Project to explore impact of COVID vaccine mandates

A large-scale, interdisciplinary research program led by The University of Western Australia will explore the impact of government COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

MandEval or Mandate Evaluation, which aims to improve the health system by evaluating the use and removal of vaccine mandates, has been boosted by $4.7 million from the Medical Research Future Fund.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how important it is not just to develop vaccines, but to understand how to translate vaccine availability to health policy improvements.”

Associate Professor Katie Attwell

Lead researcher Associate Professor Katie Attwell, from UWA’s School of Social Sciences’ VaxPolLab, said the project would gather and use data on COVID vaccine mandates and collaborate with decision makers to guide policy for future COVID waves and vaccines, future pandemic preparedness and routine adult and childhood immunisation programs.

Associate Professor Attwell said the collaborative project would be the first of its kind to apply multiple methodologies to track the impacts and experiences of vaccine mandates anywhere, for any vaccine.

COVID checking in

“I am very excited about collaborating with the amazing team on this grant, who work across the country and the world on aspects of vaccination social science,” Associate Professor Attwell said.

“We are collectively looking forward to recruiting and hiring the next generation of researchers to work with us on the various sub-projects as we analyse the introduction and impact of COVID-19 vaccine mandates.”

Key aspects of project include: determining which mandates work and why; identifying issues surrounding compliance; explore how policymakers should communicate about mandate addition and removal; understand the social, financial, and career impacts of mandates; and advise on the legal and ethical disputes mandates generate.

UWA Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Anna Nowak said the project would help inform State, national and global vaccination strategies.

“The researchers involved in this project have expertise in a number of relevant areas including policy, communication studies, epidemiology, economics, medicine, law, sociology, psychology and ethics,” Professor Nowak said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how important it is not just to develop vaccines, but to understand how to translate vaccine availability to health policy improvements.”

UWA’s partners on the project are Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases, based at Telethon Kids Institute, The University of Newcastle, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, University of Wollongong, Immunisation Foundation of Australia, Department of Health WA, Department of Health VIC, NSW Health, market research company Pureprofile, Department of Health SA and Tasmanian Health Service. The Forrest Foundation will also support project researchers visiting UWA.

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