Call for disease surveillance funding

THE introduction of new vaccines to the Australian schedule should be matched with improved disease surveillance, a leading immunisation researcher says in the wake of the Budget.

“It’s fantastic that we are introducing new and better vaccines, but we also need to invest in surveillance programs,” said Professor Robert Booy, head of clinical research at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, Sydney.

“Investing 5% of the cost of the vaccine program in surveillance would contribute to much better understanding of disease control and vaccine safety.”

Four million dollars allocated in the Budget to continue influenza surveillance over four years was “very welcome”, but wider surveillance was needed, he said.

The Budget also provided $40.7 million for a catch-up program that begins in October and allows children aged 12–35 months already vaccinated against pneumococcal