Focus on immunisation and vaccine hesitancy at IWD2020

Tracy Parish

04 March, 2020

Some of Burnet's fabulous women researchers and staff celebrating IWD 2020

A bumper turnout of Burnet’s wonderful supporters at our annual International Women’s Day (IWD) event were captivated by the inspiring presentations focussed on Immunisation: Barriers, Evidence and Possibilities.

Keynote, consultant paediatrician and researcher, Associate Professor Margie Danchin, from Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, The Royal Children’s Hospital and the University of Melbourne, shared her insights into the barriers and challenges in overcoming vaccine hesitancy and confidence in communities in Australia and our region.

She reinforced the message about the importance of vaccination to keep us safe from disease.

“We need to embed vaccine discussions and delivery into antenatal care and build trust and confidence in vaccines,” IWD 2020 keynote speaker Associate Professor Danchin said.

“Vaccine hesitancy has been identified by the World Health Organization as one of 10 threats to global health.”

Professor Danchin spoke about the impact when a community experiences a lack of trust in vaccines, indicated through vaccine hesitancy or refusal, such as experienced last year in Samoa with the devastating outbreak of measles.

More than 5000 children under five years of age contracted measles In Samoa and tragically more than 80 died, including three children from one family.

The key challenges to immunisation globally are:

  • low vaccine coverage
  • trying to control measles and protect women and children
  • vaccine hesitancy
  • social media and its impacts to vaccine trust and confidence.

Associate Professor Danchin also spoke about the MumBubVax intervention initiative and the need to encourage pregnant women to be vaccinated, for themselves and their baby.

“Pregnant women are more than twice as likely to develop serious complications from flu,” she said.

Two vaccines are recommended in pregnancy, flu and pertussis or “whooping cough”.

Emcee and Burnet’s Co-Program Director of Maternal and Child Health, Professor Caroline Homer said: “It’s great to hear about the MumBubVax intervention to increase uptake of vaccines to pregnant women - influenza and Whooping cough. Midwives are critical to the uptake of vaccinations.”

Image: (L-R) Presenters Professor Caroline Homer AO, Brooke Vandenberg, Associate Professor Margie Danchin, Lisa Davidson, Burnet Chair Mary Padbury, and Professor Gilda Tachedjian.

Burnet’s Professor Gilda Tachedjian also presented on a bold multinational, collaborative research project – EVE-M – that will transform women’s sexual and reproductive health.

EVE-M will provide major insights on how the microbiome can impact on sexual and reproductive health, and provide practical solutions to reduce the spread of sexually transmissible infections, bacterial vaginosis and HIV.

Professor Tachedjian explained how the vaginal microbiome affects HIV risk. Recent research found that an unusual bacteria in the vagina of women in South Africa may explain why they experienced higher HIV rates.

Image: Thanks to our supporters who shared IWD 2020 with us.

Image: Burnet chairman Mary Padbury with guest Tanya Costello.

The guests enjoyed the interactive activity where they discovered the importance of health systems to manage data around immunisation to ensure maximum coverage of young children in resource-poor settings such as PNG.

Burnet’s immunisation research projects in Papua New Guinea were also highlighted by public health researchers Lisa Davidson and Brooke Vandenberg.

Find out more about Burnet’s immunisation research in PNG.

Image: Celebrating IWD in PNG.

Meanwhile in Kokopo, Papua New Guinea our Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies research staff celebrated IWD2020 at a special morning tea.

“Generation equality will only be achieved by us all coming together to promote women’s leadership at all levels,” Burnet’s PNG Country Representative Meredith Tutamang said.

IWD 2020 - #EachForEqual

The theme for International Women’s Day 2020 is #EachForEqual - a call to action to join forces across generations, to create a world where every girl and woman has equal opportunities to fulfil their full potential.

And that starts with health!

International Women’s Day was honoured for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March 1911, and the day is marked around the world on 8 March.

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor Caroline Homer AO

Burnet Executive Team; Co-Program Director, Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health; Working Group Head


[email protected]

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