Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

POPLHLTH 763 - Human Vaccinology

15 Points

Offered alternate years - next offered 2019

Semester 1


Provides an examination of vaccinology as applied to humans and its application in the health sector. Includes consideration of immunology, vaccine form and function and vaccine design through to vaccine development and manufacture, vaccine safety, immunisation controversies, policy and schedule. A core theme throughout the course will be communication of vaccine science including risk communication to different audiences including health professionals and the community.


Restriction: POPLPRAC 755

Course aims

Goals of the course

The general objective of this course is to better equip health professionals and scientists to make decisions and communicate issues around immunisation.

Participants will be:

  • Secure and confident in their knowledge about vaccines and vaccination
  • Able to provide information and communicate the science of vaccines to other professionals and patients
  • Able to engage in planning and strategic thinking in relation to vaccines and vaccination practice.

Learning outcomes 

After completing this course, students should:

  • Have a good knowledge of current and potential vaccine preventable diseases including causative organisms, etiology, epidemiology, herd immunity and implications and indications for vaccination
  • Have a basic understanding of the immune system and immunology as it applies to vaccines and vaccination
  • Understand the processes of vaccine development and manufacture
  • Have a good basic understanding of the structure and function of vaccines
  • Be able to understand and practice evidence based medicine as it applies to immunisation
  • Appreciate and understand how vaccine safety is established and monitored
  • Be able to practice science communication including risk communication
  • Understand national policy and schedule and the rationale behind it

Programme and course advice

Optional course for students in general practice and primary health pathways in health sciences and medical science as well as public health programmes.

Content Outline

The course is divided into 8 modules as follows:

Vaccine Preventable Diseases

a) Epidemiology

b) Aetiology

c) Prevention methods

d) Implications for vaccination and case studies


a) Immune system and its responses

b) Serological responses

c) Immune memory

d) Active vs passive immunity

e) Infant immunity

f) Vaccine immunology

Vaccine Development and Manufacture

a) Key antigens – preclinical trials, clinical trials, RCTs

b) Manufacturing processes

c) Specifications of vaccines and their shelf life

Evidence Based Medicine and Vaccinology

a) Study designs, strengths and weaknesses

b) Case examples, safety issues

Structure and function of vaccines

a) Types of vaccines, vaccine contents

b) How they function

c) Leading edge issues including therapeutic

d) Vaccine delivery methods

Vaccine Safety

a) Safety monitoring mechanisms

b) Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI)


a) Communicating with different audiences

b) Effective communication about vaccine benefits and risks

c) Risk communication

Policy and Schedule

a) History and rational

b) Herd (community) immunity

c) Pharmacoeconomic evaluations

d) Strategies associated with improved coverage

Learning and teaching

The course occupies four full days over a semester at Tāmaki Campus School of Population Health. The approach combines lectures, case studies, and active participation.

Teaching staff 

Dr Helen Petousis-Harris (Course Coordinator), A/Prof Nikki Turner, Dr Stewart Reid, Dr Emma Best, Associate Professor Richard Milne, Dr Daniel Exeter, along with other guest lecturers from ADHB and School of Medical and Health Sciences.

Campus teaching dates 

This course is held at Tāmaki Campus and the lecture dates will be available on the School of Population Health website.  

Please see your timetable on SSO or Building 730 Reception noticeboard on the day for the room details.

Learning resources 

No textbook is prescribed for this course however access to the following is recommended:

Plotkin, Orenstein and Offit. Vaccines. 6th Edition.

American Academy of Paediatrics. The Red Book.

American Public Health Association. Control of Communicable Diseases.

Students are provided with the New Zealand Immunisation Handbook 2014 and a course book including list of recommended readings. Messages to students and handouts are distributed through the student management programme, Canvas.


100% coursework consisting of three written assignments:

1 essay (1500 - 2000 words) 20%

1 essay (3000 - 3500 words) 40%

1 essay (3000 - 3500 words) 40%

Course Coordinator

Course Administrator

Email: pgpophealth@auckland.ac.nz

Phone: +64 (0) 9 9232760