COVID19 Road to a vaccine episode 12: Professor Heidi Larson

In this episode of COVID19 Road to a vaccine, our host, Associate Professor Nigel Crawford speaks to Professor Heidi Larson. Heidi is an anthropologist and Director of the Vaccine Confidence Project and Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The Vaccine Confidence Project is a WHO centre of excellence on addressing vaccine hesitancy. Heidi is the previous head of Global Immunisation Communication at UNICEF, chaired GAVI’s advocacy taskforce and served on the WHO SAGE working group on vaccine hesitancy. In this episode they discuss:

  • How and why Heidi founded The Vaccine Confidence Project
  • Why vaccine confidence is already proving to be so important in relation to a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine when there is not yet a vaccine that has gone through all the phases of a clinical trial
  • Whether or not vaccine confidence is impacted by the way in which different countries are handling the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic
  • The importance of health care workers modelling vaccine uptake to promote vaccine confidence
  • Positive ways we can use social media to promote vaccine preparedness
  • Resistance to mandatory vaccination and the importance of community vs herd immunity


Listen to the episode here:

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New immunisation reference page: Melbourne immunisation drive-through clinics

Staying up to date with scheduled and additional vaccinations, remains essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. Concerning results from the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) National Child Health Poll, indicate the impact that the pandemic has had on immunisation, with data showing 1 in 5 children have had those vaccinations delayed since the beginning of the pandemic.

Families are reminded that it is safe and recommended to attend local immunisation providers (GP or local council) for vaccinations, however drive-through clinics are also available at Monash Health in Clayton and the RCH in Parkville. 

For more information please refer to the following:

MVEC: Melbourne immunisation drive-through clinics

COVID19 Road to a vaccine episode 11: Associate Professor Margie Danchin and Professor Julie Leask

In episode 11 of our COVID19 Road to a vaccine series, our host, Nigel Crawford, speaks to experts in vaccine confidence, Associate Professor Margie Danchin and Professor Julie Leask. Margie is a consultant paediatrician at the Royal Children’s Hospital, an Associate Professor within the University of Melbourne Department of Paediatrics and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, where she is the leader of the Vaccine Uptake Group. Julie is a social scientist and professor in the Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney and a visiting Professorial Fellow at NCIRS (the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance). In this episode they discuss:

  • Responses to vaccine hesitancy and promoting vaccine confidence from an Australian perspective 
  • The importance of language and definitions when it comes to vaccine confidence, hesitancy and uptake 
  • (5) important ways to prepare the public for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine
  • The role of social media platforms in communicating this information
  • The importance of measuring vaccine confidence in the community
  • Ways of communicating well around adverse events in gaining community trust and maintaining vaccine programs, including utilising expertise from specialist immunisation clinics (SICs)


Listen to the episode here:

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The use of foetal tissue in vaccine development

There has been attention in the media recently regarding the use of foetal cell lines by the Oxford Vaccine Group to develop their COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Cell lines are currently used to manufacture many vaccines including varicella, hepatitis A, rabies and MMR vaccines. 

The below information from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHoP) discusses the background behind using these cell lines in vaccine development as well as any potential ethical or religious concerns surrounding this. 

Vaccine ingredients- Fetal tissues



The RCH Immunisation Service: Drive-through clinic is now open

To support families in continuing to receive scheduled vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic, the RCH Immunisation Service has just opened its own immunisation drive-through clinic. Additional precautions have been implemented to ensure the safety of all patients, families and staff. Access to medical care remains an essential service during this time and staying up to date with scheduled immunisations is encouraged.

The drive-through clinic will operate on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9am - 1pm until September 15. 

Bookings for the drive-through clinic are mandatory and can be made by contacting the immunisation team via this link. 

COVID19 Road to a vaccine episode 10: Professor Paul Young and Professor Trent Munro

In episode 10 of our COVID19 Road to a vaccine series, our host, Nigel Crawford, speaks with Professors Paul Young and Trent Munro to discuss the University of Queensland (UQ) COVID-19 vaccine candidate. UQ and CEPI (the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation) have partnered with CSL (Seqirus) to advance their novel molecular clamp technology to develop their vaccine for COVID-19. This vaccine has recently progressed to Phase 1 clinical trials. In this episode they discuss:

  • The University of Queensland COVID19 vaccine development process
  • The involvement of CEPI in their trial
  • The use of a molecular clamp platform in the development of their protein SARS-CoV-2 vaccine
  • Results of their preclinical trials
  • Their partnership with CSL/Seqirus and the use of the MF59 adjuvant
  • The timeline of their clinical trials and the upcoming steps 


Listen to the episode here:

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COVID19 Road to a vaccine episode 9: Professor Robert Booy

In episode 9 of our COVID19 Road to a vaccine series, our host, Associate Professor Nigel Crawford, speaks with Professor Robert Booy. Robert is a Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Sydney and is a Senior Professorial Fellow at NCIRS, the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance at Westmead Children’s Hospital. He has special research interests in serious infections and their prevention, particularly in the setting of aged care facilities. In this episode they discuss:

  • Special risk groups when it comes to SARS-CoV-2, in particular, those living and working in aged care facilities
  • How the ageing process leads to immunosenescence and the impact of this on vaccine efficacy in the elderly population
  • The use of adjuvants in vaccines for the elderly population
  • How to improve public health messaging and the management of respiratory illnesses in aged care facilities
  • Lessons learnt from around the world with high mortality rates in aged care residents and workers and how that can inform the response to outbreaks in aged care facilities in Australia


Listen to the episode here:

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The virus and the clock, with Moderna's Tal Zaks- A podcast with the Milken Institute

In this podcast, the Milken Institute interviews Tal Zaks, the Chief Medical Officer of Moderna Therapeutics to discuss the development of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate using messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. It took them only 63 days from the time the virus was sequenced until the vaccine candidate began human clinical trials. It is hoped that this new technology may also be adapted as possible treatments for other genetic diseases. 

Listen to the podcast here


NDTV speak to Professor Kanta Subbarao, Director of WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza

NDTV have spoken to Professor Kanta Subbarao, Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre For Reference And Research On Influenza in Melbourne, Australia about the race for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and the possibility of developing herd immunity.
Watch the video interview here:
In June, we spoke to Professor Subbarao in our COVID19 Road to a vaccine podcast series, access the episode here:

COVID19 Road to a vaccine episode 8: Professor Katie Flanagan

In episode 8 of our COVID19 Road to a vaccine series, our host, Associate Professor Nigel Crawford, speaks with Professor Katie Flanagan. Katie is Head of Infectious Diseases at Launceston General Hospital and is affiliated with the University of Tasmania, Monash University and RMIT where she is involved in a broad range of research projects, with her main interests being in vaccinology and infectious diseases immunology. She has led a number of vaccine immunology trials. In this episode they discuss:

  • Immunological aspects of SARS-CoV-2
  • Vaccine responses in adults versus children and the difference in adult immune systems
  • Vaccinology strategies being used in the development of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine
  • Antibody response variation by age
  • Viral vector vaccines and how they work
  • Novel vaccine approaches and the implications of these on vaccine safety including: mRNA and DNA SARS-CoV-2 vaccines 


Download the episode:

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