Updated Factsheets - Meningococcal vaccines for Australians and Meningococcal vaccines – frequently asked questions

Mar 2018 - News

The following fact sheets have been updated:

The updates include the latest information on jurisdictional programs and information on a newly registered Meningococcal B vaccine, Trumenba®. 

 These and other NCIRS factsheets are available on the NCIRS factsheets webpage.

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Media Release - ‘No Jab No Pay’ drives adolescent measles vaccination catch-up

Mar 2018 - News

A new report from the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) shows that over 43,000 10- to 19-year olds received a catch-up second dose of measles-containing vaccine in 2016, most of these likely actioned as a result of the federal government’s ‘No Jab No Pay' policy.

This report is the first look at catch-up vaccination in adolescents since the introduction of the federal government’s ‘No Jab No Pay' policy on 1 January 2016.[1] Data from the newly expanded national immunisation register was used for this analysis.

The report also found the proportion of children fully immunised at 1 and 5 years of age had reached the highest levels ever recorded in mid-2016 (at 93.9% and 93.5% respectively), likely due, in part, to the introduction of the ‘No Jab No Pay' policy.

Dr Frank Beard, public health physician, and head of coverage and surveillance at NCIRS, described the level of measles vaccination catch-up in adolescents and improved immunisation rates in younger children as important outcomes.

“While Australia has been certified free of local measles, we need to maintain high immunisation rates as we are constantly at threat from measles coming into the country from overseas and spreading locally,” he said.

“Measles catch-up vaccination in adolescents is particularly important, as recent outbreaks have disproportionately affected this age group due to inadequate vaccination,” he added.

In the 2012 measles outbreak, the largest in Australia since 1997 (168 cases) arising as a result of a traveller returning from Thailand with measles,[2] the 10- to 19-year-old age group was over-represented, accounting for almost one third of cases.

The NCIRS report complements the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare “Healthy Communities” reports on immunisation rates at local area level, also released on Thursday, by highlighting whether vaccines are given on time, and the uptake of specific vaccines, including those given only to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The report also shows trends in the numbers of children with a registered medical vaccination exemption.

View the 2016 NCIRS Annual Immunisation Coverage report and summary of key findings

View the AIHW ‘Immunisation rates for children 2016–17’ and ‘HPV immunisation rates 2015–16’ reports 

Media contact:
Sheri Locmayon
Public Relations Department
The Children's Hospital at Westmead
P: (02) 9845 3364

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AusVaxSafety adds Gardasil®9 to active surveillance

Mar 2018 - News

From January 2018, people aged around 12 to 14 years are being offered the new HPV vaccine (Gardasil®9) in a 2-dose schedule through school-based programs under the National Immunisation Program (NIP).

AusVaxSafety, Australia’s real-time active vaccine safety surveillance system, will monitor Gardasil®9 safety to accompany this change to the NIP. AusVaxSafety is led by NCIRS and predominantly uses the SmartVax survey tool to gather feedback from recently vaccinated Australians. AusVaxSafety data are provided to state and territory health departments, and the Australian Government Department of Health to inform vaccine safety in Australia.

Active surveillance of the new HPV vaccine will provide valuable safety data desired by consumers, parents and the general public. Inclusion of school-based vaccination under AusVaxSafety further demonstrates the flexibility of the system to adapt to new vaccine safety surveillance needs in Australia.

AusVaxSafety currently actively monitors pertussis vaccine in children, zoster vaccine in older adults and all-age influenza vaccines. The results can be viewed on the AusVaxSafety website.

Professor Kristine Macartney appointed NCIRS Director

Mar 2018 - News

Congratulations to Professor Kristine Macartney on her appointment as Director of the National Centre for Research and Surveillance (NCIRS). In addition to this appointment, Kristine is also Senior Staff Specialist at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Professor in Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Sydney and Senior Editor of The Australian Immunisation Handbook.

Kristine has held the key leadership position of Deputy Director, NCIRS since 2010 and has been instrumental in the growth and success of numerous program areas within NCIRS that are of state, national and international importance, including two national surveillance networks: Paediatric Active Enhanced Disease Surveillance (PAEDS) and Active Vaccine Safety Surveillance (AusVaxSafety).

Kristine’s research at NCIRS has focussed on all aspects of vaccinology and vaccine-preventable disease control, especially viral diseases, vaccine policy-making and vaccine safety. She has authored more than 110 peer-reviewed publications.

Kristine has held roles on numerous key peak advisory committees, including the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and the Advisory Committee on Vaccines (ACV) of the TGA. In the last 5 years, Kristine has been an investigator on NHMRC grants on vaccines and infectious diseases, totalling $9.8 million in funding.

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

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

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

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