In 2011, US pharmacy chain Walgreens approached the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with the idea to donate excess doses of seasonal influenza vaccine. Walgreens and the CDC’s Influenza Division then began to pull together a group of interested organizations – including the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos), the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Office in Laos, and UPS – to facilitate the donation. Although it was too late in the season to utilize the doses Walgreens had, the organizations agreed they would try again in 2012.
Having laid the groundwork for a vaccine donation in 2011, in 2012 Walgreens and CDC decided to try again. Collaborating with the Government of Laos, the WHO Country Office in Laos, and UPS 375,000 doses of seasonal influenza vaccine were successfully delivered to Laos and that spring, the country conducted its first-ever seasonal influenza vaccination campaign. Later in the year, the project was highlighted as a promising strategy for global vaccine security by the WHO and honored with the CDC Director’s Award for Innovation.
In 2013, Walgreens and UPS continued to support the informal collaboration and were joined by new contributing partners, bioCSL, the US Air Force, and Becton, Dickinson and Company. Contributions of vaccine and ancillary supplies allowed Laos to hold its second annual seasonal influenza vaccination campaign and brought Nicaragua into the project as well. Nicaragua in turn expanded its existing seasonal influenza vaccination program to include vaccinations for more pregnant women. In total, the collaboration provided Laos and Nicaragua with a combined total of 190,000 doses of seasonal influenza vaccine in 2013.
Later in the year, The Task Force for Global Health (The Task Force) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation joined the CDC to formally launch the Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction, or PIVI. PIVI’s operational headquarters were then established at The Task Force in Atlanta, Georgia.
In 2014, with The Task Force and CDC guiding the partnership together, the program received its largest vaccine contribution to date. bioCSL donated 763,000 doses of seasonal influenza vaccine to PIVI, all of which were used to continue the work being done in Laos. Additional contributions from Walgreens and ASD Healthcare were used to purchase 33,000 doses of seasonal influenza vaccine for Nicaragua through the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Revolving Fund. Nicaragua used those doses to continue their focus on providing protection against the flu for pregnant women, ultimately providing vaccinations for all pregnant women in the Managua District.
During the second half of 2014, South Korean biopharmaceutical company Green Cross joined the partnership and contributed more than 183,000 doses of flu vaccine. With that contribution, PIVI was able to bring two new countries into the partnership: Morocco and Armenia. By the end of the year, PIVI had facilitated seasonal influenza vaccinations for nearly 1 million people.
In 2015, PIVI focused on the implementation of a new post-introduction evaluation tool in its newest partner countries as well as on continuing to collect and analyze maternal immunization and adverse events following immunization data from participating hospitals in Laos and Nicaragua. The partnership also explored new sources for vaccine and monetary contributions and continued conversations with current and potential country and contributing partners. In September 2015, PIVI directed a donation of 5,700 doses of vaccine from Green Cross to Laos.
2016 and beyond
In 2016, CDC awarded The Task Force $10-million through a cooperative agreement to support PIVI. Under the five-year commitment, PIVI will grow to include a total of 8-10 low-and middle-income countries where the partnership will develop sustainable seasonal influenza vaccine programs.
PIVI also continues to partner with additional low-and middle-income countries to improve capacity for vaccine implementation, inform vaccine use policy, and strengthen programs for seasonal and pandemic influenza.