Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on Immunization and Vaccine Preventable Diseases in the Western Pacific Region (16th Meeting - 20-22 June 2006) - Meeting Report
The 16th Meeting of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) in the Western Pacific Region was held from 20 to 22 June 2006 in Manila, Philippines. The designation of the TAG was changed from “Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) and Poliomyelitis Eradication” to “Immunization and Vaccine Preventable Diseases” to reflect the broadened scope and mandate of the TAG in addressing issues related to all vaccine preventable diseases in line with the Global Immunization Vision and Strategy (GIVS). A special group work session was organized for the first time, with the Member States categorized into three groups based on country’s level of development and performance of national immunization systems. The meeting of the Regional Interagency Coordinating Committee (ICC) was organized along with the TAG meeting as in previous years. The key objectives of the meeting were to review the technical and programmatic strategies adopted by Member States and to review the progress made towards measles elimination and hepatitis B control, and maintenance of poliomyelitis-free status. In addition, the TAG was expected to make technical and programmatic recommendations for introduction of new vaccines in national immunization systems. The TAG concluded that GIVS, maintaining poliomyelitis-free status, measles elimination and hepatitis B control goals and strategies should be used as guiding frameworks to strengthen national immunization programmes. Fully costed national multiyear plans should be used to operationalize GIVS. Other recommendations to strengthen routine immunization included: strengthening integrated vaccine preventable disease surveillance networks, establishment of school entry immunization checks, and development of better management systems focusing on microplanning, supportive supervision and the on-the-job training. The operational definition of measles elimination in the WHO Field Guidelines for Measles Elimination was considered appropriate. The key recommendation for measles elimination included development of national plans of action, introduction of routine second dose, conduct of supplementary immunization activities where needed, and strengthening of case-based measles surveillance along with a regional laboratory network. The TAG also recommended an expansion of use of alternative sample collection methods such as dried blood spots. The TAG endorsed the operational guidelines for birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine and recommended to develop guidelines for an impact assessment of the hepatitis B control programme. An expert group meeting may be convened to finalize the impact assessment guidelines. In addition, the TAG urged the Western Pacific Region to develop health care workers’ vaccination policies. The TAG concluded that routine immunization programmes in some countries must be strengthened to prevent the emergence of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus and poliomyelitis epidemics following importation of wild poliovirus. In addition, the TAG urged four countries in the Region to complete phase-1 laboratory containment and advised all countries to regularly update national inventories. To expand the use of new vaccines in the Region, the TAG recommended that systematic efforts should be made to generate data on disease burden and epidemiology along with mobilization of appropriate financial and technical support from national and international partners and stakeholders.