1996
1996
About the National Centre

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.

1996
1997
1997
National Centre for immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) established

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.

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1997
1998
Ongoing national serosurveillance program established
1998
Ongoing national serosurveillance program established to better understand population immunity due to past infection or vaccination

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.

1998
1999
First national immunisation program evaluation
1999
NCIRS conducts first of many national immunisation program evaluations by evaluating the 1998 measles control campaign

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.

1999
2000
First national VPD report published
2000
First national vaccine preventable disease (VPD) report published initiating a series of ongoing periodic reports assessing disease control

In 2004 first report dedicated to Indigenous VPDs and coverage published.

2000
2002
2002
NCIRS commences role as the technical secretariat for the Australian Immunisation Handbook

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.
 

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2002
2003
Regular review of disease burden trends starts
2003
Regular evidence-based review of new meningococcal vaccines and disease burden trends commences

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.

2003
2004
NHMRC grant to develop VPD modelling
2004
NCIRS leads NHMRC capacity building grant to develop vaccine preventable disease (VPD) modelling

This grant, with University of Melbourne and Australian National University, supported training for a cohort of modellers prominent during COVID-19

2004
2004
2004
National Indigenous Immunisation Coordinator commences at NCIRS to promote immunisation coverage in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

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
 

2004
2006
2006
NCIRS becomes the technical engine room for Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and its working groups

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.

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2006
2007
2007
Paediatric Active Enhanced Disease Surveillance (PAEDS) network starts with an Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care grant supporting acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance

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

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2007
2008
NSWISS established
2008
New South Wales Immunisation Specialist Service (NSWISS) established

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).

2008
2009
National vaccine workshops commence
2009
NCIRS national vaccine workshops commence

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.

2009
2010
Support for childhood influenza vaccine safety investigation
2010
NCIRS supports investigation of childhood influenza vaccine safety

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.

2010
2012
CRE in Immunisation established with UNSW
2012
Centre of Research Excellence in Immunisation established with UNSW

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.

2012
2014
2014
AusVaxSafety formed and hosted by NCIRS

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).

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2014
2015
2015
Sharing Knowledge About Immunisation (SKAI) communication support tools launches

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.

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2015
2016
2016
Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR) expands to the all-age Australian Immunisation Register (AIR)

NCIRS begins working towards reports on all age vaccine coverage using AIR data, setting the stage for COVID-19 vaccine impact and effectiveness studies.

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2016
2016
2016
Collaboration on Social Science in Immunisation (COSSI) established

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.

2016
2017
PHN-ISP established
2017
Primary Health Network (PHN) Immunisation Support Program established

This establishment of this program further strengthens NCIRS’s immunisation program support role.

2017
2018
Digitisation of the Handbook
2018
NCIRS and partners digitise the Australian Immunisation Handbook

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.
 

2018
2019
2019
NCIRS increases engagement with regional and global collaborations

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.

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2019
2020
2020
NCIRS plays a leading role in Australia’s COVID-19 pandemic response

NCIRS works extensively with ATAGI to deliver guidance documents to shape the current and future COVID-19 vaccination program in Australia.

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2020
2021
AusVaxSafety surveillance of COVID-19 vaccines
2021
AusVaxSafety active surveillance of COVID-19 vaccines begins

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

2021
2022
2022
NCIRS and ARIA support regional countries in COVID-19 vaccine rollout

NCIRS and ARIA support regional countries in COVID-19 vaccine rollout under Australia’s Vaccine Access Health Security Initiative

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2022
2022
Japanese encephalitis and monkeypox work
2022
NCIRS work on Japanese encephalitis and monkeypox

NCIRS pivots to support policy and planning for newly emergent diseases in Australia (Japanese encephalitis on mainland) and globally (monkeypox).

2022