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The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) was established by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing (now known as Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care) in August 1997 as part of the development of the Immunise Australia program. Since then, NCIRS has expanded considerably in both staff numbers and research activity, and has gained significant national and international recognition as it continues to make key contributions to strategic priorities identified in the National Immunisation Strategy, especially in the areas of immunisation coverage, vaccine safety monitoring, development of effective communication about immunisation, and strengthening monitoring and evaluation of the National Immunisation Program.
Watch the animation below about the major milestones that have shaped NCIRS over the past 25 years.
NCIRS is established as part of the Australian Government’s Seven Point Plan to improve immunisation programs and coverage in Australia. NCIRS works across government, clinical and academic sectors, providing a focal point for national collaboration to foster creation and translation of evidence needed for best practice in control of vaccine preventable diseases in Australia.
NCIRS was established in 1997 to provide a focal point for national collaboration in the creation and translation of evidence, to inform best practice in the prevention and control of vaccine preventable diseases in Australia.
Measles and rubella seroprevalence before and after the national measles control campaign formed a key part of program evaluation in 1998-99. Six national multi-disease seroprevalence studies, with more than 50 publications, laid foundations for SARS-CoV-2 and Japanese encephalitis serosurveys.
First national immunisation program evaluation of the 1998 national measles control campaign (targeting 1–12-year-olds); subsequent key role in supporting Australia to increase measles vaccine coverage, leading to the World Health Organization 2014 declaration of measles elimination.
In 2004 first report dedicated to Indigenous VPDs and coverage published.
The Handbook is the national clinical guideline advising health professionals on the safest and most effective use of vaccines.
Commenced in 2002 (8th edition) - full drafting and comprehensive technical support role from 2005 (9th edition). Major transition to fully online version in 2018.
In 2002, NCIRS commenced its role as technical secretariat for the Australian Immunisation Handbook, drafting content and providing comprehensive support.
Work by NCIRS supported introduction of national meningococcal C conjugate vaccination program for 1–19-year-olds in 2003. Continued support for ATAGI decision-making on meningococcal ACWY and B vaccines.
This grant, with University of Melbourne and Australian National University, supported training for a cohort of modellers prominent during COVID-19
National Indigenous Immunisation Coordinator commences at NCIRS to promote immunisation coverage in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
This role continues to be hosted and supported by NCIRS to 2022
Expert scientific and technical support continues to be provided by NCIRS for all aspects of ATAGI, including preparation of drafts of all ATAGI advice documents.
In 2006, the centre became the engine room for the Australian echnical Advisory Group on Immunisation providing expert scientific and technical support, a role that continues to this day.
The PAEDS network has progressively expanded to eight participating paediatric hospitals, focussed on timely surveillance of severe VPDs and vaccine safety. PAEDS continues to play a key role in assisting Australia to meet World Health Organization AFP Surveillance requirements, required to retain Western Pacific Region polio elimination status. For more see paeds.org.au
2007 was a landmark year as the Paediatric Active Enhanced isease Surveillance network was launched. A national collaboration that assists Australia to meet World Health Organization acute flaccid paralysis surveillance requirements and Western Pacific Region polio elimination status.
NSWISS is funded by NSW Health to provide an expanded state-wide service providing expert immunisation advice to clinicians and families and plays a leading role in coordinating national adverse event clinic network (AEFI-CAN).
NCIRS continues to lead and contribute to activities supporting immunisation policy and practice education in Australia and internationally including regular webinars, the University of Sydney vaccinology elective for Master of Public Health and specialist courses such as the Doherty/NCIRS vaccinology course.
This vaccine safety incident leads to a national influenza vaccination program suspension and subsequent Chief Medical Officer review. Value of and need for real-time safety surveillance highlighted.
This centre was established to focus on understudied and special risk populations, supporting successful funding application for the first large-scale linkage of Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR) data to disease outcomes in Indigenous and non-Indigenous children in NSW and WA.
The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care funds establishment of the AusVaxSafety national collaboration, initially for active safety surveillance of annual influenza vaccines. Progressively expanded to include other vaccines newly introduced into the National Immunisation Programme (NIP).
AusVaxSafety was formed in 2014 with active safety surveillance of influenza vaccines, expanding to now include all vaccines on the National Immunisation Program.
Sharing Knowledge About Immunisation (SKAI) builds on social science of immunisation work undertaken from NCIRS inception in 1997. SKAI is a suite of vaccination communication support tools designed to facilitate conversations about immunisation between parents and healthcare providers.
Building on social science research conducted since the inception of NCIRS, SKAI, a suite of vaccination communication support tools for healthcare providers and parents, was developed and launched.
NCIRS begins working towards reports on all age vaccine coverage using AIR data, setting the stage for COVID-19 vaccine impact and effectiveness studies.
From 2016 onwards, NCIRS initiated all-age vaccine coverage reports following the expansion of the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register to an all-age immunisation register. Setting the stage for recent COVID-19 vaccine impact and effectiveness studies.
COSSI is established as a collaborative platform for social scientists across Australia to strengthen research to improve vaccine acceptance and uptake by understanding barriers to and enablers of immunisation, and thereby inform national and international immunisation practice.
This establishment of this program further strengthens NCIRS’s immunisation program support role.
NCIRS and partners digitise the Australian Immunisation Handbook
Extensive work is undertaken by NCIRS and partners including the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care to transition the Australian Immunisation Handbook to a fully online version, allowing timely editing and easier access to content.
NCIRS leads formation of the Australian Regional Immunisation Alliance (ARIA) and is granted funding from Gavi and DFAT to support countries to strengthen immunisation efforts in the Indo-Pacific and SEARO region.
As the next decade ended, NCIRS increased focus on establishment and engagement of regional and global collaborations, forming The Australian Regional Immunisation Alliance. Utilising funding to strengthen immunisation efforts in the Indo-Pacific and SEARO region.
NCIRS works extensively with ATAGI to deliver guidance documents to shape the current and future COVID-19 vaccination program in Australia.
2020 tested the world’s resilience as COVID-19 swept the globe. NCIRS’ expertise played a leading role in Australia’s COVID-19 response, and extensive work with ATAGI shaped the nations COVID-19 vaccination program.
Active COVID-19 vaccine safety surveillance was in place ahead of each vaccine rollout, covering all state and territories: >6 million responses by mid-2022
NCIRS and ARIA support regional countries in COVID-19 vaccine rollout under Australia’s Vaccine Access Health Security Initiative
In 2022, we have supported regional countries in COVID-19 vaccine rollout under Australia’s Vaccine Access Health Security Initiative. Our collaboration with ARIA has been an integral milestone in this endeavour, in our 25th year.
NCIRS pivots to support policy and planning for newly emergent diseases in Australia (Japanese encephalitis on mainland) and globally (monkeypox).