School of Population Health

Using social and behavioural insights to improve vaccine coverage in at-risk populations

Vaccine coverage

More than ninety percent of young Australians are being immunised for vaccine preventable diseases.  But the rate is much lower for refugees and migrants, older adults and other at-risk groups and our researchers are working to understand why.

Immunisation is recommended throughout life to prevent vaccine-preventable diseases (VPD), VPD-associated morbidity and mortality and to prevent ongoing transmission of infections within the community.

Despite achieving excellent infant and childhood vaccine uptake, national vaccination coverage in adults is low, thus making adults susceptible to VPDs and important modes of transmission of infection. Achieving optimal vaccination coverage in adults has proven especially challenging.

At the SPHCM, we are undertaking a program of social and behavioural research to understand the factors that are impacting on vaccine acceptance and coverage and then developing new approaches to support health departments and immunisation providers to improve their services.

Led by Dr Holly Seale, we currently have projects focused on children and adults with comorbidities, healthcare workers, refugees and migrant travellers. The research program involves policy reviews, evaluations of media/government communication and online resources, evaluation of immunisation programs, and development of education resources.

Underpinning this research are the behavioural insights that are collated via in-depth interviews, focus groups and surveys with different populations.  

While much of this research has a domestic focus, we have also worked with international health departments in Vietnam, China and Indonesia to carry out projects focused on immunisation.