Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals

International meeting on influenza vaccine effectiveness

3-4 December 2012, CICG Geneva, Switzerland

Meeting summary

Background

Influenza is a disease of great public health significance due to both substantial annual disease burden and the threat of pandemic influenza. Experts agree that influenza vaccines represent a critical tool to address both seasonal and pandemic influenza threats. During the past decade, increased efforts to develop new influenza vaccines, to expand existing vaccines use, and to increase influenza vaccine production capacity have led to heightened attention to understand and communicate the value of influenza vaccines.

Continued progress in prevention of influenza through vaccination will depend in part on ensuring that accurate measurements of vaccine effectiveness can be made and that these data can be effectively communicated to key stakeholders.

Finally, establishing a landscape of data available and data needed will allow WHO and other international partners to develop plans to collect data that will drive evidence-based national public health decisions and influenza vaccine policy development in the next decade.

This meeting was organized in collaboration with the US CDC.

Meeting objectives

  • To review global data on recent influenza vaccine effectiveness studies, including an update on efforts to collect vaccine effectiveness information. This provided WHO and partners with a landscape of data and activities to be used for planning.
  • To determine critical data gaps related to target groups for immunization, including young children, health care workers, elderly, immunosuppressed persons and pregnant women. The meeting assessed global information gaps on vaccine effectiveness with particular emphasis in low- and mid-income countries.
  • To discuss methodology for vaccine effectiveness measurements and explore best practices for conducting studies that allow sharing and comparison of data. This was designed to foster closer collaborations, greater harmonization of methods, and more robust global data.
  • To discuss challenges in communicating influenza vaccine effectiveness and its importance in vaccine policy implementation to derive principles that will help partners communicate effectively with key stakeholders.

Expected outcomes

  • a review article on global influenza vaccine effectiveness and information gaps;
  • a guidance document on suggested best practices in conducting VE studies; and
  • a toolkit on conducting vaccine effectiveness studies available on the WHO website.
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