MVEC Clinical Vaccinology Update: Save the date

This year’s MVEC Clinical Vaccinology Update (CVU) will be held at the University of Melbourne on Monday 30 October 2023.

MVEC’s annual CVU offers healthcare professionals the opportunity to hear from leading experts on the latest developments and trends in immunisation.

Further details about the event program and ticket sales will be provided soon. For regular updates from MVEC, subscribe to our newsletter or follow us @mvecau on Instagram and Twitter and at Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre – MVEC on Facebook.

Immunisation Coalition: Professor Allan Cripps memorial webinar on invasive pneumococcal disease

In honour of the late Professor Allan Cripps, the Immunisation Coalition will hold a tribute webinar on Thursday 10 August from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. 

The event aims to highlight Professor Cripps’s key achievements and to shed light on advancements in diagnosis, treatment and prevention of pneumococcal disease. 

The panel features MVEC Director Professor Nigel Crawford along with Dr Sarah Chu, Professor Robert Clancy, Professor Katie Flanagan and Dr Sanjay Jayasinghe. 

Find more details and register on the Immunisation Coalition’s event page. 

Medical Journal of Australia: Local research examines COVID’s impact on cancer patients

This multicentre, national study examined the impact of COVID-19 disease on patients with cancer from March 2020 to April 2022.

Results indicated that patients with blood cancers tested positive for COVID-19 on PCR for a considerably longer time than those with solid organ tumours. Chemotherapy type or specific immunosuppressive therapies were not predictive of severe disease.

Reassuringly, the severity of COVID-19 disease in patients with cancer has decreased over time. This coincides with increasing rates of vaccination, hybrid immunity, robust testing mechanisms and the availability of and early use of antiviral therapies.  

Even though newer strains of COVID-19 have the potential for evading protection induced by vaccination and antibody therapies, there is still good cross protection due to T-cell immunity. Therefore, a 3-dose course of primary vaccination as well as booster doses is recommended for severely immunocompromised individuals.  

Medical Journal of Australia: Local research examines COVID’s impact on cancer patients

Asia-Pacific vaccine research seminar series: Tuberculosis webinar

A free webinar on the topic ‘Why do we need a new tuberculosis vaccine’ will be held today, 27 July 2023 from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm. 

The webinar is chaired by Professors Steve Graham and Fiona Russell, and features speakers Dr Trisasi Lestari, Professor Nigel Curtis and Professor Jamie Triccas. 

Find more details about the webinar and access to the zoom link on the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute event page. 

The dangers of vaccine misinformation: Robert F Kennedy Jr

Recently, you may have read about Robert F Kennedy Jr’s anti-vaccine views after he was featured on Joe Rogan’s podcast. Robert F Kennedy Jr is a long-time promoter of vaccine misinformation.

A recent report from the MSNBC news network in the United States demonstrates the real-world dangers of vaccine misinformation.

The report examines how the 2019 measles epidemic in Samoa was linked to Robert F Kennedy’s statements on the measles vaccine. Robert F Kennedy Jr's anti-vaccine group Children’s Health Defense bolstered a local Samoan anti-vaccine movement which had emerged in response to the 2018 deaths of two children after vaccine administration errors. The anti-vaccine movement misrepresented the vaccine itself as the cause of death, leading to a significant decrease in vaccination rates.

Not only did vaccine misinformation contribute to the devastating measles epidemic, but it also overshadowed important discussions relating to vaccine errors.

Nurse and educator Jessica Stokes-Parish has written Vaccine Concerns & SciComm: An Analysis about the scientific community’s reaction to Robert F Kennedy Jr. From a science communications lens, she analyses some common strategies that may be intended to discredit misinformation but fail to engage and educate the general public.

Department of Health and Aged Care: Vaccination for Our Mob

Based on National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) data, the Vaccination for Our Mob report has recently been published. The report focuses on vaccine-preventable diseases and vaccine coverage in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from 2016 to 2019.

Reminder: Victorian Government funded pertussis program has ended

As of 1 July 2023, the Victorian Government funded pertussis (whooping cough) vaccination program, for partners of pregnant women and guardians of infants, is no longer running.

Partners of pregnant women and close household contacts of newborn infants are still encouraged to be vaccinated and can access a pertussis-containing vaccine privately.

Pregnant women, between 20 and 32 weeks, remain eligible for a funded pertussis vaccine through the National Immunisation Program (NIP).

NIP change: New vaccine Vaxelis® available

From 1 July 2023, Vaxelis® has been added to the National Immunisation Program (NIP) schedule.

Vaxelis® is a hexavalent (six-in-one) vaccine that protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, poliomyelitis and haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib). Vaxelis® is an alternative to Infanrix® hexa, for primary vaccination at 6 weeks, 4 months and 6 months. It can also be used for catch-up vaccination in children under 10 years of age. There is no preferred vaccine between the two options and both have a similar safety profile.

Vaxelis® is a single-dose 0.5 mL pre-filled syringe and, unlike Infanrix® hexa, does not require reconstitution. Vaxelis® has a whiteish, cloudy appearance.

Completing a primary course of vaccination with the same brand of hexavalent vaccine is preferred. However, where this is not possible the alternate brand may be used.

Vaxelis® can be given on the same day as other vaccines and can be administered in the same limb as other vaccines. Where more than one vaccine is administered into the same limb, a spacing of 2.5 cm should be maintained.

NIP: Changes from 1 July 2023

NIP change: Bexsero® catch-up ongoing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children under 2

From 1 July 2023, the National Immunisation Program (NIP) meningococcal B catch-up program, originally planned to cease on 30 June 2023, is ongoing.

Meningococcal is a rare but potentially life-threatening infection caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis. People with invasive meningococcal disease can become extremely unwell very quickly.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are funded to receive the meningococcal B vaccine Bexsero® at 2, 4 and 12 months (with an additional dose at 6 months for those with medical risk factors). The catch-up program enables Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to receive their first dose of Bexsero® up until they turn 2 years old. (As long as the first dose is received < 2, the complete course is funded even if subsequent doses are administered once the child is 2 or older.)

NIP: Changes from 1 July 2023

MVEC: Meningococcal