Vaccine scares and successes

10 September 2012

Recent vaccine safety scares have the potential to undermine the trust of the public and health professionals in vaccines despite their widespread use to prevent local epidemics and global pandemics.

On 12 September, Professor Robert Booy from the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance at Sydney Medical School will focus on both recent and historical vaccine successes and scares in the fourth talk in the series 21st Century Medicine - today's research, tomorrow's healthcare.

Australia is conducting world-leading research on new vaccines, high quality surveillance of safety issues and pioneering novel approaches to vaccine delivery.

"Reflections on the history of vaccine development can inform current approaches if only we take the time to learn those lessons," says Professor Booy.

Concern about the safety of Australia's own brand of influenza vaccine arose in 2010 with reports of febrile convulsions in vaccinated infants; the associated vaccine remains suspended for use in young children while the mechanism of injury is becoming clearer.

A national government enquiry, the Horvath review, uncovered room for improvements that are being implemented.

"Our surveillance will be more active and able to detect new issues earlier," said Professor Booy.

"The recent crop of combined vaccines for serious bacterial diseases such as meningitis, pneumonia and blood poisoning might have been developed decades earlier and even now there is scope for using them more intelligently."

Professor Booy's research interests extend from understanding the genetic basis of susceptibility to, and severity of, infectious diseases especially influenza and invasive disease caused by encapsulated organisms to the clinical, public-health, social and economic burden of these diseases and the means by which to control serious infections through vaccines, drugs and non-pharmaceutical measures.

Over the past 10 years Professor Booy has been increasingly recognised as an expert in the influenza field. In addition he has led intervention studies with new vaccines, new vaccine delivery methods and alternate methods for preventing disease.

Event details

What: Vaccine scares and successes 

When: 6 to 7.30pm, Wednesday 12 September

Where: Lecture Theatre 101, New Law Building, Camperdown Campus. See map and directions 

Cost: Free

Book now online 

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