Program leads: Ms Telphia Joseph and Dr Rob Menzies
A/Prof Heather Gidding, A/Prof Bette Liu
Students: Ms Amalie Dyda
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have substantially poorer health and shorter life expectancy than the rest of the Australian population. Vaccine programs have been successful in reducing disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people for specific vaccine-preventable diseases, despite persistent adverse social and environmental conditions.
For vaccines included in the National Immunisation Program (NIP), coverage is comparable in Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. While significant reductions in vaccine-preventable disease burden have been seen in both, persistent delays in vaccination among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to place them at increased risk of disease in early life. Australia has had a number of vaccine programs included on the NIP only for Indigenous people, and coverage for these programs is substantially lower than for universal NIP vaccines, largely related to poor identification of Indigenous status among health service providers and cultural and practical barriers to health service access.
Poor quality data on disease and health service delivery has limited the ability to monitor program effectiveness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The VIRL team has extensive experience in Indigenous vaccinology research and has developing methods to extend the use of administrative datasets. Research in this theme focuses on methods to improve Indigenous identifiers, means to monitor program effectiveness, methods to better target vaccination programs and models of delivering immunisation programs to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and research into improving vaccine delivery, coverage and timeliness.