The VaxPol Lab brings together new and existing programs of work on vaccine policy and regulation and the social science of vaccination from UWA’s School of Social Sciences, Law School, School of Allied Health, and beyond. Lab members and affiliates study existing and potential vaccination policies within Australia and globally. The Lab explores how and why policies are designed and implemented, details of design and operation, and implications for populations and government.
We aim to:
- conduct cutting-edge, interdisciplinary scholarship of vaccination policy that informs the global field and is useful to policymakers
- build research capacity for vaccination policy analysis and vaccination social science in Western Australia and beyond
VaxPol Lab brings together vaccination research
Current research projects
- Advancing Solutions for Addressing Vaccine Rejection: The Drivers and Impact of Mandatory Vaccination
Dr Katie Attwell’s flagship Commonwealth-funded project studies numerous facets of new mandatory vaccination policies for children in Australia, Italy, France and California. It considers agenda setting, design, use of expertise, enforcement, exemptions and the presentation of impacts and results. Dr Attwell is currently contracted to Oxford University Press to write a book on California’s vaccination policy with Professor Mark Navin, Oakland University, Michigan.
ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award DE190100158
- Country WA Immunisation Coverage Rates Scoping Project: WA Country Health Services
- Using a modified TIP (Tailoring Immunisation Projects) strategy, this project explores why the regions of Western Australia continue to grapple with sub-optimal vaccination coverage for 2-year-olds. TIP has been developed by the World Health Organization and is used frequently in European member-states to understand reasons for under-vaccination in specific groups or regions. Future extensions of this project will move beyond situational analysis and workshops to develop and test interventions to increase coverage.
- Vaccination Systems Resilience
- This globally focused project develops and validates a self-assessment tool for immunisation managers and other key officials to make sense of areas of strength or weakness in their policies and programs. The project is funded by the Fondation Merieux and is intended to enhance the governance of vaccination in countries of varying economic and political development.
- Norms, standards, and enforcement of the COVID-19 International Certificate of Vaccination
- Dr Katie Attwell is a member of this global research team, led by Dr Andy Knight at the University of Alberta. Global leaders, policymakers, public health scholars and practitioners are considering whether a COVID-19 International Certificate of Vaccination might be the way forward for safely reopening borders. This project will provide policy guidance and insights for government and international health authorities. It will have the potential to guide countries in safely reopening their borders to the free movement of people, goods and services.
- No Fault Compensation for Adverse Effects Following Vaccination
Shevaun Drislane's research explores why Australia has not enacted no fault compensation for serious adverse reactions following immunisation, and opportunities or constraints that exist in Australia for future efforts to introduce this policy. Engaging in comparative case study analysis, she examines why and how no fault compensation was introduced in other countries (the United Kingdom and the United States) and, as part of this, considers the role played by citizen collective action to influence the policy agenda-setting process.
- Actively monitoring the safety of immunisation from community pharmacy
- This project and its extension – the COVID-19 Vaccines in Pharmacy project – examine vaccine safety surveillance processes, knowledge and systems in Australian community pharmacies. Through partnership with key vaccine recording and surveillance platforms, we have developed an automated system to identify and report adverse reactions to COVID-19 and other vaccines administered by pharmacists. It will add vaccine safety information from pharmacies to existing information from general practices and immunisation clinics to improve early detection of any side effects linked to new COVID-19 vaccines and ensure only the safest vaccines remain in use. The overall system provides an end-to-end model for vaccine delivery, including booking, recording, reporting, reminders and active surveillance, and has the potential to be scaled globally.
- No Jab, No Play, Which Way?
- ‘No Jab, No Play, Which Way?’ seeks to help governments to make better public policy in the important area of childhood vaccination. Governments in Australia and internationally are tackling parents’ vaccine refusal by imposing consequences. Five state governments have introduced ‘No Jab, No Play’ policies which are designed to deny unvaccinated children access to childcare, complementing federal policies that impose further consequences. However, the policies vary significantly across states. The effects of these differences are not understood, so we have little idea which strategy works best, nor do we know anything about their other consequences and impacts. Our mixed methods design will allow us to compare and contrast the state policies and consider their effectiveness, impacts and their relationship to the federal policy. This allows us to contribute to knowledge regarding governance, and state and federal policy relationships.
- Building Vaccine Confidence Against Bad Science: The Role of Liability and Compensation Schemes for Vaccine Related Injuries
- Dr Marco Rizzi leads this project, which seeks to find avenues for strengthening vaccine confidence. The project involves three types of activities. First, dissemination of in-depth analysis of liability regimes for vaccine-related injuries in major jurisdictions to interested stakeholders and a wider public to spark debate over the strengths and vulnerabilities of legal systems faced with controversial claims based on ‘bad’ science. Secondly, illustration through an in-depth case study (Italy) of the risks to vaccine confidence of governance failures in dealing with controversial claims (both in policy and legal processes). Finally, setting the scene for invigorating a policy agenda geared at the introduction of a No-Fault Compensation plan for vaccine-related injuries in Australia as a potential tool to boost vaccine confidence. This project was awarded a UWA Research Impact Grant in January 2020.
Our members and collaborators
- Our members
- Our collaborators
Samantha is an early-career, mixed-methods social researcher with five years of experience in leading and designing research that seeks to understand how to improve access to and understanding about vaccination. She is a Postdoctoral Research Officer at the Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases at Telethon Kids Institute, and an Honorary Research Fellow at The University of Western Australia. Samantha draws on her expertise to contribute to important resources about vaccination for consumers and health care providers.
Dr Michael Deml
Dr Michael Deml holds a PhD in Epidemiology/Public Health (Faculty of Medicine, University of Basel, Switzerland) and a MA in Sociology (University of Geneva, Switzerland). A Swiss National Science Foundation Postdoc.Mobility Fellow, Michael joins Dr Katie Attwell and her team to study coronavirus vaccine rollout in the Australian context and the impacts of the epidemic on routine vaccine uptake and sentiment. His previous research has employed qualitative and mixed methods to study vaccine hesitancy and under-immunisation in Switzerland. As a social scientist, Michael is interested in patient-provider interactions, infectious disease prevention, medicalised prevention, the politics of prevention and health risk governance.
Mark Christopher Navin
Mark Christopher Navin, PhD, HEC-C, is Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Oakland University (Rochester, MI, USA) and Clinical Ethicist at Beaumont Health. He works primarily in clinical ethics and the ethics of public health, and also conducts empirical research about immunisation policies. His monograph Values and Vaccine Refusal: Hard Questions in Ethics, Epistemology and Health Care was published by Routledge in 2016. His articles have appeared in journals including JAMA Pediatrics, Milbank Quarterly, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Pediatrics, Vaccine, American Journal of Bioethics, Hastings Center Report, and Journal of Medical Ethics. Along with Katie Attwell, he is author of America's Vaccine Wars: California and the Politics of Mandates, under contract with Oxford University Press.
Work with us
Prospective researchers interested in researching vaccination policy, especially from a political science, public policy or social science perspective can join existing projects or craft their own with input from supervisors. Prospective researchers must be willing to complete a PhD by publication. If you’d like to get involved, contact Dr Katie Attwell on the details below.
How do we know the COVID vaccine won't have long-term side-effects?
As Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout begins this week, many people still have questions about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.Read more
Yeh, nah, maybe
When it comes to accepting the COVID vaccine, it’s Australia’s fence-sitters we should pay attention to.Read more
Researchers awarded $3.2M state funding to tackle COVID health challenges
UWA was successful in receiving 10 Future Health Research and Innovation (FHRI) Fund Focus Grants.Read more
Program to monitor safety of pharmacy vaccines including COVID
A successful Australian pilot study led by UWA could lead to monitoring the safety of vaccines administered in pharmacies across Australia, including the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.Read more