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

Project summary

Research area
Biomedical and clinical sciences, Health sciences

Project description

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, healthcare 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 and data linkage expertise and build a (near) real-time national surveillance system to routinely monitor their uptake, safety, effectiveness and equity. There are a number of projects available to achieve this aim.

Project objectives

  • Use the CDC framework for establishing surveillance systems to identify the key attributes required to establish a national maternal vaccination surveillance system.
  • Include spatial epidemiology and mapping capabilities, at a postcode level, to plot maternal vaccinations, overlayed with influenza, pertussis and COVID-19 infections in pregnancy and infancy. Initially using Queensland 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.


This is an Earmarked scholarship project that aligns with a recently awarded Australian Government grant.

The scholarship includes:

  • living stipend of $32,192 per annum tax free (2023 rate), indexed annually
  • your tuition fees covered
  • single overseas student health cover (OSHC).

Learn more about the Earmarked scholarship.


Preferred educational background

You'll be judged on a competitive basis taking into account your:

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

Working knowledge of ethics applications and project management would be beneficial.

You'll demonstrate academic achievement in epidemiology and different research methods and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of infectious diseases is highly desirable.

How to apply

This project requires candidates to commence no later than Research Quarter 1, 2026. To allow time for your application to be processed, we recommend applying no later than 30 September, 2025 30 June, 2025.

You can start in an earlier research quarter. See application dates.

Before you apply

  1. Check your eligibility for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).
  2. Prepare your documentation.
  3. Contact Dr Lisa McHugh ( to discuss your interest and suitability.

When you apply

You apply for this scholarship when you submit an application for a PhD. You don’t need to submit a separate scholarship application.

In your application ensure that under the ‘Scholarships and collaborative study’ section you select:

  • My higher degree is not collaborative
  • I am applying for, or have been awarded a scholarship or sponsorship
  • UQ Earmarked Scholarship type.

Apply now