Vaccines are a key component of global public health policy and are particularly important in the defence of the health of young children. Despite the challenges of so doing, new and improved vaccines must be evaluated in the target population of infants and young children prior to licensure.

The Oxford Vaccine Group has enrolled over 11,000 adults and children into clinical trials in the Thames Valley since 2001. The clinical trials undertaken in the UK since 2001 include phase IV studies of a meningitis C vaccine and a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine; a phase II study of a new pneumococcal vaccine for infants; phase II and III studies of quadrivalent meningococcal vaccines and group B meningococcal vaccines; phase II studies of a preschool vaccine; evaluation of a novel avian and swine influenza vaccines in adults and children; study of different schedules for immunisation of the elderly against pneumococcal infection.

Development work has been initiated on a typhoid challenge model with BRC funding which will help identification of new vaccine candidates that could prevent up to 600,000 deaths per year. Epidemiological studies have included evaluation of carriage of Haemophilus influenzae type b and Streptococcus pneumonia throughout childhood in the UK and Nepal, surveillance of invasive bacterial infections in children admitted to Patan hospital in Kathmandu.

Qualitative research studies have evaluated parental views about immunisation, vaccine research and influenza vaccines. The group has a particular interest in the ethics of consent in childhood and is working with the Centre for Ethics on studies evaluating the process of consent in school age children.