Congratulation to Paediatrician Margie Danchin, who was recently awarded The Bob and June Prickett Churchill Fellowship to optimise COVID-19 and routine vaccine acceptance and uptake.
Margie, who will visit the US, Canada, UK and Switzerland, said the global community was facing an unprecedented challenge due to COVID-19.
“COVID-19 is presenting a global health challenge. With vaccine hesitancy already nominated as one of the top 10 global health threats, extensive communication and engagement by public health departments will be needed to achieve the target of at least 70 per cent community uptake of a COVID-19 vaccine needed for herd immunity” she said.
Margie plans to visit global public health organisations, including UNICEF, CDC and Yale Institute of Global Health in the USA, Dalhousie University, Canada, London School Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK and WHO in Switzerland.
Margie will access leading international expertise to inform COVID-19 vaccine acceptance and uptake, develop interventions to improve routine vaccine uptake and respond to vaccine misinformation in Australia and the region.
“It is critical that we invest in effective COVID-19 vaccine communication and community engagement, informed by the behavioural and social sciences and effective communication skills. Learning and acquiring expertise in risk communication and behavioural science used during infectious disease emergencies will enable application of this cutting edge expertise to optimise uptake of COVID-19 and routine vaccines, as well as look at new ways to manage vaccine hesitancy and misinformation.”
“As the Chair of The Collaboration on Social Science and Immunisation (COSSI) and through established links with government and the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS), I hope to translate these key findings into policy and practice. I also hope this research will inform government campaigns and strategies at a national level for future pandemics.”
However, the uptake of a vaccine, is not the only immunisation challenge presented by COVID-19. Globally, there has been disruption to routine vaccine services and findings from The RCH National Child Health Poll in June this year confirmed that families are delaying important routine childhood immunisations.
“We know that routine vaccine rates have fallen globally during the pandemic with potentially devastating consequences if we see start to see outbreaks of measles and other vaccine preventable diseases. The uptake of routine vaccines like influenza remain an ongoing challenge,” said Margie.
“It is crucial to address the disruption to access of routine vaccination services and the drop in childhood immunisation coverage that has occurred globally, especially in low resource settings. “
“I am passionate about this area because I know it is critical that we invest in effective vaccine communication and behavioural science and community engagement to ensure vaccines are actually used and get to the people who need them most. Vaccines don’t save lives, vaccination does. “
“I also hope the skills I learn will directly benefit families at RCH and the next generation of clinicians and researchers.”
This year’s Churchill Fellowship was awarded to 112 Australians to create positive change in the community. For a full list of this year’s recipients, please click here.