Emergencies preparedness, response

Production and availability of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 vaccines

30 October 2009

Where are pandemic influenza vaccines being produced?

Regulatory authorities have licensed (approved) pandemic vaccines in a number of countries. The length of the approval process depends on factors such as each country's regulatory pathway, the type of vaccine being licensed, and the stage of the manufacturer's readiness to submit appropriate information to regulatory authorities.

What is the global manufacturing capacity for pandemic influenza vaccines?

As of October, WHO estimates worldwide production capacity at about 3 billion doses per year in 12 months if all available capacity is devoted to pandemic vaccine.

What technologies are being used to grow pandemic influenza viruses to make vaccines?

Most of these vaccines are being produced using chicken eggs, while a few manufacturers are using cell culture technology for vaccine production.

Will there be enough pandemic influenza vaccine for everyone?

Production of the pandemic influenza vaccines continue but in some areas demand for vaccination is greater than the supply. This gap will narrow as more vaccines become available over time.

Who will receive priority for vaccination?

WHO continues to recommend that health workers be given first priority for early vaccination to protect themselves and their patients, and help keep health systems functioning as the pandemic evolves.

Other groups at higher risk for severe illness, based on clinical studies, should also be considered as priorities. National authorities will develop and implement vaccination plans based on circumstances within the country.

These other groups include pregnant women; those aged above 6 months with one of several chronic medical conditions; healthy young adults of 15 to 49 years of age; healthy children; healthy adults of 50 to 64 years of age; and healthy adults of 65 years of age and above.

Will developing countries have access to pandemic influenza vaccines? What is WHO doing to help?

The WHO Director-General has called for international solidarity to provide fair and equitable access to pandemic influenza vaccines for all countries. So far, WHO has helped secure significant donations of vaccines from countries and partners (about 200 million doses) for 95 low- and middle-income countries. WHO's goal is to provide each of these 95 countries with enough vaccine to immunize at least 10% of its population. Deployment of the first supplies of vaccines to these countries is expected to take place from November 2009 to February 2010.

How can someone who wants to be vaccinated find out how to get immunized?

National health authorities will decide how to implement national vaccination campaigns. They will know best about whether and where pandemic influenza vaccine is available, and how to get vaccinated.

(Updated from 12 July 2009, 27 May 2009 and 2 May 2009 versions)