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Vaxtracker wins Hunter New England Health Excellence Award

Newcastle-based Vaxtracker – a long-term partner of Australia’s active vaccine safety surveillance collaborative AusVaxSafety – was recently announced as the winner of the ‘Keeping People Healthy’ category at the 2023 Hunter New England Health Excellence Awards.

The award comes in recognition of the innovative work of Vaxtracker in ensuring the ongoing safe use of vaccines in Australia, including during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of its ongoing work to monitor the safety of vaccines used in Australia, AusVaxSafety gathers data from vaccine recipients across Australia – from COVID-19 vaccination hubs set up during the pandemic to secondary school immunisation programs. This is a challenging task, but one that is crucial to having enough vaccine safety data to allow for meaningful analyses.

In recent years, the partnership between Vaxtracker and AusVaxSafety – which began in 2014 – has involved innovative use of technology to capture the full spectrum of experiences in the days following vaccination.

Vaxtracker has helped to recruit AusVaxSafety survey participants through the use of ‘QR code posters' at vaccination sites across Australia. After scanning the QR code on a poster with their smartphone, participants are sent a link to an AusVaxSafety survey via SMS or email. Signing up is a quick, easy process and all responses remain confidential.

This initiative has increased not only the number of AusVaxSafety survey participants but also the geographical reach of the surveys. Millions of Australians have responded to AusVaxSafety surveys sent to them in the days following vaccination.

 The award judges were impressed by how rapidly novel vaccine safety surveillance systems had been set up for COVID-19 and mpox vaccines.

Vaxtracker Coordinator Renee Reynolds agreed, noting that ‘what stood out was the fact we were able to scale up so quickly, across so many areas of the country’.

As Renee notes, the system enabled survey participants to become ‘part of ensuring the ongoing safe use of vaccines in this country’.

AusVaxSafety congratulates the Vaxtracker team. Dr Anny Huang, AusVaxSafety Clinical Lead, said, ‘The rapid rollout and success of COVID-19 and mpox vaccine safety surveillance in Australia would not have been possible without the hard work and expertise of our collaborators at Vaxtracker. We wholeheartedly congratulate them on this well-deserved success.’

Click here to read more about the awards and other winners