Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory’s Epidemiology Unit

Project Details

In collaboration with the Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services, the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory’s Epidemiology Unit undertakes weekly analysis and reporting of several data sources to characterise the onset, duration and magnitude of seasonal influenza in Victoria. The unit operates the Victorian Sentinel Practice Influenza Network (VicSPIN) comprising about 85 GPs who submit weekly reports from May to October about the proportion of their patients with influenza-like illness and samples for testing. Data collected from VicSPIN are also used to calculate the effectiveness of each season’s influenza vaccine. In partnership with The University of Melbourne, a new database was developed and deployed in 2017 to streamline data collection and analysis.


  • Prof Jodie McVernon, Director, Epidemiology
  • Dr James Fielding, Epidemiologist
  • Kylie Carville, Epidemiologist
  • Violeta Spirkoska, Project Coordinator


  • Viral Identification Laboratory, Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory
  • WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza
  • Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services
  • Australian Sentinel Practices Research Network (ASPREN)
  • Australian Government Department of Health


Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services

Research Outcomes

  1. Weekly surveillance reports
  2. Descriptive epidemiological studies
  3. Observational vaccine effectiveness studies

Research Publications

Price OH, Carville KS, Sullivan SG. Right sizing for vaccine effectiveness studies: how many is enough for reliable estimation? Communicable Diseases Intelligence 2019; 43: doi: 10.33321/cdi.2019.43.20.

Regan AK, Fielding JE, Chilver MB, Carville KS, Minney-Smith CA, Grant KA, Thomson C, Hahesy T, Deng YM, Stocks N, Sullivan SG. Intraseason decline in influenza vaccine effectiveness during the 2016 southern hemisphere influenza season: A test-negative design study and phylogenetic assessment. Vaccine 2019; 37(19): 2634-2641.

Grant KA, Carville KS, Sullivan SG, Strachan J, Druce J, Fielding JE. A severe 2017 influenza season dominated by influenza A(H3N2), Victoria, Australia. Western Pacific Surveillance and Response Journal 2018; 9(Suppl 1): 1-9.

Sullivan SG, Chilver MBN, Carville KS, Deng Y, Grant KA, Higgins G, Komadina N, Leung VKY, Minney-Smith C, Teng D, Tran T, Stocks N, Fielding JE. Low interim influenza vaccine effectiveness, Australia, 1 May to 24 September 2017. Eurosurveillance 2017; 22: pii=17-00707.

Cowie GA, Cowie BC, Fielding JE. Influenza testing trends in sentinel surveillance general practices in Victoria, 2007 to 2014. Communicable Diseases Intelligence 2017; 41: E4–E9.

Fielding JE. Influenza vaccine effectiveness using the test-negative design: comparability and methodological challenges in meta-analyses. Lancet Respiratory Medicine 2017; 5: 161-162.

Fielding JE, Levy A, Chilver MB-N, Deng Y, Regan AK, Grant KA, Stocks NP, Sullivan SG. Effectiveness of seasonal influenza vaccine in Australia, 2015: an epidemiological, antigenic and phylogenetic assessment. Vaccine 2016; 34: 4905–4912.

Fielding JE. Methodological evolution of influenza vaccine effectiveness assessment. Lancet Infectious Diseases 2016; 16: 874-875.

Sullivan SG, Carville KS, Chilver MB-N, Fielding JE, Grant KA, Kelly HA, Levy A, Stocks NP, Tempone SS, Regan AK. Pooled influenza vaccine effectiveness estimates for Australia, 2012-2014. Epidemiology and Infection 2016; 144: 2317-2328.

Fielding JE, Regan AK, Dalton CB, Chilver MB, Sullivan SG. How severe was the 2015 influenza season in the Australian community? Medical Journal of Australia 2016; 204: 60-61.

Research Group

Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity

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