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Congratulations to NCIRS Deputy Director A/Prof Kristine Macartney on her Research Action award from the Sax Institute

Dec 2016 - News

Congratulations to NCIRS Deputy Director, Associate Professor Kristine Macartney, who has been awarded one of three 2016 Sax Institute Research Action Awards. The Sax Institute established the Research Action Awards in 2015 to recognise researchers whose work has made a real-world difference to people’s health and wellbeing. A panel of national and international experts chose the three award winners.

Associate Professor Macartney, a paediatrician and infectious disease specialist, has devoted her career to researching the benefits of childhood vaccines and is responsible for a major change in the way vaccine safety is monitored in Australia. From 2017, the AusVaxSafety National Surveillance System – a vaccine monitoring system led by Associate Professor Macartney at NCIRS – will actively monitor the safety of all government-funded vaccines for both children and adults, using real-time reports of patients’ vaccine experiences obtained via SMS or email.

"Vaccines against zoster [shingles], whooping cough [pertussis] and influenza have saved countless people from experiencing severe illness and death – getting the information to persons of all ages about the benefits and risks of vaccines is absolutely crucial. The AusVaxSafety National Surveillance System will greatly assist this because for the first time, we will be continuously monitoring any reactions – or non-reactions – to all vaccines as they are given," said Associate Professor Macartney.

“The commitment of researchers who are passionate about making a tangible difference is critical to improving our health system and individual health outcomes,” said Sax Institute CEO Professor Sally Redman.

“I congratulate our awardees – Associate Professor Kristine Macartney, Dr Kees van Gool and Associate Professor Angela Dawson. Their work is a shining example of how research can help address the issues we face as a society.

“The safety of the vaccines we give to our children, sexual and reproductive healthcare outcomes for women and girls, and improving the equity and efficiency of Medicare are fundamentally important topics − these are three worthy winners.”

 


Congratulations to Dr Harunor Rashid on his SUPRA Supervisor of the Year Award

Nov 2016 - News

The SUPRA (Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association) Awards recognise and reward excellence in supervision as nominated and judged by research postgraduates at the University. Harunor supervises six PhD students in the Discipline of Child and Adolescent Health – three as research supervisor and three in an auxiliary supervisor role. He has positive and constructive relationships with his students, provides great assistance with research and support for his students’ research careers, and has an expert knowledge of his field of research.

Professor Robert Booy presented the award at a special ceremony at NCIRS. Professor Booy said, “Harunor is one of life's treasures."


Report on vaccine preventable child deaths

Nov 2016 - News

Parents are reminded to talk with their doctor to ensure their children are fully vaccinated following a review of vaccine preventable deaths over the past decade in NSW.

A report from NCIRS on ‘Child deaths from vaccine preventable infectious diseases, NSW 2005–2014’, commissioned by the NSW Child Death Review Team (CDRT), was tabled in the NSW Parliament on 22 November.

While child deaths due to vaccine preventable diseases are now rare in Australia, the report found 23 deaths between 2005 and 2014 that were considered preventable or potentially preventable by vaccinations that were available at the time of the child’s death. Another 30 deaths were not considered preventable at the time although 15 would now be covered by vaccines.

The majority of deaths were due to influenza, meningococcal disease and pneumococcal disease with most deaths in babies under 6 months of age. Several deaths were due to whooping cough and chickenpox.

A third of the children also had health problems that put them at high risk of severe disease.

NCIRS Director Peter McIntyre said the report highlighted the need for parents and healthcare professionals to follow the recommendations in The Australian Immunisation Handbook.

“Immunisation has been successful in dramatically reducing the number of childhood deaths from infectious diseases in Australia,” Professor McIntyre said.

“It is important for parents to speak with their doctor about influenza vaccine, as it is recommended in The Australian Immunisation Handbook for children, particularly under 5 years of age.

“Parents of children with medical conditions or compromised immune systems should talk to their doctor about what vaccinations might be needed for their child or family.

“Pregnant women are also encouraged to speak to their doctor or midwife about free vaccinations for whooping cough and influenza,” he said.

For more information click here

Media contact: Elizabeth Williams on (02) 9845 3572 or elizabeth.williams1@health.nsw.gov.au

 


Breaking news: AusVaxSafety expands

Nov 2016 - News

The Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Honourable Sussan Ley, announced a major expansion of the AusVaxSafety system in Canberra today, alongside the launch of the new National Shingles Vaccination Program. AusVaxSafety, a collaborative initiative led by NCIRS and funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, actively monitors the safety of vaccines using SMS-feedback from recently vaccinated children and adults. From November 2016, AusVaxSafety will support the National Shingles Vaccination Program as well as monitor influenza vaccine safety in all age groups. This system helps provide continuous safety monitoring to ensure public confidence in vaccination. From 2017, AusVaxSafety will routinely report on all vaccines given to people of any age.

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Zoster vaccine fact sheet and new FAQs now available

Oct 2016 - News

The NCIRS zoster vaccine fact sheet has just been updated. A new FAQ fact sheet is also now available which provides responses to common questions about zoster disease and zoster vaccine.

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2016 annual update of The Australian Immunisation Handbook now online

Sep 2016 - News

NCIRS has developed a slide set summarising the changes made in the 2016 annual update of The Australian Immunisation Handbook which is now available on the Immunise Australia website (available online only).

The 2016 update was approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in August 2016. It supersedes the previous version updated online in 2015. The original 10th edition of The Australian Immunisation Handbook published by the Australian Government Department of Health in March 2013 is now out of date.

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NCIRS's Kevin Yin receives "distinction” poster award at Control of Influenza conference in Chicago

Aug 2016 - News

Dr J Kevin Yin, senior research officer at NCIRS, attended the Options IX for the Control of Influenza conference in Chicago, USA, from the 24th-28th of August. He presented two posters on influenza research from NCIRS. The study entitled ‘Systematic review and meta-analysis of indirect protection afforded by vaccinating children against seasonal influenza: implications for policy was awarded with “distinction” poster award. Led by Kevin, with co-authors Anita Heywood (UNSW), Melina Georgousakis, Catherine King, Clayton Chiu, David Isaacs (CHW) and Kristine Macartney, this examines the evidence for herd immunity from influenza vaccination of children. Congratulations Kevin and team on this prestigious award!


Reducing vaccine preventable diseases in children: PAEDS Partnership Project

Aug 2016 - News

We are pleased to announce the award of our NHMRC-funded Partnership Project (APP1113851): Reducing vaccine preventable diseases in children: using national active hospital-based surveillance to evaluate and improve immunisation program performance.

This project is aimed at improving immunisation programs to most effectively and equitably prevent illness and death due to the two most prevalent vaccine preventable diseases in Australian children, influenza and pertussis.

Morbidity from influenza and pertussis remains a significant challenge. An average of 2,700 children are hospitalised from these diseases each year. Deaths also continue to occur from influenza and pertussis, even in previously healthy children and babies.

We will be undertaking a novel and systematic examination of how factors related to both the effectiveness and the uptake of vaccination contribute to controlling influenza and pertussis  in Australian children.

This project expands upon our national partnership of major paediatric hospitals in Australia: the Paediatric Active Enhanced Disease Surveillance (PAEDS, www.paeds.edu.au) network. We have established PAEDS sites in the major paediatric hospitals in five states (NSW, Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and Victoria), and will be adding a sixth site in Darwin in the Northern Territory. With total funding comprising of fifty-per cent support from the NHMRC and fifty-per cent from our funding partners, who are all relevant State and Territory and the Australian Government Departments of Health, our collaboration is well placed to conduct this cutting edge program-relevant research.

Our nationally representative team is comprised of immunisation and public health experts, epidemiologists and social scientists. Over the coming three years we will undertake a range of studies, including:

a) identifying in whom breakthrough disease occurs despite immunisation and why, and we will estimate vaccine effectiveness of new programs;

b) identify reasons for under or no-vaccination at the individual, community, system and policy levels; and

c) determine factors or gaps in immunisation policy and practice that can be changed to improve prevention of disease from influenza and pertussis in children.

For more information contact:

Ms Stoy Drinic – stoyanka.drinic@health.nsw.gov.au

A/Prof Kristine Macartney – kristine.macartney@health.nsw.gov.au

 

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2016 Influenza Vaccine Early Report: good safety profile in children

May 2016 - News

For fortnightly updates on influenza surveillance please see the AusVaxSafety webpage

 

With winter coming soon, it’s time to remind parents and patients to be vaccinated against influenza now. Influenza is a viral respiratory illness that is responsible for thousands of children and adults of all ages each year being admitted to hospital in Australia.

Active vaccine safety surveillance is conducted nationally in young children to monitor for the type and rate of reactions to each year’s new influenza vaccine. This program is called AusVaxSafety*.  As of mid-May 2016, the families of more than 1200 children aged 6 months to 5 years from more than 100 ‘sentinel’ locations across Australia have responded to SMS or email messages to give us feedback on how their child felt days after vaccination.

This is the first year that the new quadrivalent vaccines (containing 2 influenza A and 2 influenza B strains) are being provided under the National Immunisation Program.

Results of this surveillance indicate that the safety profile of the 2016 influenza vaccines in children is excellent and the type and rate of vaccine reactions is within usual limits. Only 9% of participants have reported any reaction. Reactions recorded have been mild and resolved within 1-2 days. The most commonly reported symptoms include tiredness, irritability, and pain, swelling or redness at the injection site. A fever was reported in less than 3% of children. A small proportion of children (1%) have sought medical attention for symptoms following immunisation, and these have generally not been directly related to vaccination.

No vaccine-attributable serious adverse events have been recorded for the patients in this program. It is also important to note that safety demonstrated in children provides assurance that the vaccine is safe among all age groups.

All Australians can benefit from receiving influenza vaccine. Across Australia, health departments, clinicians and other researchers are conducting ongoing surveillance activities to monitor vaccine uptake, safety and effectiveness, and influenza activity. The success of AusVaxSafety surveillance is due to the active engagement of the public whose participation allows for real-time feedback on the safety of each year’s influenza vaccine.

* AusVaxSafety surveillance is a collaborative initiative led by NCIRS and involves vaccine safety experts, state and territory public health systems, general practitioners and children’s hospitals across Australia. It is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health. AusVaxSafety partners with and makes use of several computer-based surveillance systems, Vaxtracker, SmartVax, and STARSS, which send SMSs or web-based surveys to parents and carers seeking information on how their child felt after receiving the influenza vaccine. Results from 2015 AusVaxSafety influenza surveillance are available here.

More information »

REGISTER NOW - Vaccines in Public Health Workshop 2016

May 2016 - News

Registrations are open for the upcoming Vaccines in Public Health Workshop to be held on 31 August and 1 September 2016.

For flyer Click here

This course is an elective within the Master of Public Health and Master of International Public Health programs at The University of Sydney. The course is available yearly to any health professional interested in vaccines and public health. Prior training or experience in epidemiology and/or biostatistics is recommended but not essential. Included in the course are interactive lectures, small group case studies on epidemiology, program implementation, Indigenous health, adverse events and public controversies presented by some of Australia’s leading researchers in immunisation.

Cost: $500 for 1 day - $1000 for 2 days (incl GST)

Online registration is now openclick here to register

For administrative enquiries please contact Karyn Phillips via email at karyn.phillips@health.nsw.gov.au

For further information on content of the workshop please contact Dr Aditi Dey via email at aditi.dey@health.nsw.gov.au.


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