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New study launched to increase Q fever vaccine eligibility for more children in Australia

NCIRS, in conjunction with the University of Sydney, has launched a large-scale research study to assess the safety and effectiveness of Q fever vaccination in Australian children aged between 10 years and less than 15 years, with the aim of increasing vaccine eligibility and protecting more at-risk younger Australians in future.

Q fever is a highly infectious disease caused by the bacterium Coxiella burnetii , which infects domestic animals (e.g. cattle, goats and sheep) and wild animals (e.g. kangaroos) naturally – and can spread to humans through the inhalation of infected droplets or dust.

Q fever infection can cause a range of acute and chronic symptoms that can lead to significant long-lasting morbidity and even death.

In Australia, the Q fever vaccine Q-VAX®  is currently recommended for people aged 15 years and over who are at risk of infection with Coxiella burnetii  – including farmers, veterinarians, abattoir workers and animal breeders, as well as those who are living in the same residence.

Currently, however, children aged less than 15 years who may also be at risk of contracting Q fever – because they live on farms or near abattoirs or are children of ‘at-risk’ workers – cannot receive Q-VAX®.

Study lead Professor Nicholas Wood, Associate Director, Clinical Services and Vaccine Safety at NCIRS, said, ‘People of any age can contract and become very ill from Q fever disease.'

The main reason for the vaccine age restriction is not because of an identified safety risk but because the initial Q-VAX® clinical trials did not include children under 15 – and so there is a gap in our ability to protect younger adolescents.

‘Our study findings will address this data gap and can be used to inform future Q-VAX® recommendations in Australia, potentially increasing vaccine eligibility to provide protection to younger Australians at risk of Q fever infection.’

This larger study builds on a recently completed smaller-scale pilot that involved 20 participants aged 10 years to less than 15 years. That project, Professor Wood noted, found ‘the younger cohort responded well to the vaccine and experienced a similar side effect profile to adults'.

The researchers will aim to administer Q-VAX® to 1,000 children in the relevant age cohort across New South Wales and Queensland, as well as a control group of 100 adolescents and adults aged from 15 years to less than 30 years.

Participants will be followed up actively over a 12-month period post-vaccination so that data on the immune response and safety profile of Q-VAX® can be collected. Findings will be published at the conclusion of the study.

For more information or to participate in the study, contact Principal Investigator Professor Nick Wood at 
SCHN-QFever@health.nsw.gov.au.

 

View the study flyer

View the study webpage