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Posted on 08 Dec 2021
Infection prevention and control

Greater insights into the longer-term impact of COVID-19 in the Victorian community as well as the effect of vaccination on health outcomes is becoming clearer thanks to the work of the Centre for Victorian Data Linkage (CVDL).

The CVDL has been working closely with the Public Health team in the Victorian Department of Health since early 2020 to provide a linked dataset of COVID-19 positive notifications, hospital admissions, emergency department presentations and deaths.

Initially used to support COVID-19 surveillance, the linked data is now increasingly used to understand the longer-term outcomes of the virus for patients and the local health system. For example, analysis of the linked data indicates that nearly 10% of patient hospitalised because of COVID-19 are readmitted within 60 days of that initial admission, and that the length of stay of these readmissions decreases compared with the first COVID hospitalisation.

Australian Immunisation Register data has also recently been added to the linked dataset, which will enable comparison of outcomes for vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

VAHI CEO Lance Emerson said the work of the CVDL during the pandemic has emphasised the importance and growing demand for data linkage services.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the central role data linkage can play in responding to major health issues in the community,’ Dr Emerson said. “This role will only become more important in areas such as chronic disease surveillance and response as we move into the post-pandemic period.”

The CVDL is also collaborating with the Commonwealth Department of Health on a COVID-19 recovery project to understand longer term impacts of COVID-19 on Victoria’s population health and the health services system. The project focuses on areas such as chronic disease, palliative care and mental health, with CVDL linking Commonwealth Medibank Benefits Schedule (MBS) and Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule (PBS) data with Victorian COVID-19, hospital and mental health datasets. 

Inclusion of MBS and PBS data will enable a whole-of-health system view of to understand the impact of COVID-19 and will be an extremely valuable dataset for informing Victorian and Commonwealth government policy and service delivery.

VAHI is also overseeing the development of a linked dataset to inform Victoria’s response to long COVID. It is proposed that the linked data will be supplemented by a survey to understand symptoms of long COVID experienced by people who have tested positive. For more information on the new dataset or for any other CVDL related enquiries, please contact

Page last updated: 08 Dec 2021