First Meeting on Seasonal Influenza Vaccines in Western Pacific Region
22-23 October 2012, Manila, Philippines - Immunization against influenza is considered among the most important interventions in reducing the public health impact of seasonal and pandemic influenza. However, despite Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) members in the Western Pacific contributing more than 76% of the virus isolates for the global vaccine composition effort from 1998 to present, seasonal influenza vaccination programmes have been limited to a few countries and areas in this Region.
The 2009 influenza pandemic provided an opportunity for countries and areas to develop and execute plans for influenza immunization. While overall pandemic vaccine deployment and use in the Region was successful, many challenges were faced given the lack of influenza vaccine experience in many countries and areas and the targeting of "non-traditional" populations, and other programmatic challenges, including vaccine licensing and other national regulatory issues within Member States. Lessons learnt from the pandemic experience are a valuable asset for informing seasonal influenza immunization.
The meeting was organized to increase the capacity on the technical aspects of seasonal influenza vaccines for the control of seasonal epidemics and pandemic preparedness; update countries on the new SAGE recommendations and WHO position paper on influenza vaccines; review the lessons learnt from the 2009 influenza pandemic as regards immunization; and develop a plan for addressing national regulatory issues associated with seasonal influenza vaccines.
A total of 25 participants from epidemiology, national immunization and national regulatory authority department from 13 Member States attended the meeting. Three representatives from WHO Collaborating Center for references and research on influenza three experts from USA, Hong Kong, Japan, nine observers from partner’s organizations also attended the meeting.