News & Events

PORCCH Research 101 Online Module

PORCCH is an interactive online “Patient-Oriented Research Curriculum in Child Health” for children, families, trainees, clinicians, scientists, educators, and administrators. These online modules will include interactive tools, video vignettes, evaluation exercises, certificates of completion and research readiness for patients and families. The overarching goal of PORCCH is to enhance skills and build capacity in patient-oriented research in child health.

This October and November of 2018, we are beta testing our Research 101 online module and require patient and family volunteers. The module is targeted to patients and families who are already engaged in research or want to become engaged in research. It reviews the basic principles of what research is, what patient oriented research is, the different types of research, the key players of research and the life cycle/timeline of a research study.

Participation would involve an interview (via phone, skype or in person at SickKids) to go through the module with a member of our research education team, click by click. The interview will likely take up to 2 hours, while the patient/family member provides in-depth feedback. In addition, we have budgeted $30 gift certificates per participant for Indigo, Tim Hortons or Starbucks.

For more information please visit:

Meningococcal Vaccine Study

–Recruitment closed–

Participants needed: Healthy teenage boys and girls who are going into Grade 9

Why are we doing this study: Meningococcal disease is caused by Neisseria meningitidis and can result in severe disease such as septicemia (blood poisoning) and meningitis. There are currently 3 different vaccines being offered to teenagers across Canada and researchers at the Vaccine Evaluation Center would like to find out if there are any differences between these 3 vaccines, and if any of them are better than the others.

The study involves: There will be 3 visits to the study clinic over the course of one year. These visits will include a physical exam, vaccinations, blood tests, and questions about the participant’s health. Total time commitment is 3-4 hours. Participants will be randomly assigned into 1 of 3 Study groups, and will receive both the MenACWY and Tdap vaccines. These vaccines are part of the routine immunization schedule offered already in our public & private schools by public health for Grade 9 students in B.C.

You will receive: Eligible participants will be reimbursed for travel/ parking and receive a gift card at each visit.

See if you are eligible: Click here and fill out a short 3 minute survey


Midwives’ Immunization Practices Survey

Researchers at the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Vaccine Evaluation Center and the BC Center for Disease Control want to better understand how BC midwives understand their role as vaccination providers for their pregnant and post-partum clients.

The 20 minute online survey asks about what midwives do in their practice in regards to discussing, recommending, and administering vaccinations to pregnant and postpartum clients.

Results of this research will be used for public health decision making and will be presented at the BC College of Midwives, the BC Immunization

Committee, and might be published in professional journals


Email us at

The study is being sponsored by the BC Immunization Committee.

Unpacking Vaccine Hesitancy Among Perinatal Healthcare Providers

Pregnant women and new parents consistently report that they trust their maternity care providers and wish their health care providers had given them advice on immunization. However, perinatal health care providers may not recommend vaccines due to lack of confidence or other barriers.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Vaccine Evaluation Center and with the Canadian Immunization Research Network are working to better understand what would help perinatal healthcare providers confidently recommend routine immunizations in pregnancy and for infants.

The first phase of this study is currently underway. Selected perinatal healthcare providers in 6 provinces are being invited to participate in telephone interviews about their education and clinical practice.


Email us at

This study is being sponsored by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian Immunization Research Network.


Pneumococcal Vaccine Schedule Study

–Recruitment closed–

Participants needed: Babies at 2 months of age who were born healthy and at term (at least 37 weeks’ gestation).

Why are we doing this study: Pneumococcal disease is caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae (SP). Although the vaccine is given as 3 shots at 2, 4, and 12 months of age, researchers would like to find out if it is possible to achieve the same protection using just 2 shots at 2 and 12 months.

The study involves: 6 visits over 11 months. Visits to the study clinic will include a blood test at each visit, optional stool and rectal samples, all vaccinations from 2 to 12 months of age, one throat swab and questions about your baby’s health.

You will receive: Eligible participants will be reimbursed for travel/ parking and receive an honorarium at each visit.


Comparative Hepatitis B Vaccine study

–Recruitment closed–

Participants needed: Males and females age 18 years and older in good general health who have never received the Hepatitis B vaccine

Why are we doing this study: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a virus that attacks the liver and can lead to cancer. The currently approved HBV vaccines work really well, but scientists believe a newer vaccine may work even better and provide protection sooner (and with fewer doses).

The study involves: 10 visits over 12 months Visits are at the VEC located at BC Children’s Hospital and Women’s Health Center in Vancouver. Participants will receive 3 doses of the Hepatitis B vaccine, get blood tests at each visit, and be asked questions about your health. Females will need to be on birth control while on the study.

You will receive: Eligible participants will be reimbursed for travel/parking and receive an honorarium at each visit (between $25-$50 depending on the visit length).


Dr. Manish Sadarangani named Sauder Chair in Pediatric Infectious Diseases

Congratulations to the VEC Director Dr. Manish Sadarangani on his recent appointment as the Sauder Chair in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of British Columbia. Funded by a donation from the Sauder Family, the Chair supports research to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of childhood infectious diseases.

When it comes to saving the lives of kids with serious infections, Dr. Sadarangani believes “the best option is prevention.”

 This new Chair will enable Dr. Sadarangani to further laboratory, clinical and population-based studies aimed at:

  • Understanding the immune response to vaccines
  • Developing new vaccines
  • Evaluating vaccine programs at the population level
  • Examining the incidence, causes and effects of serious childhood infections

To read more, click here.

Long Term Memory to HPV vaccine study


Participants needed: Women who have received either 2 or 3 doses of the HPV vaccine 8 to 10 years ago.

Why are we doing this study: Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that can cause genital warts and can lead to cervical cancer. HPV is often described as the most common sexually transmitted infection. Vaccination with the HPV vaccine Gardasil® is known to be very good at  preventing HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18. More research into the long term protection and immune memory years after vaccination with HPV vaccine is needed to make sure the females we vaccinate as girls are still protected as adults.

Although memory response or ‘protection’ can be measured soon after you get the HPV shot, the best way to measure long lasting protection is to give another dose, or a ‘booster’ of the vaccine years after the original shots. This is like a reminder to see how well your immune system remembers the HPV shot. We are therefore studying the immune system’s response to the HPV vaccine, 8 to 10 years after first dose. (more…)

Celebrating Immunization: National Immunization Awareness Week 2017


April 22nd - 29th, 2017
The VEC is celebrating National Immunization Awareness Week, an annual event to recognize the importance of immunization, by sharing a selection of our research highlights and news. You can read each story by clicking the links below

Human Vaccines Project to accelerate the development of vaccines

BC Children’s Hospital opening Canada’s first onsite immunization clinic in 2017

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) vaccine

Understanding why some parents are hesitant about vaccines

Early life immune system

Read our annual VEC newsletter here (and subscribe to the newsletter here!)

Human Vaccines Project: Help us better understand how the immune system responds to Hepatitis B vaccine!

Why we are doing the study:
Our overall goal is to understand why some people respond better to vaccines than others, a step towards making better vaccines to prevent against infections. With this study, we are looking into how the immune system responds to Hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccine. This vaccine is widely used to prevent liver infection, a risk at all ages. (more…)

BC Children’s Hospital to open Canada’s first onsite immunization clinic

“In 1995, Dr. David Scheifele wrote a paper proposing that facilities such as B.C. Children’s Hospital should have on-site clinics where sick kids could catch up on their vaccinations. It took 21 years, but that vision is finally becoming a reality.” – The Vancouver Sun, click for article

In the Fall of 2017, BC Children’s Hospital will open the doors to Canada’s first onsite immunization clinic. The clinic will provide immunizations at no cost to children, youth and their family members visiting BC Children’s.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to protect some of the most vulnerable children in our society who come through the doors of BC Children’s Hospital every day. Offering immunizations to all family members is a simple and highly effective way to extend the impact of the clinic.” – Dr. Manish Sadarangani

For four years, the VEC has been a part of the BC Children’s on-site family flu immunization clinic offering free flu immunizations to families visiting the hospital during the months of November and December. The flu clinic has set the foundation for an onsite immunization clinic, making immunizations as accessible as possible for families and in reaching across age barriers to maximize protection of vulnerable children.

The new immunization clinic has been made possible by a generous $15 million donation from Save-On Foods.

To read the full story, click here.

Safety surveillance of the influenza vaccines

An annual flu vaccine safety survey is completed by over 20,000 people across Canada who receive their flu vaccine. The purpose of the online survey is to monitor adverse events (side-effects) after the flu shot and allows us to monitor the safety of the flu vaccine used in Canada each year.

Dr. Julie Bettinger presents findings from the safety survey at the Canadian Immunization Conference 2016. Of 200 abstracts, this study was chosen as one of the Top 10 Scientific Abstracts of 2016.

In 2015, nearly 15,000 adults responded to the online survey, most did not report any health events after the flu shot. 95% of the unvaccinated control group did not report a health events compared to nearly 97% of the vaccinated group. Overall, no safety concerns were detected for the 2015 flu vaccines.

For more information and to read the abstract, click here

This project is being conducted by Canadian National Vaccine Safety (CANVAS) network. 2016 marks the 6th year of the Vaccine Safety Survey.

Co-authors: Louis Valiquette, Brenda Coleman, Karina Top, Otto Vanderkooi, Anne McCarthy, James Kellner, Jennifer Isenor, Gaston De Serres


What causes changes in mothers’ vaccine hesitancy over time?

Photo credit: US National Cancer Institute, Photographer Rhoda Baer.

In a study at the VEC, it was found that mothers who were initially hesitant about vaccines described feeling fear, anxiety, and confusion when deciding about infant immunization. One described literally having nightmares about the decision whether to vaccinate her baby.

Dr. Devon Greyson presents these findings at the Canadian Immunization Conference 2016. Of 200 abstracts, this study was chosen as one of the Top 10 Scientific Abstracts of 2016.

The 23 participants of the study included parents with school aged-children whose thoughts and feelings about vaccinations had changed since first becoming a parent. Some may have become less worried about vaccines and some, more worried.

So, what reduces vaccine hesitancy over time?

    • Extra attention and information sharing with hesitant mothers (whether or not they vaccinate)
    • Positive immunization experiences
    • Adequate attention and time to address concerns after an AEFI or chronic health condition
    • Acknowledgement that while HCPs are trusted sources, some mothers will want to verify information (consistent, verifiable vaccine safety and effectiveness information)

For more information and to read the abstract, click here
Co-authors: Dr. Julie Bettinger, Dr. Gina Ogilvie, Dr. Simon Dobson

Had your flu shot this year? We want to hear about it.

If you have received your flu vaccine and are interested in participating in our simple survey, CLICK HERE TO PARTICIPATE.


October 5th: Influence of the intestinal multibiome on infection and immunity

Wednesday, Oct 5th, 2016
CFRI Room 3113 | 12:00 – 1:00 pm

Presenter: Lisa Osborne, Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology
“Influence of the intestinal multibiome on infection and immunity”

Cytomegalovirus Vaccine (CMV) Study

–Recruitment closed–
Researchers are looking at the safety and the effectiveness of the cytomegalovirus vaccine in healthy adults.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common virus that can infect anyone. Once you’re infected with CMV, the virus remains with you for life. (more…)

Have You Been Asked to Participate in a Clinical Trial?

Researchers in Canada are trying to learn more about people’s experiences involving clinical trials.


New Features Coming to ImmunizeCA App


June 8th: Non-specific effects of vaccines: BCG protects from septic death

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016
CFRI Room 3113 | 12:00 – 1:00 pm

Presenter: Byron Brook, PhD Student
“Non-specific effects of vaccines: BCG protects from septic death”


Celebrating National Immunization Awareness Week


Pregnant Mothers’ Thoughts About Baby Shots

ImmunizationPics 006This study explores how pregnant mothers in Victoria, B.C. make decisions about vaccines for their children. We aim to speak with 30 pregnant women at two distinct points in time: one, when they are in their third trimester of pregnancy, and two, when their infants are 3-4 months old.

Mapping Vaccine hesitancy in Canada


We are interested in learning more about the doubts or concerns some parents with children 5 years old or younger have about recommended childhood vaccinations.

Vaccinating Children after ALL Treatment



Participants needed: Children in British Columbia who have completed treatment for ALL

Why are we doing this study: Children are being invited to take part in a study to determine how well children who have completed treatment for  Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) respond to vaccines against childhood illnesses. Children who have been treated for ALL usually lose their immunity to childhood illnesses and require re-vaccination. (more…)

VEC Investigator, Dr. Julie Bettinger, to answer vaccination questions at Science World event


Why are there dangerous ingredients in vaccines? MinuteEarth explains!


Vaccinology Research Symposium


Congratulations to Dr. Gina Ogilvie for successfully securing over two million in funding from CIHR


QUEST HPV Study: Over 2,800 enrolled to QUEST study


International workshop looks at gaps in maternal immunization


Celebrating Excellence: Dr. David Scheifele


Congratulations to Arlene Kallos, Recipient of the Applegarth Staff Service Award!

Arlene05102015 (7) (more…)

iBoost Immunity: A new health advocacy initiative


National Immunization Awareness Week (#NIAW2015)

April 25th – May 2nd

Did you know, immunizations have saved more lives in Canada than any other health intervention in the last 50 years?  National Immunization Awareness Week (NIAW)  is celebrated in conjunction with World Immunization Week hosted by the World Health Organization.This one-week-long initiative is geared to strengthen immunization through public awareness.

Check out our NIAW 2015 Newsletter to find out if your vaccines are up to date!


NIAW slideshow


Family Flu Vaccine Clinic at BC Children’s & Women’s Hospital

The VEC is proud to announce that during the Family Flu Vaccine Clinic (open Oct 27th-Dec 19th) we vaccinated nearly 2,000 visitors and patients to BC Children’s & Women’s Hospital!

We were happy to provide a convenient location for patients and visitors to be immunized against the flu. Thank you for your support!

**Clinic is now closed for the season**
If you haven’t received your flu vaccine yet, click here for the Flu Clinic Locator

Family Flu Vaccine Clinic open: Oct 27th – Dec 19th 2014

Location: Ambulatory Care Centre (the building with the Starbucks, basement level).
Hours: 10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday

The Family Flu Vaccine Clinic is offering free flu vaccine to patients, family members, and visitors to BC Children’s & Women’s Hospital (C&W). No appointment necessary! Signs will be posted in the main lobby giving detailed directions of our clinic location.

Flu vaccine and nasal spray flu vaccine (Flumist® – for eligible patients) is available at the Clinic which is located within the hospital. An on-site nurse vaccinator will advise about who needs flu protection and which vaccine is best suited for each person. The Vaccine Evaluation Center is organizing the Clinic in collaboration with C&W and the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA).

Why are we providing a free flu vaccine clinic at the hospital?
Children experience the highest rates of seasonal influenza (15%-25%) of any age group and are at highest risk of complications of influenza (especially those patients with chronic medical conditions). Since many “high risk” children pass through the ambulatory clinics of BC Children’s each day, this provides them a convenient opportunity to receive influenza vaccine. Providing influenza vaccination to family members and visitors to patients in the hospital as well maximizes protection of “high risk” children.

Want more facts on the flu and the flu vaccine? Check out this video or the Story of Influenza.

The flu vaccine is also important in pregnancy to protect mom, fetus, and newborn against the flu. Watch the video below for more information.

Vaccine – Calling the Shots (PBS Video)

Diseases that were largely eradicated in the United States a generation ago—whooping cough, measles, mumps—are returning, in part because nervous parents are skipping their children’s shots. NOVA (the highest rated science series on television and the most watched documentary series on public television) has posted a video on PBS called “Vaccines—Calling the Shots” which takes viewers around the world to track epidemics, explore the science behind vaccinations, hear from parents wrestling with vaccine-related questions, and shed light on the risks of opting out.

Video Details: The program examines the science behind vaccinations, the return of preventable diseases, and the risks of opting out.





Program Description

Congratulations to Dr. Simon Dobson for receiving a PHSA+ Award

new imageThe PHSA+ Awards program was created to recognize and celebrate the passion, dedication and invaluable contributions PHSA staff make every day to PHSA’s vision: Province-wide solutions. Better health.

This was the second cycle of the PHSA+ Awards – the recognition program was launched in the fall of 2012. Over the two month nomination period, PHSA received over 70 nominations from across PHSA – of which only two individuals and two teams were awarded the PHSA+ Award.

The VEC’s Dr. Simon Dobson received a PHSA+ award on June 4, 2014 at the  Leadership Town Hall, held at Child and Family Research Centre.

Dr. Dobson leads the B.C. site for the national QUEST HPV study which is a multi-year study reducing the number of doses of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines from three to two doses. The study is ensuring that two doses work as well as three doses of the HPV vaccine. Dr. Dobson also heads an immunization clinic for children that have had a previous reaction to a vaccine or have allergies that may require special immunization procedures.

Image credit: David Weir


Congratulations to Gordean Bjornson, Recipient of the Applegarth Staff Service Award!

G bjornson May 2014The Applegarth Staff Recognition Award was conceptualized by Dr. Derek Applegarth, a popular member of the Departments of Pediatrics and Pathology at BCCH, and currently Professor Emeritus. He proposed that deserving staff be recognized for excellence in personal achievements and outstanding contributions to the Faculty of Medicine and thus, the inception of the Applegarth Staff Recognition Awards. Three awards are granted annually: two in the Administrative category, and one in the Technical/Research category.

Gordean Bjornson, Research Administrator at the Vaccine Evaluation Center (VEC), is the 2014 recipient of the U.B.C Faculty of Medicine, Applegarth Staff Service Award in the Administration category. Gordean come to work for Dr. David Scheifele (now, Director of the VEC) in 1983. In 1988, she worked with Drs. Scheifele and Tingle on the establishment of the VEC, the first such academic entity in Canada. The VEC is recognized as a leading vaccine research center in the country and its model of operation has been replicated both in Canada and internationally.   Since 2000, Gordean has also been the Administrator for the Canadian Association for Immunization Research and Evaluation (CAIRE) whose office is located at the VEC.   Working with other vaccinologists in Canada,  CAIRE facilitates research collaboration and networking among Canada’s vaccinologists.   In her role with CAIRE she has helped to conceptualize and organize numerous research-oriented workshops, consultations with vaccine manufacturers and educational initiatives.

Gordean has represented both the VEC and CAIRE on the planning committees for the past three Canadian Immunization Conferences and two workshops to identify research priorities for new vaccines in Canada.

Gordean has co-authored 29 peer-reviewed publications and as first author in five.

Congratulations, Gordean!

Free APP to Keep Track of Immunization Records

Visit Immunize Canada about the ImmunizeCA app
This free APP developed by Immunize Canada is designed for all Canadians to help keep track of personal and family vaccine records. The APP has the ability to:

  • Easily record and store vaccine information
  • Access vaccination schedules
  • Manage vaccination appointments for the entire family
  • Access information about recommended and routine vaccinations
  • Receive alerts about disease outbreaks


Click on the image (to the left) to learn how to download the APP


VEC goes to South Africa!

2014.03.25 Gareth and Arlene (2)VEC’s Phd/MD student, Gareth Mercer, and clinical trial unit manager, Arlene Kallos, have landed in Cape Town, South Africa this week to visit the research centre at Tygerberg Hospital. They will be assisting the Cape Town team in finalizing the database entries (first set of study analyses) of the Mother Infant Health Study (MIHS).

The MIHS is following the health of a group of HIV-uninfected children born to HIV-infected mothers and a comparison group of children born to HIV-uninfected mothers in Cape Town, South Africa. The primary goal is to determine whether, during infancy, HIV-exposed, uninfected children are more likely to be hospitalized for infection than HIV-unexposed children. The MIHS is a collaboration between researchers at CFRI (lead by Dr. David Speert) and at Tygerberg Hospital and Stellenbosch University in Cape Town (led by Drs. Monika Esser and Mark Cotton). It is primarily funded by a Major Thematic Grant from The Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies.



Dr. Scheifele answers your questions about vaccines (Videos)

scheifele 5CTV News interviewed Dr. David Scheifele, who runs the Vaccine Evaluation Center here at B.C. Children’s Hospital, about current hot topics regarding vaccines. “It’s challenging. It’s frustrating. We have to continually work at educating the public as to the risks that these diseases continue to pose, and the benefits of getting the vaccine,” said Dr. David Scheifele, The video series are posted below. Read the full CTV News article here.

Dr. Scheifele answers your questions about vaccines in these short video clips:

Can I rely on “natural immunity” to protect my child?  | CTV Vancouver News

Do vaccines cause autism?  | CTV Vancouver News

How do we know vaccines are safe?  | CTV Vancouver News

What are the odds of getting sick from the measles vaccine?  | CTV Vancouver News

Are vaccine industry profits driving widespread vaccination?  | CTV Vancouver News

B.C. vaccination rates drop amid ‘misinformation’ campaign | CTV Vancouver News






Congratulations Dr. Scheifele!


Congratulations to Dr. David Scheifele for his appointment as an Officer of the Order of Canada!

As Director of the Vaccine Evaluation Center, Dr. Scheifele has been a leader in vaccine research since 1989. A distinguished lecturer and passionate clinician, his appointment reflects his outstanding academic achievements and his dedication to improve the health of Canadians through the prevention of infectious disease.

The Order of Canada is one of the greatest civilian honours in our country. For more information on the Order of Canada, visit