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Meet MCRI: Dr Margie Danchin

Institute News
Published: 
Thursday, February 8, 2018 - 2:45pm

Dr Margie Danchin is a Senior Research Fellow in Vaccine and Immunisation Research 

Tell us about your work

I am a general paediatrician and senior research fellow at MCRI. I have worked on vaccine research around clinical trials, vaccine safety and vaccine social science for 10 years. My current focus is around developing new interventions to improve vaccine confidence and uptake. I am passionate about finding ways to help parents choose to immunise their children with confidence and have their questions addressed. Vaccine hesitancy is a global issue and we need effective interventions to sustain confidence in vaccine programs to improve vaccine uptake and reduce vaccine preventable diseases in mothers and children.

What are you hoping to achieve through the work that you’re doing/what is your ideal goal?

I hope to mandate vaccine conversations with mothers, particularly first time mothers, early and at regular times in pregnancy so that vaccine discussions become a routine part of antenatal care in Australia. My team and I are developing innovative interventions for midwives and obstetricians to deliver these messages in public antenatal clinics, as well as easy to access resources for parents that address their concerns about both maternal and childhood vaccines. 

We’re also working to improve uptake of vaccines in primary care through GPs and immunisation nurses, in hospitals for medically at risk children, for at risk groups such as children with a developmental disability and in resource poor communities. I hope this work will help to inform effective vaccine policy in Australia to ensure high vaccine coverage for children. In addition to ensuring that vaccines work and are safe, we now need to ensure that children and mothers are actually getting them!

How many people are potentially impacted by your work?

Vaccination affects everybody – children, adolescents and adults. I am focused on improving vaccine uptake and confidence in both maternal and childhood vaccines. This is especially important as there are new vaccines in the pipeline and both providers and parents need to be kept abreast of the changes and reassured of their safety.

Many parents are now more fearful of the vaccines than the diseases, because the diseases are much less common. The complexities and cognitive biases in vaccine decision making make this area both challenging and exciting at the same time. 

What is the biggest achievement of your career?

I am very fortunate to have worked in the RV3-BB Rotavirus vaccine program for six years, working to develop a birth dose rotavirus vaccine for the global community. Over the last few years my research focus has shifted and we have conducted a number of preliminary studies that give us a greater understanding of the vaccine attitudes, behaviours and concerns of parents, as well barriers and enablers to vaccine uptake in different settings. These data will now inform the development, implementation and evaluation of innovative and sustainable interventions to improve vaccine uptake and confidence. 

What do you love about working at MCRI?

MCRI is a vibrant and stimulating environment where you are able to collaborate and work with many researchers from different disciplines. In my area, I have the opportunity to work with social scientists, political scientists, communications experts and psychologists, as well as other vaccinologists and infectious disease physicians. It is a fascinating area with intelligent, varied and creative people, which is why I love it. 

What makes you passionate about child health?

As a clinician I have cared for children who have suffered from devastating vaccine preventable diseases and I am passionate about doing research that can hopefully make a real and lasting impact on the lives of children and their families. I also work in some developing country settings where vaccines are needed most and I hope to help to find solutions to improve immunisation service delivery in some of these areas.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself

I was born in South Africa and moved to Australia when I was 10 years old. I am passionate about travel and to being open to new people and experiences. I also have a sister who chooses not to vaccinate, which makes dinner table conversations interesting and provides ongoing inspiration!

What do you like doing when you’re not working?

I love to spend time running and walking on the beach with my kids and our new puppy… and sleeping.