The Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction began with an innovative idea. In 2011 US pharmacy chain Walgreens approached the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with a question: Could Walgreens partner with the CDC to donate excess seasonal flu vaccine to a low-income country?
The CDC mobilized a partnership with the government of Laos, the World Health Organization Country Office in Laos, Walgreens, and UPS to coordinate donations of excess vaccine. These partners worked together to deliver 350,000 flu vaccines to Laos in 2012. This donation began to lay the foundation for what is becoming a sustainable national seasonal influenza vaccine program in Laos, the first in a low or low-middle income country in the region.
In 2013, with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and support from the CDC, The Task Force for Global Health formally launched the partnership as the Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction, or PIVI.
Over the years PIVI’s work has evolved, as we realized that countries had different needs and were at various stages of readiness to engage in building sustainable influenza programs. To better support countries, we began to meet them where they were, providing technical assistance and readiness assessment, helping to build a strong foundation for sustainable influenza vaccine programs. This work also includes strengthening capacity for evidence-based vaccine policy decision making by National Immunization Technical Advisory Groups (NITAG), which helps to inform country-level decision making.
We also began to more pointedly integrate the approach that on-going seasonal influenza vaccine activities not only have the immediate effect of reducing the burden of influenza disease so people can contribute to the economy, their communities and families.
On-going seasonal influenza activities can improve pandemic influenza preparedness in the areas of surveillance, laboratory, and vaccine distribution and administration.
Pandemic preparedness can help to transform countries’ health systems, protecting the global community from the spread of a pandemic influenza virus and other emerging health threats.
To date, PIVI has provided/committed to provide more than 3 million doses of flu vaccine to Ministries of Health in Albania, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Lao PDR, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Nicaragua and Republic of Georgia – working to create sustainable, seasonal influenza programs.
PIVI has worked in partnership with the CDC to provide technical assistance to Ministries of Health in Kenya, Thailand and Vietnam. Plans for program growth include assessing partnerships with India as well as continuing to expand to additional countries.