Vaccine Safety Health Link (VSHL)

Near real-time automated vaccine safety signal detection using routinely collected healthcare data


The Problem

In Australia, Post-licensure Vaccine Safety Monitoring (PVSM) relies on service providers and consumers to report adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) to their jurisdictional safety service. These methods are prone to underreporting and reporting bias. Reliance on these methods alone may delay the detection of potential safety signals or miss them entirely, resulting in the continued use of potentially unsafe vaccines.


What we’re doing

VSHL links routinely collected healthcare datasets to interrogate new AEFI in near real-time, as well as performing regular rapid cycle analyses on identified adverse events of special interest (AESI) in NSW and VIC. Data is being linked from the Australian Immunization Register, hospital (VAED, VEMD, Sydney LHD), notifiable disease (PHESS, TREVI), primary care (POLAR, Patron), Births Deaths Marriages, and Perinatal Data Collection datasets

VSHL will provide outputs for analysis by vaccine brand, batch number, provider type and across populations (seen in design schema below).


VSHL will be the only data linkage system in Australia linking vaccinations with both primary care and hospital outcomes.

The linkage of routinely collected healthcare records will create a large and rich dataset that will enable epidemiologists to analyse a broad spectrum of rare, emergent, and serious adverse events which may otherwise go unrecognized by the current surveillance methods and to refute spurious concerns. This will encourage community and provider confidence in vaccinations with the knowledge that vaccine safety is being closely scrutinised and swift policy change can be enacted when safety signals do occur.


Design schema and partners


Professor Jim Buttery

Head of Infection and Immunity & Director of Research, MCRI

Ms Hannah Morgan

Epidemiologist, MCRI


Dr Aishwarya Shetty

Research Assistant, MCRI