Media Release - Extensive evaluation of scientific studies confirms HPV vaccine safety

Mar 2018 - News

The National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance (NCIRS) has undertaken an extensive evaluation of the human papillomavirus virus (HPV) vaccines in use globally, confirming their excellent safety profile and will continue to monitor the vaccine.

Four out of five people will be infected with HPV in their lifetime; this infection can lead to cancer and other diseases. HPV vaccine protects against cervical and other cancers and is recommended for routine vaccination at age 12-13 years. It is delivered primarily through free, school-based immunisation programs.

In 2018, a new HPV vaccine, Gardasil®9, which protects against additional HPV types, will be used in Australia. AusVaxSafety, Australia’s national active vaccine safety surveillance system, will monitor Gardasil®9 safety from 2018 to accompany this change to the National Immunisation Program (NIP). AusVaxSafety is led by NCIRS and predominantly uses the SmartVax survey tool to gather feedback from recently vaccinated Australians.

In recent years, misinformation about the safety of HPV vaccine has affected confidence in vaccination, which in turn has reduced the number of young people being vaccinated in some countries. Importantly, Australia continues to have one of the highest vaccination coverage rates for HPV vaccine globally, with approximately three quarters of young males and females taking up the vaccine to be protected against cancer.

Our extensive review of HPV vaccine safety examined 109 studies including 15 population-based studies in over 2.5 million vaccinated individuals across six countries. The findings built on an earlier review of over 100 earlier studies.

Key insights from this review include:

  • There is a large amount of information on HPV vaccines, but the information is of variable quality. High quality, well-conducted scientific studies confirm that the vaccine is safe
  • Evidence shows HPV vaccine is very safe overall. It doesn’t increase the risk of developing nervous system or autoimmune conditions

The incoming Director of NCIRS and paediatric infectious disease specialist Professor Kristine Macartney says, “Prevention of cervical and other HPV-related cancers is vital worldwide. Our thorough review of all current studies confirms the safety of this life-saving vaccine. Our findings align with reports from the World Health Organization and many other experts that have deemed HPV vaccines to be ‘extremely safe’”. In addition, AusVaxSafety will provide real time feedback from vaccinated adolescents at select sites across Australia to continue to track safety as Gardasil9 is rolled-out.

Co-author Associate Prof Julia Brotherton, Medical Director of the National HPV Vaccination Program Register, agrees that the review reinforces the known safety of the vaccine, saying “The high levels of uptake we have achieved with this vaccine shows that Australian parents do want their kids to be protected against HPV and the cancers it can cause. We have more than 10 years of experience now showing that parents are right in confidently choosing to vaccinate their kids in our world leading school based programs.”

Download the media release

ASID Adult Immunisation Satellite Workshop

Feb 2018 - Events

'Vaccination is not just for kids': what infectious disease physicians need to know

Wednesday, 9 May 2018, 2.30 pm – 5.30 pm
Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa

This workshop, organised by the AusVaxSafety group at NCIRS, in partnership with Surveillance of Adverse Events Following Vaccination In the Community (SAEFVIC), is being held prior to the ASID Annual Scientific Meeting.

More information »

Registrations are now open for the next NCIRS Seminar on Monday 12 March 2018

Feb 2018 - Events

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.

More information »

Publication - Vaccine-preventable child deaths in New South Wales from 2005 to 2014: How much is preventable?

Jan 2018 - News

A study has found there is scope to reduce child deaths, particularly from influenza, meningococcal B and pertussis. Maternal vaccination along with increased uptake of vaccination in children (with and without underlying medical conditions), particularly for influenza, could reduce residual child deaths. 

The study, conducted by the NCIRS and published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health to identify and describe potentially vaccine-preventable child deaths in New South Wales (NSW), found 23 deaths still occurred between 2005 and 2014 that could have been prevented by vaccines that were available at the time, with influenza (12 deaths) and meningococcal disease (5 deaths) most common.

 Read the full article here

October - December 2017- Newsletter

Dec 2017 - Newsletters

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AusVaxSafety exceeds 200 SmartVax sites nationwide

Dec 2017 - News

AusVaxSafety active vaccine safety surveillance data are provided by SmartVax, Vaxtracker and STARSS. No safety signals have been identified through active surveillance to date. AusVaxSafety active surveillance data continue to be updated regularly on the website.

Influenza: From 1 April 2017 to 3 September 2017, 102,663 individuals aged 6 months and older were enrolled for influenza vaccine surveillance. With an over 70% response rate, 73,560 participants consistently replied that any events after vaccination were generally mild and within expected ranges.

Zoster: As of 3 December 2017, a total of 10,739 persons aged 70–79 years have participated in zoster surveillance since 1 November 2016, yielding a response rate of 68%.

Pertussis: As of 10 December 2017, 29,592 children aged 12 months–<7 years have participated in pertussis surveillance since 14 March 2016, yielding a response rate of 72.4%.

As of 4 December 2017, there are 201 SmartVax sites nationwide. A live map can now be accessed on the SmartVax website.

PHN Immunisation Support Program

Dec 2017 - News

NCIRS has partnered with NPS MedicineWise to develop a national Primary Health Network (PHN) immunisation support program on behalf of the Commonwealth Department of Health.  The program will help PHNs to co-ordinate services and better assist immunisation providers to implement the National Immunisation Program (NIP).

The first phase of the program has now been completed and included the completion of a formative research report to understand the current landscape and explore the challenges and opportunities associated with establishing a support program. This involved literature reviews, environmental scanning, as well as teleconferences and workshops. It involved 84 stakeholder members, including jurisdictional immunisation co-ordinators (JICs) and representatives from PHNs and Public Health Units (PHUs).

Three stakeholder workshops, held in Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney followed by a co-design workshop in Sydney identified the specific elements of the program which will include:

  1. Development of a digital platform that provides access for PHNs across Australia to high quality resources, education, news and updates, network directories, and that enables PHNs to connect and share ideas.
  2. Facilitation of networking opportunities, such as teleconferences and face-to-face events.
  3. Development of resources and education where significant gaps are identified.
  4. Central co-ordination of all program activities.

 “The entire day was fantastic.  I am confident the program will deliver great outcomes”

“Very welcoming and great presentations.  Good networking with other PHN workers”

“Thank you – can’t wait for the next step”

“Great workshop, well planned and implemented”

“What worked well was the networking opportunities between PHNs and PHUs”

There was positive feedback from the workshops which highlighted the benefit of bringing together stakeholders from different regions to share ideas and assist in networking.  Attendees reported: 

The design of the digital platform is underway with a launch of Phase 1 anticipated at the end of March 2018.   Other elements of the program will be developed over the coming months which will include opportunities for networking and education. 

We are excited to be part of this initiative and look forward to supporting PHNs and other stakeholders in the future.




AEFI-CAN launches new national clinical database

Dec 2017 - News

The Adverse Event Following Immunisation-Clinical Assessment Network (AEFI-CAN) is excited to announce the launch of its national clinical database:

AEFI-CAN is a formal collaboration between state- and territory-based specialist immunisation clinics, and includes representatives from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), with funding provided by the Department Health via AusVaxSafety, coordinated by the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS).

This database is part of national vaccine safety collaboration, led by SAEFVIC (at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute), with development and IT support from ChordWizard Systems (Stephen Clarke).

The database has both an AEFI reporting and a clinical follow-up arm, and is designed to help capture uniform data throughout Australia.

As a national network, AEFI-CAN works collaboratively to clinically assess and manage individual patients following serious or unexpected AEFI. AEFI-CAN provides the important link between surveillance and clinical assessment and management. As such, AEFI-CAN can assist in determining patient outcomes and support investigation of possible safety signals in a real-time integrated way.

The database is currently being used in Victoria, with work underway to provide opportunities for all state and territory specialist vaccine safety clinics to adopt the database.

Publication - Active SMS-based influenza vaccine safety surveillance in Australian Children

Nov 2017 - News

Australia’s novel, active surveillance system, AusVaxSafety, monitors the post-market safety of vaccines in near real time. This paper analysed cumulative surveillance data for children aged 6 months to 4 years who received seasonal influenza vaccine in 2015 and/or 2016 to determine: adverse event following immunisation (AEFI) rates by vaccine brand, age and concomitant vaccine administration.

7402 children were included in the analysis and no safety signals or excess of adverse events were detected.

Access the publication abstract

NCIRS publications in the Medical Journal of Australia

Nov 2017 - News

MJA coverThe November 6 issue of the Medical Journal of Australia featured four publications by the NCIRS team and collaborators, covering a broad range of topics such as meningococcal B disease, zoster, pneumonia and vaccine refusal.

These publications included:

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