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NCIRS undertakes surveillance and epidemiological analysis of vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) using de-identified national datasets of VPD notifications, hospitalisations and deaths. VPD notification data collected through the National Interoperable Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NINDSS) are obtained from the Communicable Diseases Network Australia, VPD hospitalisation data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare National Hospital Morbidity Database, and VPD death data from the Australian Coordinating Registry.
NCIRS, in close collaboration with the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, Office of Health Protection (in particular the Communicable Disease Epidemiology and Surveillance Section) and individual states and territories, undertakes epidemiological analysis and reporting of notifiable disease data. NCIRS is the only organisation to systematically analyse hospitalisations and deaths coded as related to VPDs. Hospitalisations and deaths provide a valuable complementary source of data, being generally a subset of more severe presentations compared with disease notifications. NCIRS has developed considerable expertise in assessing data quality and the relative merits and uses of hospitalisation and death data versus notification data, which vary for each VPD. NCIRS also has expertise in epidemiological analysis of vaccine effectiveness, using a variety of methods.
NCIRS produces regular VPD surveillance reports, and a range of epidemiological reviews of particular VPDs, published in peer-reviewed journals (refer to Publications). Surveillance data and epidemiological analyses are also included in reports for the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation and in National Immunisation Program evaluations.
The Summary of National Surveillance Data on Vaccine Preventable Diseases in Australia, 2016–2018 report on the epidemiology of VPDs was published as a supplement issue of Communicable Diseases Intelligence, Volume 46 in 2022. This report serves as a national resource for supporting and informing surveillance and control of diseases for which there are national immunisation programs.
NCIRS published its first national surveillance report on the epidemiology of VPDs and vaccination coverage in 2000, reporting on routinely collected national data on notifications, hospitalisations and deaths due to selected VPDs of public health significance. This report covered the period 1993–1998, with subsequent reports providing updates on these data every 2–4 years.
NCIRS has also led the use of VPD surveillance data to evaluate and track trends in morbidity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Reports that focus on VPDs and vaccination coverage in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are published regularly. Refer to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Immunisation to read more.
The Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) Case Surveillance Scheme (HCSS) is an enhanced surveillance system coordinated by NCIRS. The HCSS is designed to collect supplementary information not routinely available from the NINDSS on cases of laboratory-confirmed invasive Hib disease. The HCSS was established in January 1994, following the introduction of Hib vaccine on the National Immunisation Program in 1993, with data collected retrospectively to 1 July 1993. Designated state and territory health department staff complete an enhanced surveillance form for each case of invasive Hib disease. Data collected include detailed information on immunisation status and disease, including information on past medical history of the case, outcome of the case and laboratory confirmation method.
Hib enhanced surveillance form