Single Course

Communication for an Effective Immunization

Safety, Health and Environment (SHE)

Course Summary:

Effective communication is a critical component in ensuring that children are fully vaccinated. Although numerous communication interventions have been proposed and implemented in various parts of Africa, the range of communication strategies used has not yet been mapped systematically. This course forms part of the ‘Communicate to vaccinate’ (COMMVAC) project, an initiative aimed at building research evidence for improving communication with parents and communities about childhood vaccinations in low- and middle-income countries.

Understanding Vaccines and the National Immunisation Program aims to equip health professionals with knowledge and skills to competently deliver a high quality and safe immunisation service.

Course Objectives:

  • Identify the communication strategies used in two states in Africa;
  • Map these strategies against the existing COMMVAC taxonomy, a global taxonomy of vaccination communication interventions;
  • Create a specific country map of interventions organised by purpose and target
  • Analyse gaps between the COMMVAC taxonomy
  • Over the past decade there has been exponential growth in the number of vaccines added to the immunisation schedule and the number of groups eligible to receive free vaccines through the National Immunisation Program.
  • This expansion has resulted in increased complexity of the immunisation schedule and immunisation programs in general.
  • Vaccines are administered to babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers, adolescents as well as pregnant women, the elderly and other vulnerable groups of all ages.
  • Health professionals, especially those involved in delivering vaccines, need to be well informed to confident respond to questions and concerns raised by the community.

Course Outline

Module 1

This module aims to introduce the learner to immunisation as a public health measure and discusses the effectiveness of immunisation programs. The module delivers information on the fundamentals of microbiology and immunology, providing a foundation of vaccination, vaccine types and components, vaccine performance and licensing and how vaccines work. The National Immunisation Program (NIP) is introduced, including the strategic priorities of the NIP and the role of key stakeholders. Module topics include:

  • Why we immunise
  • Basic microbiology
  • Basic immunology
  • Vaccines
  • National Immunisation Program
  • Vaccine performance and vaccine licensing

Module 2

Levels of many vaccine preventable diseases are low in Africa, but there continues to be a risk of diseases being imported, and others continue to occur in Africa. Module 2 presents information on each vaccine preventable disease in the National Immunisation Program followed by information on the vaccine designed to protect against the disease. The recommended age of administration and number of doses required for each vaccine is discussed, and how this is determined by the vaccine type and the need to balance disease protection for a particular age group with the need to ensure an appropriate immune response. Module topics include:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Diphtheria and tetanus
  • Pertussis
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b
  • Polio
  • Pneumococcal
  • Rotavirus
  • Meningococcal,
  • Hepatitis A
  • Measles, mumps, rubella
  • Varicella
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Influenza
  • Herpes zoster

Module 3

This module will deliver information on specific groups that, for a variety of reasons, are at higher risk of some vaccine preventable diseases and have special vaccination requirements. Module 3 will aim to assist the health practitioner to apply the legal and ethical considerations for immunisation practice, gain valid consent, effectively communicate risk in the clinical setting and provide the learner with an understanding of the key elements of vaccine safety.

The learner is informed of the potential adverse events after the administration of a vaccine, how to advise the individuals of these and how adverse events are reported, monitored and investigated to ensure community safety and maintain confidence in immunisation programs. Module topics include:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Pregnancy and preterm infants
  • Immunocompromised individuals
  • Those at occupational risk
  • Refugee immunisation programs
  • International travel
  • Other groups with special vaccination requirements
  • Legislation, consent, ethics, and informing individuals
  • Vaccine safety
  • Adverse Event Following Immunisation and Adverse reactions

Module 4

This module describes the requirements for vaccine storage and the national recommendations that are to be integrated into practice to ensure vaccines remain potent and effective so that when administered, they provide protection against these vaccine preventable diseases in the community.

Module 4 will introduce the learner to the requirements necessary to deliver a high quality and safe immunisation service and the strategies and resources to improve immunisation coverage rates in Australia. The importance of the need for immunisation providers to be proficient in all aspects of the clinical encounter will be discussed and the steps involved in calculating a catch-up schedule. Module topics include:

  • Vaccine distribution and cold chain management
  • Pre-vaccination screening and post-vaccination procedures
  • Immunisation coverage rates
  • Planning a catch-up schedule
  • Delivering an immunisation service