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Robert Booy, Mary-Louise McLaws & Sanjaya Senanayake

Epidemiologists and Immunisation Experts
Vaccine 2021 - Why, What, When and How…

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

National Press Club of Australia

As we near the start of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, three eminent epidemiologists and immunisation experts will join National Press Club Vice-President Misha Schubert to answer questions Australians have about the rigorous processes of vaccine development, approvals, immunisation programs and public health measures. If you have a question for our panel, email us at

Robert Booy is an Honorary Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Sydney and affiliated as a Senior Professorial Fellow at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) at Westmead Children’s Hospital.  From 2005 to 2019 he held the position of Head of Clinical Research at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS).

Robert trained in paediatrics during the 1980s at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Brisbane, and spent much of the 1990s doing epidemiological research on life threatening infectious diseases in the United Kingdom. This included 4 years in Oxford where he completed a doctorate on the epidemiology and prevention of Haemophilus influenzae type b disease.

In 1999 Robert was appointed Professor of Child Health, Head of Department, Royal London Hospital, Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London. He returned to Australia in early 2005.

Robert has conducted extensive research into serious infections and their prevention with over 300 scientific publications to his credit.

Robert is a long-time board member of the Immunisation Coalition and the Immediate Past Chairman of that organisation. He has consulted to both the WHO and Australia's Department of Health.

Mary-Louise McLaws is Professor of Epidemiologist, Hospital Infection and Infectious Diseases Control at the School of Population Health, UNSW Sydney. She is a member of the World Health Organization Health Emergencies ad hoc Infection Prevention and Control Preparedness, Readiness and Response to COVID-19 and the Focal Point for the World Health Organization Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network at SPH UNSW. Previously she was a short missions World Health Organization Advisor to China and Malaysia and a member of the WHO Clean Care is Safer Care Challenge advisory committee for the development and trialling of the program. She collaborated with Beijing to review the response to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak and with Hong Kong SARS designated hospital to review healthcare worker safety during the outbreak. She was commissioned by the Commonwealth to review the Pandemic Influenza Infection Control Guidelines for Healthcare Workers prior to pandemic influenza. She has collaborated with the NSW Clinical Excellence Commission on several state-wide projects to reduce infections and improve patient safety in hospitals and has enjoyed capacity building infection control with her PhD students in Cambodia, Mali, Indonesia, Iran, Viet Nam, Taiwan and Turkey.

Sanjaya Senanayake is an Infectious Disease Physician in Canberra and an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Australian National University (ANU) Medical School. He has an interest in epidemiology and infections of public health importance, and is a regular commentator in the media on a range of public health issues, including COVID-19. Dr Senanayake completed a Bachelor of Medical Science and Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery at the University of New South Wales, and a Master of Applied Epidemiology at the ANU. One of his books, "Clinical Cases in Infectious Diseases: A Public Health Approach" tried to unite the clinical and public health responses to various infectious diseases.

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