In March 2019, a group of global health leaders with expertise in influenza, vaccinology and pandemic preparedness was convened for a meeting titled "Shaping Meeting to explore the value of a coordinated work plan for epidemic and pandemic influenza vaccine preparedness." Influenza epidemics occur annually in every country in the world, resulting in significant global burden of illness and deaths. While every country is effected, most deaths and severe disease occur in low- and lower middle-income countries (LIC and LMIC). Influenza immunization programs that limit the burden of disease, deaths, and reduce economic impact are a fundamental public health intervention for seasonal epidemics. In addition, they provide the experience, systems and infrastructure for the timely and efficient use of vaccines and other medical countermeasures critical for effective pandemic responses. Pandemic influenza response activities, including vaccination efforts, will be most effective if used and practiced regularly. Consequently, countries with seasonal influenza prevention and control programs should be better prepared for, and have more effective pandemic responses than countries without such programs. A decade after the 2009 pandemic, despite ongoing prevention efforts, most LICs and LMICs still lack access to robust seasonal influenza immunization programs. Given this current state, meeting participants concluded that there is critical need to advance the expansion and strengthening of seasonal influenza immunization programs in LICs and LMICs not only to reduce the economic and public health effects of annual influenza epidemics, but also to increase preparedness to mitigate the threat of future pandemics and improve global heath security. Many government and private sectors, in a whole of government approach, need to be working together to support and advance countries' epidemic and pandemic influenza capacities preparedness objectives. Accomplishment of these objectives can be achieved with a coordinated work plan developed and guided by an alliance of international stakeholders, to include, among others, government, and nongovernment organization representation, civil society representatives, vaccine manufacturers, international organizations, and health security and influenza experts.
Keywords: Health security; Immunization; Influenza vaccine; Pandemic influenza; Pandemic preparedness; Policy; Seasonal influenza.
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