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Theme 1: Making the most of real-world data

This theme aims to increase vaccine coverage and support a data-driven immunisation programme by making the most of digital technologies and linked electronic health records. 



  • Drive evidence-based immunisation policy 

  • Improve vaccine coverage and reduce health inequalities 

  • Make the best use of data in the immunisation programme 

To support an evidence-based response to COVID-19, we have undertaken studies to identify who is at risk of COVID-19, understand the effect of the pandemic on uptake of routine childhood vaccinations such as measles, and will be studying the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination. 

An over-arching focus over the five years is understanding how to reduce health inequalities in vaccine uptake and vaccine-preventable disease, including an HPRU-funded PhD to focus on how mental health affects vaccine uptake among mothers and babies.  

We will continue to develop methods for better use of data in delivery and evaluation of the immunisation programme, and vaccine-related research. This will include an HPRU-funded PhD to develop understanding of ‘healthy vaccinee bias’ (in which people who receive vaccines tend to differ from those who do not) and methods to address this in vaccine research. 

Many of our studies make use of anonymised information from NHS patient health records, which is provided by patients and collected by the NHS as part of their care and support, and we are very grateful to the patients and NHS workers who make this possible. 

More information on the value of patient data for research can be found at

Lead researchers

Helen McDonald

Clinical Assistant Professor

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Liam Smeeth

Professor of Clinical Epidemiology

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Nick Andrews

Senior Statistician, Deputy Head of the Statistics Unit

Public Health England