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Shannon MacDonald, PhD RN

Assistant Professor

Nursing | Public Health, School of

About Me

My program of research focuses on vaccine hesitancy, uptake, and safety, with an emphasis on supporting immunization best practice and policies. I have a particular interest in addressing system-level barriers and supports to achieving high immunization coverage, especially in vulnerable populations. My research training is in epidemiology, public health, and nursing, including a post-doctoral fellowship in the Alberta Ministry of Health. 

My clinical background is in pediatric intensive care, having worked in pediatric ICUs in Newfoundland and North Carolina, before I changed my focus more toward public health and preventive care. I subsequently taught in schools of nursing in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia and participated in various international maternal-child health projects. My primary interest continues to be child health/pediatrics, although I also study adult immunization.

My areas of interest and expertise include:

  • Immunization
  • Infectious disease
  • Child health, particularly vulnerable populations such as children in the child welfare system and Indigenous child health
  • Public health

Academic and clinical training

  • Post-Doctoral Fellow (2013-2016) University of Calgary Department of Pediatrics & Alberta Ministry of Health
  • PhD (Nursing) (2013) University of Alberta
  • Master of Nursing (2002) Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Bachelor of Nursing (1997) Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Bachelor of Science (Zoology) (1993) University of Alberta

Recent awards

  • Alberta Health Services President’s Excellence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Innovation and Research Excellence (2018), as part of the Alberta Provincial Pediatric EnTeric Infection TEam (APPETITE)
  • Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program (CCHCSP) Career Development Award (2017-2021)
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Fellowship (2014-2016)


My methodological strengths are in quantitative research, epidemiology, administrative health data, and survey methods. I also include qualitative methods in many of my research projects, working with colleagues with expertise in this approach. I often collaborate with multi-disciplinary clinicians and policy-makers at Alberta Health and AHS to answer questions of practical importance to immunization policy and clinical practice.


As Principal investigator

  • Evaluating public health interventions II: Evidence-based decisions regarding immunization policy and programs to reduce the burden of preventable disease (vaccine coverage, determinants, & safety). Alberta Ministry of Health, 2018-2021 ($872,500). 
  • Helping health care providers address the drop in childhood immunization coverage between age 12 and 18 months: A pilot test of text message reminders. Public Health Agency of Canada, 2018-2021 ($320,055).
  • Childhood immunization in Alberta First Nations people: Measurement of coverage and identification of barriers and supports. CIHR, 2017-2019 ($199,884). 
  • Barriers and supports to childhood and adolescent immunization in global Indigenous people: A systematic review. Endowment Fund for the Future - Knowledge Synthesis Grant, 2017-2018 ($5,000).
  • Evaluating public health interventions I: Evidence-based decisions regarding immunization policy and programs to reduce the burden of preventable disease (vaccine safety & health economics). Alberta Ministry of Health, 2017-2018 ($250,000). 
  • Determinants of childhood immunization decision making among parents. Alberta Health Services, 2014-2018 (in kind support).

As Co-investigator

  • The nature and extent of vaccine hesitancy among chiropractors and naturopaths: Identifying how vaccination views impact practice. SSHRC Insight Development Grant, 2018-2022  ($205,418). PI: Dube E, Co-Is: Bettinger J, Dreidger M, Graham J, Greyson D, MacDonald N, MacDonald SE, Meyer S.
  • Enhancing HPV vaccine uptake in school-based programs in Canada (Alberta site lead). Canadian Immunization Research Network (CIRN), 2017-2019 (Total grant $247,000; Alberta sub-grant $46,435). PI: Dube E. Co-Is: Bettinger J, Crowcroft N, Deeks S, Dubey V, Guay M, Guichon J, MacDonald N, MacDonald SE, Naus M, Ogilvie G, Sauvageau C, Wilson S, Dube E.
  • Enhancing HPV vaccination in First Nations populations in Alberta (EHVINA Study): Towards a sustainable, community-driven, knowledge translation strategy. Alberta Innovates Cancer Prevention Research Opportunity, 2016-2021 ($1,240,000). PI: Nelson G. Principal Knowledge User: Letendre A, Shea-Budgell M. Co-Is: Guichon J, Henderson R, Kellner J, MacDonald SE, Mrklas K. Co-knowledge Users: Glaze S, Healy B, Kromm S, Richardson R, Tiwana S. Collaborator: Bell C.
  •  Alberta Provincial Pediatric EnTeric Infection Team (APPETITE): Epidemiology, emerging organisms, economics, and parental preferences Alberta Innovates  Collaborative Research & Innovation Opportunities (CRIO) Team Grant, 2014-2019  ($4,999,166). PI: Freedman S. Co-Is: Ali S, Chuck A, Chui L, Currie G, Dickinson J, Drews S, Eltorki M, Jiang J, Johnson D, Kellner J, Lee B, Louie M, MacDonald SE, Pang X, Tarr P, Tellier R, Vanderkooi O. Co-knowledge Users: Graham T, Lavoie M, MacDonald J, Svenson L, Talbot J. 
  • Planning for Syndemics. CIHR Planning and Dissemination Grant – IPPH–ICS-Artificial Intelligence, 2018-2019 ($19,375). PI: Crowcroft N. Co-Is: Bolotin S, Brudno M, Buckeridge D, Janjua N, Kwong J, MacDonald SE, Wilson K 
  • Unpacking vaccine hesitancy among perinatal healthcare providers: Influences on beliefs and practices. CIHR Operating Grant: Improved Immunization Coverage Initiative, 2017-2019 ($78,785). PI: Bettinger J. Co-Is: Dube E, Graham J, Greyson D, MacDonald N, MacDonald SE, Meyer S, Russell M, Witteman H.


I currently teach NURS 682 (Causal analysis in health research) and encourage both Masters and PhD students to take this course if they plan to include any quantitative methods in their thesis project. My aim is to develop an appreciation of statistics as a valuable tool in answering students' research questions, rather than something to be feared.