Associate Professor Katie Attwell

Started at UWA: 2017

Addressing the pointy end of mandatory vaccination policy 

I love the content area that I research and teach, and I love sharing it with students. If I’m excited, then hopefully they are too.Dr Katie Attwell 

Dr Katie Attwell is an Associate Professor with the UWA School of Social Sciences. She is a political science and public policy scholar with global expertise in vaccine hesitancy and policies for childhood and COVID-19 vaccines. Katie has led community, policy, and behavioural research in vaccination uptake since 2014, the year of her ground-breaking “I Immunise” campaign to address alternative lifestyle-based vaccine hesitancy in Fremantle. 

Katie grew up in the City of Rockingham, Western Australia, as the child of two teachers. Growing up, Katie pursued a career in music in Perth’s underground music scene of the 1990s. During her undergraduate degree, she decided that a career as a lecturer of political science would be a good ‘Plan B’. Katie juggled her passion for music with travel and raising a family, while completing her higher degree studies.

Katie specialises in mandatory vaccination policy across Australia, Europe, and The United States of America, researching the tactics their governments use to motivate people to vaccinate, how policies make it to the agenda, how they are designed, how they differ, and how they work. She recently completed an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA: 2019-2022). She leads a large program of work supporting a collection of researchers working on vaccine uptake and policy issues through her VaxPolLab, and is the Chair of the Collaboration on Immunisation and Social Science (COSSI).

Katie contributed expertise nationally and globally through during the COVID-19 vaccine rollout numerous academic and government forums and via the media. She continues to lead the mixed methods, multidisciplinary project “Coronavax: Preparing Community and Government”.

Katie’s work allows her to travel to amazing places interviewing those who are central to introducing and implementing vaccination policies. The COVID-19 pandemic cemented her key interest in the role of the state in shaping vaccine uptake and acceptance.


  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Murdoch University, 2013
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) (Hons), Murdoch University, 2005
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA), Murdoch University, 2001

External positions

  • Honorary Fellow of the Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases, Telethon Kids Institute 
  • Visiting Fellow, Vaccines and Society Unit, Oxford University

2018 Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) to research mandatory vaccination internationally

2016 Teaching excellence award for high student satisfaction results – Murdoch University

2014 Vice Chancellor’s Citation for Enhancing Student Learning – Murdoch University

2013 Vice Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence – Murdoch University


Dr Katie Attwell is currently researching mandatory vaccination policies in Italy, France and The United States of America. She collaborates with in-country teams who research specific local questions as well as feed into her broader project. She is also an associate investigator on the National Health and Medical Research Council project: developing evidence-based strategies for addressing childhood vaccination rejection. Katie and her team are addressing the issue of non-vaccination in Australia and considering suitable strategies to address it. She is also an investigator in the MumBubVax project, engaging midwives as vaccine promoters for pregnant women. 

Teaching and PhD opportunities

Katie teaches in the disciplines of political science, public policy and studies in human society and has previously taught the UWA undergraduate Political Science and International Relations unit, POLS3204 The Politics of Gender. She currently teaches one postgraduate unit, POLS5505 Regulation and Governance. Katie feels inspired when she witnesses her students critically analysing a concept or issue and forming connections with interconnected research parts. 

Dr Katie Attwell has been supervising UWA Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) students since 2017 on topics such as vaccination policy and post-abortion experiences. Katie will be seeking project applications directly or closely related to vaccination, vaccine hesitancy or vaccine mandates until 2022.


Dr Katie Attwell has received financial support from: 

  • 2019-2022 Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award - $405,751
  • 2019-2022 The University of Western Australia, Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Education - $70,000
  • 2018 Department of Health - $31,686.36

Contact Dr Katie Attwell

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Research repository

Read more about Dr Attwell

Research repository