Influenza and other respiratory viruses

Research Overview

Studies of influenza vaccine effectiveness

The team work with sentinel surveillance networks in Australia and globally to estimate and summarise influenza vaccine effectiveness. The team have conducted various studies to assess the validity of the methods used to estimate effectiveness, employing re-analysis of existing data, simulation studies and systematic review to understand the circumstances under which vaccine effectiveness estimates are robust.

Serological studies

Together with Annette Fox's group, the team work on a number of studies to better understand the immune correlates of protection against influenza vaccination and infection. Recently this work has extended to understand correlates of protection against COVID-19. Our influenza work mainly focusses on understanding the immunological consequences of vaccination, especially repeated influenza vaccination, and infection using a number of different cohorts. Using these data we are working on better methods for the assessment of the protection afforded by vaccines in terms of breadth and strength of response.

Mitigating the impacts of influenza and SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks in aged care

The team are engaged in studies to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of rapid point-of-care testing in residential aged care as a means to expedite infection prevention and control responses and mitigate the consequences of outbreaks.

Burden of influenza and other respiratory viruses

The team work with national and international partners to estimate the disease burden of influenza and other respiratory viruses, broadly and in specific population groups, such as pregnant women. This work has extended to assessing the dramatic drops in healthcare utilization associated with pandemic mitigation strategies in Victoria.



  • 1R01AI141534-01A1(Sullivan, Fox, Kucharski) Role: co-PI
    National Institutes of Health 2019-2024
    Does repeated influenza vaccination constrain influenza immune responses and protection?
    COVID Administrative supplement: 2019-2021
  • (BAA) 75D301-19-R-67835  (Sullivan) Role: PI
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2019-2020
    Understanding heterogeneity in influenza vaccine responses and the effects of prior exposures through infection and vaccination
  • GIA-025-2019-1(Sullivan) Role: PI
    Royal Melbourne Hospital 2019-2021
    Feasibility and effectiveness of rapid point of care testing to reduce for improving outcomes for residents in aged care
    (Sullivan)Role: Co-Investigator (sub-project lead)
    APPRISE Sub-award (NHMRC) 2020
    Sub-project: COVID-19 impacts on residents of aged-care homes (supplement to above award)
  • (Smith)07/01/18-06/30/19
    APPRISE Sub-award (NHMRC) Role: Co-Investigator
    Sampling, shipping and serology: a proof of concept study of influenza immunity
  • (Smith)07/01/18-06/30/19
    APPRISE Sub-award (NHMRC) Role: Co-Investigator
    Influenza sero-surveillance at the animal-human interface: a feasibility study in high-risk groups
  • (Arah)1 Mar 2019-31 Dec 2020
    OptumLabs Role: Co-investigator
    Optimizing immunization policies for pregnant women (research credits)
    This study aims to assess the risks and benefits of influenza vaccination during each trimester of pregnancy using administrative data maintained by OptumLabs. We have received additional research credits from OptumLabs to extend our study to include outcomes from SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnant women.

Research Publications

  1. Sullivan SG. The need for robust epidemiological evidence during a pandemic. Clin Infect Dis 2020 (in press)
  2. Hoa LNM*, Sullivan SG*, Mai LQ, et al. Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 But Not A(H3N2) Virus Infection Induces Durable Seroprotection: Results From the Ha Nam Cohort, J Infect Dis, 2020 jiaa293, (*joint first author).
  3. Seaman CP, Tran LTT, Cowling BJ, Sullivan SG. Self-collected compared with professional-collected swabbing in the diagnosis of influenza in symptomatic individuals: A meta-analysis and assessment of validity. J Clin Virology. 2019.118:28-35. https://doi.10.1016/j.jcv.2019.07.010.
  4. Sullivan SG, Arriola CS, Bocacao J, et al. Heterogeneity in influenza seasonality and vaccine effectiveness in Australia, Chile, New Zealand and South Africa: early estimates of the 2019 influenza season. Eurosurveillance. 2019;24(45):pii=1900645.
  5. Li L, Wong JY, Wu P, Bond HS, Lau EHY, Sullivan SG†, Cowling BJ†. Heterogeneity in estimates of the impact of influenza on population mortality: a systematic review. Am J Epidemiol 2018;187(2):378-88. https://doi.10.1093/aje/kwx270.

Research Projects

For project inquiries, contact our research group head.

Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology

School Research Themes


Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact Research Group Leader Associate Professor Sheena Sullivan

Department / Centre

Infectious Diseases

Unit / Centre

Influenza and other respiratory viruses

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