areas of epidemiology, program evaluation, serosurveillance and vaccine safety. Highlights from the conference can found on Twitter. View NCIRS presentation highlights on the NCIRS Twitter page. Select presentations are available on the CDC conference webpage.
PAEDS 10 Year Anniversary Showcase
Jun 2017 - News
In June 2017 Paediatric Active Enhanced Disease Surveillance (PAEDS) investigators, nurses and key stakeholders came together in Melbourne to discuss and present their work of 10 years in an anniversary showcase. PAEDS, originally founded through a collaboration between the Australian Paediatric Surveillance Unit (APSU) and NCIRS has grown to surveillance at 7 sites across Australia, focusing on vaccine preventable diseases and serious childhood conditions of public health importance: Acute Flaccid Paralysis, intussusception, pertussis, varicella, febrile seizures, encephalitis, influenza and most recently meningococcal disease and group A streptococcal disease. Progress and outcomes from research into these conditions was presented at the showcase. PAEDS also celebrated Dr Philip Britton’s PhD award for investigation of acute childhood encephalitis, as well as a recently achieved NHMRC partnership grant that will support additional research into understanding why children become unwell with influenza and pertussis. Congratulations to PAEDS on 10 years and many wonderful achievements yet to come.More information »
Prof Peter McIntyre at the WHO Technical Expert Consultation on Optimization of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV)
Jun 2017 - News
On the 12-13 June 2017 Prof Peter McIntyre attended the WHO Technical Expert Consultation on Optimization of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) Impact held in Geneva, Switzerland at the WHO Headquarters
Immunisation: it’s not just for kids
Jun 2017 - Medicine Today; 18(6): 25-33 - News
In this article by Dr Lucy Deng, Ryan Macdougall, A/Prof. Kristine Macartney published in Medicine Today June 2017; 18(6): 25-33 the authors focus on the important, and sometimes overlooked, area of adult vaccination.
In an ageing population with a high burden of vaccine-preventable diseases, vaccines are equally as important in adults as they are in children. Although there are many potential barriers to adult vaccination, these can be addressed, and every healthcare provider should routinely review the immunisation status of their adult patients as part of health promotion.
- Adults may require vaccines for multiple reasons, including incomplete childhood schedules, waning immunity, medical and lifestyle risk factors, occupation-related risks, travel and migration.
- The majority of undervaccinated people in Australia (those who are eligible for vaccines under the National Immunisation Program but do not receive them) are adults.
- Vaccines are one of the key components to healthy ageing, given the high burden of vaccine-preventable diseases in the older population.
- More vaccines are becoming available and are recommended for the adult population, including zoster vaccine for adults aged 70 to 79 years.
- Barriers to the delivery of adult vaccinations include cost, lack of documentation of doses previously received and public misconceptions about the need for vaccination in adulthood.
- The ‘HALO’ (Health, Age, Lifestyle, Occupation) principle can be applied when assessing vaccine requirements for adults.
- The Australian Immunisation Register, introduced in 2016, aims to capture all immunisations across the lifespan of a person.
Building Trust, Managing Risk: Vaccine Confidence and Human Papillomavirus Vaccination meeting at The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Jun 2017 - News
The Vaccine Confidence Project and the HPV Prevention and Control Board hosted the Building Trust, Managing Risk: Vaccine Confidence and Human Papillomavirus Vaccination meeting at The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine on7-8 June 2017. Sessions covered topics related to: The state of HPV vaccination in the world, HPV vaccination: real and perceived safety issues, Culture, religion and morality around HPV vaccination, Immunization anxiety reactions and the HPV vaccine, Engaging and communicating with different audiences, and Strategies to monitor, build and maintain confidence. A/Prof Kristine Macartney, Deputy Director, NCIRS was invited to the meeting to present on vaccine confidence and human papillomavirus vaccination in Australia. Materials from the meeting, including videos, slides from the presentations and summarising illustrations are available at the meeting website.
Congratulations to Cristyn Davies and Samantha Carlson, NCIRS recipients of NSW Health PhD Scholarships
Jun 2017 - News
Congratulations to Cristyn Davies and Samantha Carlson, recipients of the NSW Health PhD Scholarship. This scholarship supports PhD candidates to gain skills and undertake projects that will build capacity in the NSW Health system in areas of identified need.
Based on the findings of a completed study about human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination in 40 Australian secondary schools (HPV.edu) funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Cristyn is investigating how a well-designed HPV vaccination intervention led to changes in knowledge and attitudes in adolescents and parents/guardians. She is also examining mechanisms within the school based vaccination environment for intervention effect, and will work collaboratively with key stakeholders to translate these findings into policy and assist best practice, and measure the effectiveness of these changes. Cristyn is supervised by Prof Rachel Skinner (USyd), A/Prof Kristine Macartney (NCIRS), and A/Prof Melissa Kang (UTS).
Through the Paediatric Active Enhanced Disease Surveillance (PAEDS) network, Samantha is investigating why children get severe influenza and pertussis, and is supervised by A/Prof Julie Leask (USyd) and A/Prof Kristine Macartney (NCIRS). This project uses mixed-methods research with parents of children who have been hospitalised for influenza and pertussis. Guided by the social ecological model (SEM), the research will determine how social networks, organisations, communities, and policies influence a parent’s decision and action to vaccinate their child against influenza and pertussis. Results will be used to develop a causal pathway as well as practical recommendations to prevent children acquiring these vaccine preventable diseases.
2015 Annual Immunisation Coverage Report
May 2017 - News
The latest NCIRS national Annual Immunisation Coverage Report is now available along with a summary PDF document of key findings and accompanying PDF slideset document containing all tables and figures from the report. View the report here
May 2017 - News
The following fact sheets have been updated and are now available on our factsheets webpage
Influenza vaccines for Australians [PDF – 573kB]
Vaccines for Australian adults [PDF – 309kB]
Meningococcal vaccines for Australians [PDF – 741kB]
2017 Influenza vaccine safety confirmed by Australian-first vaccine safety surveillance system
May 2017 - News
AusVaxSafety introduces active safety surveillance of vaccines across the country to provide real-time monitoring, and boost confidence in immunisation
For immediate release May 19, 2017: New data released by the AusVaxSafety program have shown the 2017 Influenza vaccines to be safe, with no significant, unexpected or unusual reactions experienced by the close to 40,000 adults and children who have been vaccinated and participated in the program to date. It is now flu season and this system tells us the vaccines available this year are safe.
The results of a recent poll of Australian parents found that almost nine in ten parents (88 per cent) are unsure about the safety of the flu vaccine. (source: https://www.childhealthpoll.org.au/polls/flu-vaccination-perspectives-of-australian-parents/). Our data, straight from parents, whose children have been vaccinated, tells us the 2017 Influenza vaccines are safe.
For the first time in Australia, AusVaxSafety (www.ausvaxsafety.org.au), a ground-breaking national vaccine surveillance system, is now monitoring, in real-time, the effects of vaccines on Australians of all ages in over 150 ‘sentinel’ sites across the country. These include general practices (GPs), aboriginal medical services, immunisation clinics and hospital clinics. Led by the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS), this cutting-edge system actively monitors vaccine safety and aims to increase public confidence in immunisation.
The AusVaxSafety system utilises de-identified information provided directly by the people who receive the vaccines (or their parent or carer). The majority of responses are sought via an SMS sent from the patient’s immunisation clinic or GP using the automated SmartVax or Vaxtracker software at around 3 days after a vaccination. This form of active vaccine safety surveillance has not been implemented on this scale in Australia or internationally before.
The Deputy Director of NCIRS and paediatric infectious disease consultant, Associate Professor Kristine Macartney has said “Influenza is a serious disease in people of all ages and is the leading cause of hospitalisation due to a vaccine-preventable disease in Australian children under five years. The Australian government recommends everyone from six months old be vaccinated against influenza.”
“This robust vaccine safety surveillance mechanism is an active way of making sure vaccines perform as safely as we expect them to, and also serves as an early warning system for any unexpected outcomes. We are delighted to see such positive and encouraging feedback about AusVaxSafety. On average, we have a 70% response rate within three to four days of sending an SMS which is fantastic to see.” she added.
“Vaccine-preventable diseases can impact us all, resulting in numerous doctor's visits, hospitalisations and premature deaths. With AusVaxSafety now established, the community can feel confident that an active system is in place to monitor vaccines” said Karen Orr, Clinical Nurse Consultant specialising in immunisation and paediatrics at The Children’s Hospital Westmead in Sydney.
About AusVaxSafety: Funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, AusVaxSafety is a unique system that uses patient feedback to investigate vaccine safety. All adverse events can be reported, including those not necessarily caused by the vaccine. If any serious or unexpected adverse events arise, effective and rapid follow-up of the patient can occur, either via their own doctor or immunisation specialists.
Hospitals, General Practitioners, Aboriginal Medical Services, and immunisation clinics around the country are now able to install SmartVax and Vaxtracker which are free and use automated SMS technology to send patients or parents a brief survey following vaccination. The surveillance system also retrieves data from STARSS, a study evaluating the use of different follow-up methods.
Data is received on all vaccines given in the clinics; however, AusVaxSafety surveillance is currently focusing analysis on the following vaccines and age groups:
- Influenza vaccine in all ages during April-October
- Pertussis (whooping cough)-containing booster vaccines in children
- Zoster (shingles) vaccine in adults, particularly those aged 70-79 years
Analysis of all de-identified patient responses occurs frequently and is reviewed by AusVaxSafety vaccine experts, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the Department of Health each week. As well as the influenza vaccine showing a good profile, zoster and pertussis vaccines are tracking as expected, with a low rate of side effects.
For more information on AusVaxSafety, please visit www.ausvaxsafety.org.au
About NCIRS: The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance of Vaccine Preventable Diseases (NCIRS) is the leading organisation in Australia working in research to support evidence-based policy development for evaluation of the National Immunisation Program, and surveillance of vaccine preventable diseases, vaccine coverage and vaccine safety. This work is funded through agreements with the Australian Government Department of Health. www.ncirs.edu.au
Ms Leonie Leonard 02 9845 3364
(Public Relations Department Children's Hospital at Westmead
No Jab, No Pay and vaccine refusal in Australia: the jury is out
May 2017 - News
In a recent article in the Medical Journal of Australia, NCIRS experts have argued that, as Australian policies requiring documented receipt of all National Immunisation Program (NIP) vaccines to qualify for benefits (No Jab No Pay – federal) and to attend childcare or pre-school (No Jab No Play – state) are unique internationally, it is important to fully evaluate their impact.
Australian national childhood immunisation rates have remained at or over 90% for more than 15 years, and currently sit at 93%. Achieving an immunisation rate as close as possible to 100% is an important goal, and will maximise the benefits of vaccines to individuals and the community. However, parents actively refusing vaccines (refusers) are less numerous among the “last 7%” than families having difficulty accessing healthcare services, and it is important to realise even 100% child immunisation won’t prevent all cases, especially for whooping cough, write Professor Peter McIntyre and co-authors Dr Frank Beard and Associate Professor Julie Leask, of NCIRS and University of Sydney.
In the article titled 'No Jab, No Pay and vaccine refusal in Australia: the jury is out', Professor McIntyre and co-authors say "evaluation should focus on identifying differential effects on vaccine uptake, as well as any unintended adverse consequences" for children (such as children of vaccine-refusing parents) and parents affected by access or logistic issues. They go on to say the Victorian No Jab, No Play legislation, for example, requires full immunisation for attendance at childcare centres, unless the child has an approved medical exemption or is on a recognised catch-up schedule. The likely unintended adverse impacts of this highly restrictive Victorian legislation include reduced access to important early childhood education.
The authors argue that Australia’s vaccination rates are “relatively high and at least comparable with similar developed countries” and vaccine objection in 2013 was about 3% – the same as in 2001. They go on to say “Vaccine refusal is only one of a range of factors relevant to further improvements in vaccine coverage and disease control. The greatest yield is likely to come from first implementing measures already shown to be effective in improving accessibility and minimising logistic barriers to vaccination, and second, from well structured research and evaluation of new interventions [such as No Jab, No Pay, and No Jab, No Play] to overcome vaccine refusal and hesitancy.”
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