Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) Associate Professor Nigel Crawford has been announced as the new chair of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).

Associate Professor Crawford, Director of SAEFVIC (Surveillance of Adverse Events Following Vaccination In the Community (SAEFVIC) based at MCRI, was appointed to the role after being an ATAGI member since 2014.

ATAGI's role is to:

  • Advise the Federal Health Minister on the medical administration of vaccines available in Australia including those available through the National Immunisation Program (NIP)
  • Provide advice to research organisations on current immunisation research and areas that require more examination
  • Provide industry sponsors with pre-submission advice for potential submissions to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee on vaccine effectiveness and use in Australia  
  • Consult with relevant organisations to produce the Australian Immunisation Handbook
  • Consult with relevant organisations in implementing immunisation policies, procedures and vaccine safety

Nigel Crawford

Associate Professor Crawford is also the Medical Head of the Immunisation Service at The Royal Children's Hospital and an expert in the vaccination of at-risk groups such as immunosuppressed patients and the clinical evaluation of adverse reactions following immunisation. In 2021, he has been seconded as a Senior Medical Advisor to the COVID-19 vaccine safety and evaluation team at the Victorian Department of Health.

In addition, Associate Professor Crawford is on the Editorial Board of the MCRI-based Melbourne Vaccination Education Centre (MVEC), an educational website developed with the aim of providing up-to-date immunisation information for both healthcare professionals and members of the public.

His research focus includes vaccine-preventable diseases such as influenza, whooping cough, chickenpox and measles and common childhood infections which will hopefully become vaccine-preventable such as Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and Group A Streptococcus (GAS).

Associate Professor Crawford said he was honoured to be the new chair as the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the important role of a committee like ATAGI to provide consensus advice to the government on all aspects of immunisation.

"Vaccines are going to be our passport out of the pandemic, so we need to utilise them as safely and effectively as possible," he said. "We also need to continue to strengthen our immunisation systems and build on the platform developed by the Commonwealth in partnership with the states as part of the National Immunisation Program."