VaxiMums program: filling evidence gaps in uptake, safety, effectiveness and surveillance of maternal vaccinations in Australia

Project opportunity

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

Three vaccines are routinely recommended in pregnancy to reduce the burden of respiratory illnesses (influenza, pertussis, and COVID) but the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) does not collect ‘pregnancy’ status. So when pandemics or outbreaks occur, there is no way to actively monitor and surveil vaccine impact (uptake, safety, vaccine effectiveness and equity). Measuring their impact can only be currently achieved in Australia through data linkage and observational studies. Consumers, health care professionals and vaccine providers need confidence that maternal vaccination is safe and effective because confidence drives vaccine acceptance and uptake.

VaxiMums aims to evaluate the impact of Australia's antenatal vaccination programs using our surveillance & data linkage expertise and build a (near) real-time national surveillance system to routinely monitor their uptake, safety, effectiveness & equity. There are a number of projects available to achieve this aim.

The Objectives are:

  • Using the CDC framework for establishing surveillance systems-identify the key attributes required to establish a national maternal vaccination surveillance system
  • Include spatial epidemiology & mapping capabilities to plot maternal vaccinations, overlayed with influenza, pertussis & COVID-19 infections in pregnancy and infancy at a postcode level. Initially using Qld data as a pilot, but developed so that it is systems ready to be rolled out nationally and can include more vaccines as they become recommended in pregnancy.
  • Obtain multiple, linked datasets that can be interrogated by person, place and time with simultaneous ongoing monitoring and evaluation that identifies:
    • areas of inequity in uptake (geographically & by socio-economic deciles)
    • adverse safety signals based on observed/expected hazard ratios
    • changes in vaccine effectiveness

Scholarship value

As a scholarship recipient, you'll receive: 

  • living stipend of $32,192 per annum tax free (2023 rate), indexed annually
  • tuition fees covered
  • single Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)


Dr Lisa McHugh

Faculty of Medicine


Preferred educational background

Your application will be assessed on a competitive basis.

We take into account your

  • previous academic record
  • publication record
  • honours and awards
  • employment history.

A working knowledge of ethics applications and project management would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of epidemiology and different research methods and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of infectious diseases is highly desirable.

Latest commencement date

If you are the successful candidate, you must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2026. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date.

If you are an international applicant, you may need to apply much earlier for visa requirements.

How to apply

You apply for this project as part of your PhD program application.

View application process