Mrs. Phouth lives in a rural village in Luang Prabang Province, Laos. As Laos is preparing for the start of the influenza season, the 31-year-old mother is expecting her second child. The Phouths run a small family grocery business in a country where medical resources are few and far between. She cannot afford to get sick, especially while pregnant.
Influenza vaccination is the best protection against the flu. Decades of experience have shown that flu vaccine is a cost-effective way to help prevent flu-related illness that results in work and school absences, and can result in hospitalization and death. Pregnant women are at particular risk for complications and death from influenza. Despite the benefits of vaccinating, flu vaccination programs remain out of reach for many lower-income countries like Laos. This year, thanks to a sizeable donation of flu vaccine to Laos Ministry of Health by bioCSL and others from the Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction (PIVI), Mrs. Phouth was able to get vaccinated against influenza for the first time.
When the village head announced that a vaccination clinic would be held at the provincial hospital, the Phouths planned to make the two kilometer trip on foot. In late April the Vice Minister of Health, the Provincial Vice Governor, the US Ambassador and a host of government officials joined National Immunization Program staff in welcoming Mrs. Phouth and more than 2500 others to the official launch ceremony. As she waited to receive her immunization, Mrs. Phouth shared her reasons for making the special trip, “I want to protect myself from flu. I’m excited because it’s my first time for the flu shot.”
The Partnership is committed to bringing together the individuals, organizations and resources to assure Mrs. Phouth, pregnant women like Mrs. Phouth and other vulnerable groups have the opportunity to protect themselves against flu and its complications.