SKAI provides community members and healthcare professionals with the information and tools they need to have helpful conversations about vaccination.
SKAI is home to credible information about the vaccines recommended in Australia, and the diseases they can prevent. It aims to support conversations between community members and healthcare professionals. It makes evidence-based information easier to access, and provides respectful and helpful answers to common questions about vaccination.
The SKAI project began in 1999 when Professor Julie Leask started researching immunisation conversations. After many years of research, a team of people developed the original SKAI content and it was made available to community members and healthcare professionals on the first SKAI website, launched in 2019. This project involved the contributions of an interdisciplinary team of researchers and clinicians, with extensive input from parents, communicators, nurses, paediatricians, GPs, website designers, educators and immunisation program managers.
Following the launch of the SKAI website, Professor Margie Danchin developed a similar website with a focus on immunisation during pregnancy, and for babies at birth. The MumBubVax website was launched in 2019.
In 2022, the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care agreed to a proposal to combine the two websites. This was informed by an extensive evaluation of the existing content and formats, which collected insights from 667 community members, and more than 2,500 healthcare professionals. This website is the result of that work.
In the years ahead, we hope to expand SKAI to include other areas of vaccination. If you have any feedback on the website or any comments about how it could be expanded in the years ahead, please contact us at SCHN-NCIRS@health.nsw.gov.au
We acknowledge community members’ need for accurate information to inform the health decisions they make for themselves and their families. We also want to see community members and healthcare professionals have more satisfying conversations about vaccination. The SKAI website provides the community with information about immunisation they can trust, and answers some of the most common questions about vaccination.
We hope that SKAI will give healthcare professionals the confidence to invite community members to share their questions and concerns during vaccination consultations. The professional resources available on SKAI have been designed to help doctors, nurses, midwives and other healthcare professionals meet the needs of community members, whether they are ready for vaccination, intend to decline vaccination, or have some questions they need to be answered.
A team at NCIRS made up of social science, vaccination, clinical, education and communication experts, conducts regular updates of the SKAI package. A team at MCRI also contributes updates. The NCIRS SKAI team consults with the community and healthcare professionals to co-design content and explore ways to improve and update SKAI content. This ensures that SKAI is responsive to community and healthcare professional needs and preferences.
In 1999, I first began studying the impact of vaccination debates on parents and caregivers of children. Mums like Emily would talk about how they relied on their GPs or other health professionals when negotiating worrying information about vaccination they had heard elsewhere.
"I’ve got a fair amount of faith in my doctor and I tend to trust what she says and trust her opinion, so I think that I would believe what she would say before I’d believe anything I saw on TV." ‘Emily’, Sydney, 1999
Later, we interviewed GPs and immunisation nurses. How did they address concerns about vaccination when talking with parents and caregivers in everyday clinical encounters? What were the ideas behind their approaches? The professionals we spoke to shared stories about the challenges they had faced, and of strengths and insights wrought through experience.
Those conversations with parents, caregivers and professionals inspired the beginnings of SKAI. We set out to develop a package of communication strategies and information resources to support parents, caregivers and healthcare professionals to have better conversations about immunisation. One of the team, Professor Margie Danchin, then began to work on a similar resource around vaccinations for pregnancy and newborns.
Two core values have always underpinned our work: recognition of the benefits of vaccination, and the importance of respect for those making vaccination decisions.
We are supporters of vaccination. We also want to see the community and healthcare professionals have more satisfying conversations about vaccination.
Whether you are a member of the community or a healthcare professional, we hope the SKAI website provides you with the tools and resources you need to have great conversations about immunisation.
My name is Margie Danchin. I’m a paediatrician and mother of four. I’ve been talking with parents and caregivers about vaccination for more than 10 years.
I know that pregnancy is a unique and exciting time for both mums and dads and there is a lot of new information to take in. Over the years, I’ve learned that parents want and need open, non-judgmental conversations with their healthcare professionals to support them to make informed decisions about vaccination.
There is strong scientific evidence showing that maternal and childhood vaccines are safe and effective, but it can be daunting to make sense of all the information and choices, especially for first-time parents.
In 2019, we launched a website called 'MumBubVax' to provide expectant parents and healthcare professionals with the best available information about vaccines in pregnancy. We developed the materials in partnership with pregnant women, midwives and GPs. MumBubVax was archived in 2023, and the content from that website can now be found on the SKAI website.
We are strong advocates for vaccination, but we also understand that respectful communication between parents and healthcare professionals is crucial to informed vaccine decision-making. These resources are intended to support more efficient and effective conversations about the benefits and safety of vaccines for both mothers and their children.
We hope this website answers your questions about vaccination during pregnancy and early childhood and reassures you that vaccination is an important part of a safe, healthy start to life.