Vaccine Evaluation Centre
The Vaccine Evaluation Centre (VEC) was originally established in 1989 at BC Children’s Hospital. Now, the Unit is expanding and evolving to better meet provincial and national needs for applied vaccinology research, with emphasis on expanded local and national collaboration and leadership, greater use of advanced technology, active translation of new products into optimal immunization practice, and excellent training in vaccinology. The VEC is focusing on several areas of development:
- Expanded vaccine immunology focus – the Unit is increasing expertise and technology to study and measure the body’s immune response related to vaccination.
- Leadership in influenza vaccine studies – the VEC is working to become the leading Canadian Centre for influenza vaccine studies, with the capacity to study all ages, from infants to elders. The Unit will also focus on evaluating response enhancers (adjuvants) designed to increase vaccine effectiveness.
- Vaccine adverse event investigation and prevention – the VEC will provide national leadership in investigating severe adverse events following immunization, with the ultimate goals of understanding the mechanisms involved so they can be avoided.
- Translational initiatives – the VEC will seek to participate in or lead studies related to the licensing of new vaccines and their subsequent uptake by the provinces, and ongoing safety surveillance.
- Translational immunology initiatives – the VEC will seek practical applications for insights pertaining to innate immunity and the role that its components play in enhancing acquired immune responses to pathogens and vaccines.
Recent technological advances are making many new vaccines available for diseases across the full age spectrum, including rotavirus diarrhea in infants, cancer-causing human papillomaviruses in women, shingles in seniors and avian influenza (bird flu) in all age groups. In spite of this rapid pace of innovation, however, the introduction of new products into public immunization programs is slow. Bottlenecks in the development “pipeline” result from a shortage of vaccine evaluation programs and researcher networks to inform timely, evidence-based program decision making. The field of applied vaccinology is also evolving, with increased funding opportunities for vaccine studies and stiffer global competition. The high cost of new vaccines is prompting provinces to insist on scientific evidence to help them develop appropriate, cost-effective public programs. Not only do consumers have expectations for new vaccines to be developed quickly to respond to emerging threats, they are also scrutinizing the safety of existing vaccines.
Recent technological advances are making many new vaccines available for diseases across the full age spectrum. However, the introduction of new products into public immunization programs is delayed due to a lack of vaccine evaluation programs and researcher networks to inform timely, evidence-based program decision making. This Unit will evaluate new vaccines and conduct studies to aid their integration into public immunization programs, with a special interest in influenza vaccine studies, pandemic preparedness and the study and prevention of severe vaccine reactions.