COVID-19 technical assistance in the region: vaccine programs

NCIRS is working closely with the Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security of the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) on the Australian Expert Technical Assistance Program for Regional COVID-19 Vaccine Access: Policy, Planning and Implementation (AETAP-PPI). 

This partnership allows countries in South East Asia and the Indo-Pacific to access technical advice from Australian immunisation experts to support planning, implementation and monitoring of COVID-19 vaccine programs. 

NCIRS and ARIA members work with a range of partners in the Indo-Pacific to strengthen immunisation programs, providing independent expert advice on all aspects of vaccine preventable diseases, and other issues related to immunisation, to inform policy and planning for immunisation services. 

Working in partnership with government and regional bodies, NCIRS and ARIA members can provide in country or remote support, advice and training related to:

  • Capacity building for COVID-19 vaccine safety
  • Support immunisation service delivery and coordination
  • Evidence based policy and practice support
  • Support social and behavioural insights for COVID-19 vaccine uptake.

Continue reading to learn more about technical assistance below. 

  • Capacity Building for COVID-19 Vaccine Safety

    Remote training session provided for Timor-Leste clinicians by Australian experts, including haematologists, and experts on thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).  This training covered:

    • a general overview of vaccine pharmacovigilance epidemiology of TTS and AstraZeneca vaccine clinical diagnosis, investigation and management discussion of the draft protocol for managing suspected TTS patients in Timor-Leste.



  • Support immunisation service delivery and coordination
    • Revised ‘Immunisation Safety Surveillance Guidelines’ for the Ministry of Health, Vanuatu.
    • Developed an advisory document for the Ministry of Health, Vanuatu, on potential risk factors for the rare blood-clotting adverse event (TTS) after the AstraZeneca vaccine.
    • Reviewed national adverse event following immunisation (AEFI) guidelines for the Ministry of Health in the Solomon Islands.
    • Reviewed draft national Immunisation Strategy 2021-25 for Papua New Guinea
    • NCIRS public health physician deployed at the Ministry of Health, Timor-Leste, to provide in-country technical support. Technical advice is provided to support policy decision-making and key immunisation-related bodies, including the National Technical Working and Advisory Groups and National Coordination Committee. The advisor also helps with planning and implementing the national plans for vaccination against COVID-19. 
    • NCIRS senior technical officer deployed at the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Solomon Islands to support immunisation service delivery in the country. 
  • Support social and behavioural insights for COVID-19 vaccine uptake
    • Assisted to develop the National COVID-19 Communication Strategy for the Solomon Islands
    • Reviewed Papua New Guinea COVID-19 vaccine communication engagement strategy 
  • Evidence based policy and practice support
    • Developed a ‘Just in Time Training’ module on AEFI surveillance for the WHO Division of Pacific Technical Support. This four-hour customised training module can be delivered in person or remotely via video conference technology.
  • Acknowledgements

    We would like to acknowledge other Australian colleagues who provided their expertise to case reviews and discussions of Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI). 

    Associate Professor Vivien Chen
    Associate Professor Vivien Chen is a staff specialist haematologist at Concord Hospital, Head of Basic and Translational in Haematology with a research and clinical focus in coagulation disorders. Associate Professor Chen heads the Platelet and Thrombosis Research Laboratory at the ANZAC Research Institute. She is Chair the THANZ advisory group for vaccine associated thrombosis and thrombocytopenia. 

    Dr Geoffrey Herkes
    Dr Geoffrey Herkes is a Senior Staff Specialist in Neurology and Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Sydney. His major interests and active projects involve status epilepticus, prolonged neurophysiological monitoring in ICU, new pharmaceuticals, and multiple sclerosis. Dr Herkes has served on many major national and international committees and has chaired the Advisory Committee for Medicines since 2009.   He is currently Head of the Division of Medicine and Head of Research at the Sydney Adventist Hospital.  He is committed to teaching and regularly lectures at National and International meetings. 

    Dr Connie Katelaris
    Dr Katelaris is Professor, Immunology & Allergy, Western Sydney University, Head of Unit and Senior Staff Specialist at Campbelltown Hospital and has a busy private consultant practice consulting on all aspects of allergic and immunologic disorders in children and adults.
    She is a past president, Asian Pacific Association of Allergology, Asthma and Clinical Immunology and past president of the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. She has been involved with the TGA Vaccine Safety Investigation Group. 

    Professor Huyen Tran 
    Professor Huyen Tran is a clinical research haematologist who has a strong national & international reputation in the field of thrombosis and haemostasis. He is appointed currently as Head of Haemostasis Thrombosis Unit, & Director Haemophilia Treatment Centre, The Alfred Hospital. He has a strong interest in standardising best practice and has led several important published guidelines in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia Pacific. He is extremely active in the Thrombosis & Haemostasis Society of Australia and New Zealand (THANZ), where he is the current Chair of the Clinical Trials Group. He's a member of the THANZ Vaccine-Induced Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia Advisory group that formed soon after Australia started the COVID-19 vaccination program. 

    Professor Jim Buttery
    Professor Jim Buttery is a paediatric infectious diseases physician, vaccine safety methodology researcher and health informatician. He is the inaugural Professor of Child Health Informatics at the University of Melbourne, based at the Centre for Health Analytics, Melbourne’s Children’s campus, Australia. He is the Chief Clinical Research Information Officer and an infectious diseases Physician at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne. He is also the Head of Epidemiology and Signal Detection of SAEFVIC, the Victorian Immunisation Safety Service, and Group Head, Health informatics, at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. He previously served on the Strategic Priority Group of the WHO Global Vaccine Safety Initiative and contributed to the Global Vaccine Safety Blueprint 2.0. He is committed to improving vaccine safety by innovative and improved use of data locally and globally.

  • For further information

    Partner governments and regional bodies (such as WHO, UNICEF) can request technical assistance either through  DFAT Post, directly through NCIRS (where there is already an established relationship) or through the Centre for Health Security, DFAT. For more information, please contact the Global Health team at NCIRS.