Meet Associate Professor Nigel Crawford: The vaccine and immunisation expert for our times!
There has never been a more fascinating time to work as an immunisation and vaccine expert than during the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent COVID-19 vaccine rollout. It has just reached its anniversary on 22 February 2022.
Pictured: Associate Professor Nigel Crawford, Department of Paediatrics Honorary, Medical Head of RCH Immunisation service, Director of SAEFVIC, MCRI and Chair of ATAGI.
I did my PhD studies in 2011 at the University of Melbourne, Department of Paediatrics, as well as paediatric training at the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), where I am a consultant paediatrician in General Medicine and the Medical Head of our Immunisation service. I am also the Director of SAEFVIC, the Victorian Vaccine Safety Service, based at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Parkville.
Since 2014, I have also had the privilege of serving on the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and was appointed to the role of Chair in July 2021.
The pandemic shone a spotlight on ATAGI and its primary purpose, namely to provide evidence-based health advice to government on vaccines and immunisation science, to guide public health policy, procedures and clinical use of the vaccines.
This role allows me to advocate along with the team of experts and advisors for the timely consideration of vaccines (not just COVID-19 ones!) to be used in a safe and effective way to protect the population against vaccine-preventable diseases. It also allows me to work with others to continue to strengthen Australia’s national immunisation systems and to build on the platform developed by the Commonwealth in partnership with the states as part of the National Immunisation Program.
This is particularly important as immunisation science has become part of the vernacular of the wider community, who are actively seeking accurate, bite-sized and informative content related to immunisation topics.
I am also involved with organisations and platforms, such as the Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre (MVEC), that have come to the fore to address this need for both health professionals and members of the public. As part of the MVEC editorial board, I contribute to developing factual, up-to-date and digestible immunisation-related content. This has now reached an audience of over 1.1 million users from 222 countries over the past 18 months. Ongoing education on the role that vaccines play in controlling the pandemic has never been more important.