Evidence Review to Support Influenza Vaccine Introduction in WHO’s Western Pacific Region

PLoS One
[Accessed 20 July 2013]

A Review of the Evidence to Support Influenza Vaccine Introduction in Countries and Areas of WHO’s Western Pacific Region
Gina Samaan, Michelle McPherson, Jeffrey Partridge
Research Article | published 16 Jul 2013 | PLOS ONE 10.1371/journal.pone.0070003

Immunization against influenza is considered an essential public health intervention to control both seasonal epidemics and pandemic influenza. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are five key policy and three key programmatic issues that decision-makers should consider before introducing a vaccine. These are (a) public health priority, (b) disease burden, (c) efficacy, quality and safety of the vaccine, (d) other inventions, (e) economic and financial issues, (f) vaccine presentation, (g) supply availability and (h) programmatic strength. We analyzed the body of evidence currently available on these eight issues in the WHO Western Pacific Region.

Methodology/Principal Findings
Studies indexed in PubMed and published in English between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2010 from the 37 countries and areas of the Western Pacific Region were screened for keywords pertaining to the five policy and three programmatic issues. Studies were grouped according to country income level and vaccine target group. There were 133 articles that met the selection criteria, with most (90%) coming from high-income countries. Disease burden (n = 34), vaccine efficacy, quality and safety (n = 27) and public health priority (n = 27) were most frequently addressed by studies conducted in the Region. Many studies assessed influenza vaccine policy and programmatic issues in the general population (42%), in the elderly (24%) and in children (17%). Few studies (2%) addressed the eight issues relating to pregnant women.

The evidence for vaccine introduction in countries and areas in this Region remains limited, particularly in low- and middle-income countries that do not currently have influenza vaccination programmes. Surveillance activities and specialized studies can be used to assess the eight issues including disease burden among vaccine target groups and the cost-effectiveness of influenza vaccine. Multi-country studies should be considered to maximize resource utilization for cross-cutting issues such as vaccine presentation and other inventions.