NCIRS Seminar Series

NCIRS Seminar Series 2018 #1  - Monday 12 March 2018
Influenza prevention and control: We can do better

This first NCIRS seminar for 2018 will focus on influenza vaccines.

Time: Monday 12 March 2018, 1.00 pm – 2.00 pm
Location: Kids Research Institute Seminar Room, 178 Hawkesbury Road, Westmead, NSW
Note: This is a new location for 2018 seminars
Light refreshments will be provided after the seminar
Remote access via Zoom meeting now available (link below)

Australia has just experienced the worst-recorded influenza epidemic in recent memory.
In 1943, a clinical trial of the University of Michigan showed that the inactivated influenza vaccine was approximately 70% effective and protection was correlated with HAI antibodies. Since then, vaccine effectiveness has varied from year to year.

As we approach the 2018 flu season, Professor Arnold Monto will discuss how current, more sober, observations of vaccine effectiveness have helped us in understanding the ways our current vaccines might be improved. Professor Robert Booy will present on risk factors, key outcomes and local control efforts.

REGISTER HERE TO ATTEND (for catering please)

REGISTER HERE TO VIEW LIVE VIA ZOOM MEETING (remote access via internet)

monto 32 head shot 2Professor Arnold Monto

Arnold S. Monto is the Thomas Francis Jr. Collegiate Professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology. The major focus of his work has been the epidemiology, prevention and treatment of acute infections in the individual and the community.  He led the studies of respiratory infection in Tecumseh, MI, a landmark study of illness in the community, and is now updating these observations in Michigan households with children.  Dr Monto is involved in assessing the efficacy of various types of influenza vaccine in prophylaxis and antivirals in prophylaxis and therapy of influenza. He now heads observational studies of effectiveness of influenza vaccines in various settings.  He has been a member of the National Allergy and Infectious Disease Advisory Council of the National Institutes of Health.  He is a past president of the American Epidemiological Society and the 2009 recipient of the Alexander Fleming Award of the Infectious Diseases Society of America for lifetime achievement.

Robert BooyProfessor Robert Booy
Professor Robert Booy is the Head of Clinical Research at NCIRS. His research interests extend from understanding the genetic basis of susceptibility to, and severity of, infectious diseases, especially influenza, RSV and invasive disease caused by encapsulated organisms; the clinical, public health, social and economic burden of these diseases; and means by which to prevent or control serious infections through vaccines, drugs and non-pharmaceutical measures.


NCIRS Seminar Series 2017 #7  - Wednesday 22 November 2017
Tailoring Immunization Programmes (TIP)

Tailoring Immunization Programmes (TIP) uses behavioural insights to improve vaccination rates in communities where existing efforts have not been effective. Solutions are based on in-depth analysis of the coverage gaps and qualitative research on why people do and don’t vaccinate, and are co-designed with the service providers and users in mind.

In this seminar Professor David Durrheim (University of Newcastle & Director of Health Protection, Hunter New England Health) gave an overview of why TIP is required if measles elimination is to be maintained; Associate Professor Julie Leask (University of Sydney) presented on the European approach to TIP; and Patrick Cashman (Hunter New England LHD Immunisation Coordinator) provided an overview of the Maitland TIP pilot and early results.

A link to the video resources from this seminar can be requested by emailing


David Durrheim is Director of Health Protection, Hunter New England and Conjoint Professor of Public Health Medicine at the University of Newcastle.  His particular expertise is in vaccinology, communicable diseases surveillance and response, epidemiology and biopreparedness.  In the past decade he has served as an expert adviser and consultant to a number of World Health Organization (WHO), regional and national health programmes in the African and Pacific Regions, particularly on novel surveillance and outbreak response strategies, and on the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization.  David is currently active on two SAGE working groups: measles immunisation and Ebola vaccines.  Professor Durrheim chairs the Australian National Polio Certification Committee and the WHO Western Pacific Regional Measles Elimination Verification Commission.  He is a member of the Scientific Organizing Committee of the Global Vaccine and Immunisation Research Forum.  This forum sets and monitors the global vaccine research agenda.

Julie Leask is a social scientist and associate professor in the Sydney Nursing School at the University of Sydney. She is also a visiting senior research fellow at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance.  Julie has academic qualifications in nursing and midwifery, a Master of Public Health (USYD, 1998) and PhD on vaccine risk communication (USYD, 2002). She currently leads a program of research on vaccination acceptance with a focus on primary care and community settings. She has had advisory roles with the WHO Europe Regional Office, the US President’s Cancer Panel, the US Institute of Medicine, the US National Vaccine Program Office, the Australian Academy of Science and the Council of the National Health and Medical Research Council. In 2015 she won the PHAA NSW branch Public Health Impact Award and the Sax Institute Research Action Award.

Patrick Cashman has worked in Victoria, Tasmania, NT and NSW as a RN in infectious diseases, ICU, ED, remote health and public health and is currently the Immunisation Coordinator at Hunter New England LHD NSW. Operational and research interests include nurse immuniser education, Aboriginal immunisation and adverse event following immunisation (AEFI) clinical follow up and surveillance. Patrick manages the Vaxtracker AEFI active surveillance project.

NCIRS Seminar Series 2017 #6 - Wednesday 27th September 2017
Addressing vaccine hesitancy and refusal

A/Prof Julie Leask – University of Sydney

Addressing vaccine hesitancy and refusal can be difficult. Online environments produce adversarial discussions about vaccination, intensifying polarisation and marginalising the hesitant. Parents often bring questions or concerns about vaccination to the clinical encounter. How health professionals invite and address these concerns can move parents towards, or further away from, vaccination. Many health professionals find resolute vaccine refusal very challenging.

This seminar focused on work to support conversations between parents and health professionals called SKAI (Sharing Knowledge About Immunisation). Developed by a multidisciplinary team, SKAI offers communication strategies and resources for three possible pathways aligned to whether parents are (1) ready to vaccinate, (2) hesitant or (3) declining vaccination. The presentation by Julie Leask will focus on findings from early testing in parent focus groups; in-depth interviews with GPs and nurses; and conversations between clinicians and vaccine-hesitant or declining parents. Professor Leask will also present on the broader evidence base of how to improve vaccination coverage, concluding that there is no single formula but that a range of strategies are needed.

A link to the video resources from this seminar can be requested by emailing


NCIRS Seminar Series 2017 #5 - Wednesday 23rd August 2017
Varicella Zoster Virus Vaccines: Preventing Chicken Pox & Shingles

At this seminar we heard from two Varicella Zoster Virus international experts.
A/Prof Kristine Macartney (Deputy Director, NCIRS) provided an overview of the impact of varicella vaccination in Australia, and the introduction of the live-attenuated Zoster vaccine, and Prof Tony Cunningham, AO (Executive Director, WIMR) spoke on the clinical development and potential impact of the new non-live, adjuvanted, subunit (HZ/su) vaccine, Shingrix.

Video resources

1. Talk 1: Varicella and Zoster vaccination Australian update by A/Prof Kristine Macartney

2. Talk 2: The new Herpes zoster vaccine by Prof Tony Cunningham

 3. Questions & Discussion: Varicella Zoster Virus Vaccines: Preventing Chicken Pox & Shingles

NCIRS Seminar Series 2017 #4 - Wednesday 26th July 2017
Tuberculosis & the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine: global burden and Australian immunisation programs

In this seminar held on Wednesday 26th July we heard from Professor Ben Marais on global TB disease burden issues and Dr Frank Beard on the BCG vaccine and evaluation of Australian immunisation programs.

Video resources

1. Talk 1: Tuberculosis in children by Professor Ben Marais

 2. Talk 2: The Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine & Australian immunisation programs by Dr Frank Beard


NCIRS Seminar Series 2017 #3 - Wednesday 24th May 2017
Maternal Immunisation against Pertussis: Latest evidence

Maternal vaccination in the third trimester of pregnancy is now the preferred strategy for protection of infants in the “immunity gap” between birth and three-months of age. This strategy was however implemented in the absence of evidence from clinical trials, and many questions about the details of its effects remain.  

In this seminar Prof. Peter McIntyre (Director, NCIRS) gave an overview of the background on maternal immunisation against pertussis and present some recent evidence from the UK and California. Dr Nathan Saul (Epidemiologist, Vaccine Preventable Diseases at NSW Health) presented breaking data on effectiveness from a NSW case-control study conducted by all public health units in 2015-16.

Video resources

1. Talk 1: Maternal immunisation against pertussis – background and current evidence by Prof Peter McIntyre, NCIRS

 2. The presentation given by Dr Nathan Saul will be made available once the data presented is published - Coming soon

NCIRS Seminar Series 2017 #2 - Wednesday 22 March 2017
All Creatures Great and Small: A One Health Approach to the Problem of Q Fever

Q fever, caused by Coxiella burnetii, is a serious zoonotic disease in humans with a worldwide distribution. Many species of animals are capable of transmitting C. burnetii, and consequently all veterinary workers are at risk for this disease. Australia is the only country to have a licensed Q fever vaccine (QVax ). This vaccine has been readily available and used in Australia for many years in at-risk groups, however still has 600 notifications across Australia annually.

This presentation provided an overview of the sources of Q fever in our animal populations, new data on longevity of immunity post vaccination, as well as information on the safety of the Q fever vaccine in young adults and barriers to uptake of the vaccine.

NCIRS Seminar Series 2017 #1 -  Wednesday 22 February 2017
Pneumococcal vaccines for elderly adults

The first NCIRS seminar covered the internationally controversial area of pneumococcal vaccines for elderly adults. Persons over 65 have a progressively increasing incidence of pneumococcal invasive disease and pneumonia but both available vaccines have limitations. In Australia the PBAC has recommended, in principle, moving from 23 valent polysaccharide vaccine to 13 valent conjugate vaccine to prevent pneumonia.

Epidemiologists Prof. Robert Booy and Dr Sanjay Jayasinghe presented on the issues on Wednesday 22nd February

Video resources

1. Introduction by Prof. P. McIntyre and Talk 1: Pneumococcal disease epidemiology in the elderly & 13vPCV efficacy by Sanjay Jayasinghe


2. Talk 2: Comparing the effectiveness of polysaccharide pneumococcal vaccine in bacteremic and non-bacteremic pneumonia: Focus on pneumococcal pneumonia by Prof. Robert Booy


3. Questions & Discussion: Pneumococcal Vaccines for Elderly Adults