Country’s Advancements, Long-term Collaboration with CDC and WHO, and Vaccine Donation from Walgreens Lead to Solid Step Forward in Influenza Prevention
On April 24, 2012, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR, or Laos), a small and relatively resource-poor southeast Asian country, launched a seasonal influenza vaccination program to protect adults at high risk of serious flu-related complications, including pregnant women, in that country. The program is the product of a 6-year collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Lao Ministry of Health to develop the country’s influenza public heath capacities. This year’s vaccine was provided by Walgreens, which donated 375,000 doses of trivalent inactivated vaccine (commonly called flu shots) directly to Lao PDR.
“CDC and WHO’s work with the Lao PDR Ministry of Health has centered on enhancing laboratory detection of influenza viruses, expanding the nation’s surveillance system, and linking existing reporting structures together,” said Dr. Marc-Alain Widdowson, Influenza Division’s Team Lead for the International Epidemiology and Research Team at CDC.
In particular, the expanded surveillance system and enhanced lab capabilities are providing Lao PDR with a stream of data that point to the importance of influenza prevention. The country can use the information to determine the best time to vaccinate their people and the best vaccine to use. Also as a result of enhancements, Lao PDR is now regularly submitting data to the international network that tracks emerging influenza viruses and provides vaccine recommendations.
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