Vaccines and Infectious Disease
Led by Professor Helen Marshall
Infections such as whooping cough, meningococcal disease and influenza still cause death and disability in young infants. During the last whooping cough epidemic 10 babies died from the whooping cough infection (pertussis) with most of these babies under 4 months of age.
The Vaccines and Infectious Disease group aims to improve protection and outcomes for children from serious infections. Our research combines studies of the burden of disease from serious infections such as meningococcal disease, influenza and pertussis, clinical trials of new vaccines to prevent these infections, and evaluation of community acceptance of immunisation programs to inform policy and practice.
Recently with our interstate collaborators we showed that immunising infants in the first few days of life against whooping cough is safe and likely to give good protection at a time infants are most vulnerable to infection. We found strong support for immunisation programs for pregnant women, but found lower uptake of vaccines in pregnant women with English as a second language. We used these findings to implement interventions such as midwife delivered pertussis and influenza immunizations, and have translated brochures about vaccines in pregnancy. Translation of our research findings has assisted in improving uptake for the pertussis vaccine from 20% to 82% at the Women's and Children's Hospital.