Following an unexpected spate of adverse events among children who received one brand of influenza vaccine in 2010, a review was conducted by Professor John Horvath into responses to adverse events following immunisation. One of these recommendations included the establishment of an active system of monitoring adverse events following immunisation, which led to the establishment of AusVaxSafety in 2014. 

Until then, adverse events were primarily monitored through a passive system administered by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which relies on the parent or the patient reporting any adverse reactions to their general practitioner (GP). However, this can be time-consuming and depends on the patient actually notifying their doctor about the adverse event(s), and the GP reporting them on to the TGA. This problem prompted clinicians, academics and different levels of government across Australia to start looking at more robust and timely ways of monitoring adverse events following immunisation.

AusVaxSafety, led by the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance and funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, was initially established as a collaborative initiative to actively monitor the safety of influenza vaccines in children aged <5 years using automated SMS technology to solicit feedback from vaccine recipients and parents. 

In recent years AusVaxSafety has further expanded to conduct active surveillance of seasonal influenza vaccine in people aged 6 months and older (including pregnant women), pertussis booster vaccine safety in children aged 12 months to 6 years, zoster vaccine in adults aged 70–79 years, human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in adolescents aged 11–14 years and pertussis booster vaccine in pregnant women.

From 2016 two new projects were also funded under AusVaxSafety: Adverse Events Following Immunisation-Clinical Assessment Network and vaccine safety in primary healthcare data.

AusVaxSafety has now grown into a world-leading collaboration between immunisation providers, private enterprise, research institutions, state and territory governments and the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, which has significantly improved Australia’s ability to monitor, detect and respond to vaccine safety events.

Last updated August 2022