Laos Receives 5,760 Doses of Green Cross Flu Vaccine

Laos GC 2015 Donation BoxesJust this past month the Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction (PIVI) arranged for the donation of slightly more than 5,700 doses of influenza vaccine from South Korean pharmaceutical manufacturer and PIVI partner, Green Cross. The doses were sent to Laos, arriving September 21, and marking the fourth PIVI-supported influenza vaccine campaign to be held in the country since the start of the partnership in 2012.

Laos is located in a tropical region, where flu tends to circulate year-round rather than during a certain season. As a result, the timing of the vaccine’s arrival in country is not an important issue; it can always be useful. Nevertheless, the MOH in Laos has planned to distribute the vaccine within two weeks of its arrival in Vientiane. Details on who will receive the doses will be available on in the coming weeks.

PIVI Featured in USA Today’s Special Vaccine Awareness Supplement

USA Today - Vision for Vaccines Screenshot 6.19.2015The Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction (PIVI) makes its national media debut in a special supplement on vaccine awareness in today’s issue of USA Today. The supplement, titled “Vaccine Awareness,” was created in partnership with MediaPlanet and contains a number of articles and features about the importance and benefits of vaccinations. PIVI’s own Dr. Alan Hinman contributed a short piece on the importance of improving access to vaccines in low- and middle-income countries and notes PIVI as an example of a program working hard to do just that.

With 50 years of experience working in global health, Dr. Hinman is no stranger to the myriad challenges – the greatest of which is cost – one faces when trying to bring vaccines to low- and middle-income countries.  Nevertheless, Dr. Hinman writes, because vaccine-preventable diseases have a more significant impact on communities than just causing illness and even death in individuals, they are a worthy investment. When a person falls ill with influenza, for example, and is unable to work, wages are lost and productivity decreases. Families are affected, businesses are affected, and ultimately, economies are affected. Vaccine-preventable diseases are unnecessary stumbling blocks for individuals and communities on the path to growth. Fortunately, as Dr. Hinman notes, there are a number of organizations that are working to improve access to vaccines in low- and middle-income countries.  Organizations such as the World Health Organization, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF, and CDC, together with governments around the world, are making impressive strides towards improving access to vaccines in low- and middle-income countries.

As a project at The Task Force for Global Health’s Center for Vaccine Equity, PIVI’s mission is rooted firmly in the belief that all people, regardless of where they live, deserve access to vaccines. PIVI helps to improve access to seasonal flu vaccine in particular by connecting vaccine manufacturers and other donors with its low- and middle-income country partners.

Readers in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles can find the special supplement in the print edition of today’s USA Today. Readers everywhere can click here to reach the article.

The supplement featured a number of other interesting articles on vaccines and immunization. Links to the other articles are below.

The Mission to End Preventable Diseases Across the Globe
Caryl M. Stern, President & CEO, US FUND, UNICEF

Shot of Reality: Can Immunization Really Save Your Life?
Susan J. Rehm, MD, Medical Director, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID)

Fact or Fiction: Addressing Parents’ Top Vaccination Questions
Jennifer Zavolinsky, Director, Outreach Initiatives, Every Child By Two; Carter/Bumpers Champions for Immunization

Taking Back Control of Your Children’s Health
Paul A. Offitt, MD, Director, Vaccine Education Center; Attending Physician, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Doctor’s Perspective: Pushing Back Against Pertussis
Siobhan M. Dolan, MD, MPH, Medical Advisor to March of Dimes

Experts Weigh In: Shifting Perception and Implications for Vaccination
Jocelyn Z. Konrad, GVP, Pharmacy Initiatives & Clinical Services, Rite Aid
Ido Hadari, CEO,

In Harm’s Way: A Bid for Vaccines Gets Personal
Faye Bookman

Amanda Peet on Why Vaccines Are Vital for Child Safety
MediaPlanet Staff

World Immunization Week 2015

World Immunization Week 2015

World Immunization Week 2015 runs from April 24 through April 30, and the Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction (PIVI) is proud to support and contribute to its mission to close the immunization gap and provide health equity for all when it comes to vaccine-preventable diseases.

Vaccines are one of the greatest advances in the history of public health. As the World Health Organization (WHO) points out, immunization “prevents between 2 and 3 million deaths every year and now protects children not only against diseases for which vaccines have been available for many years, such as diphtheria, tetanus, polio and measles, but also against diseases such as pneumonia and rotavirus diarrhoea, 2 of the biggest killers of children under 5.” While such progress is a major accomplishment, improved health afforded by vaccines still evades 1 in 5 of the world’s children. The WHO estimates that in 2013, “21.8 million infants [worldwide] did not receive lifesaving vaccines.”

World Immunization Week, an effort coordinated by WHO, is driven by the 2012 Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP), which provides a framework for improving access to vaccines worldwide by 2020. The goal of the GVAP is ultimately to avoid millions of deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases. This is a big task given that the inequity in vaccine coverage globally is due to a number of barriers, including “inadequate supply of vaccines, lack of access to health services, a shortage of accurate information about immunization, and insufficient political and financial support.” The WHO has taken the lead in breaking down these barriers; for example, last year’s World Immunization Week, with the theme of “Know, Check, and Protect,” worked to combat the shortage of accurate information available by debuting an app that provides more and better information about vaccines, from the diseases they prevent to the vaccination schedules for different countries. Fortunately, the WHO’s work is supported and supplemented by a number of organizations that promote vaccine uptake. PIVI is among those organizations, as it facilitates the acquisition and administration of influenza vaccines in its low- and middle-income partner countries.

2015’s theme for World Immunization Week is “Close the Immunization Gap.” The focus is on making sure that everyone has the opportunity to be protected from a number of diseases. The infographic above provides a snapshot into the current inequity in immunizations worldwide and highlights the 2015 GVAP goals associated with a number of vaccine-preventable diseases.

To learn more about World Immunization Week, click on the infographic above or the banner below.

World Immunization Week 2015 - Close the Gap!



Images and quotes from World Health Organization, World Immunization Week 2015: Close the immunization gap


Armenia Demonstrates How to Prepare for Seasonal Flu

Tavush region-HCW v2

A healthcare worker in the Tavush region of Armenia receives her flu shot

When the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that this year’s Northern Hemisphere flu season was officially under way in Europe, Armenia was well prepared. Armenia joined PIVI as a partner country in November of 2014, when it received a contribution of 60,000 doses of influenza vaccine provided by Green Cross, a South Korean biopharmaceutical company and PIVI contributing partner. The vaccine arrived in early December, only a few weeks prior to the start of the Northern Hemisphere flu season, and the timing presented a challenge to the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Armenia to distribute and administer the doses as rapidly as possible. Fortunately, the MoH rose to the occasion. By leveraging its solid immunization infrastructure and good organizational relationships and planning carefully, the MoH made strategic decisions that facilitated the quick and efficient distribution and administration of the doses, providing protection against the flu for individuals in high-risk, priority populations.



A solid immunization and disease preparedness infrastructure is a key asset for an immunization campaign, providing a network of resources and personnel that the campaign can access and leverage. In Armenia, the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) provided that infrastructure and as a result, the vaccine was distributed and administered quickly and efficiently. The EPI in Armenia regularly collaborates with various governmental and non-governmental organizations and has decades of experience using its network to organize and facilitate vaccinations for a number of diseases, including tuberculosis, diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DTP), hepatitis B, measles, and polio. With the EPI leading the vaccination campaign, the MoH was able to access the EPI network and quickly distribute the doses to polyclinics and care facilities where the doses could then be administered. Ultimately, the vaccination campaign went so well the MoH is working to secure an order of vaccine doses for the 2015-2016 flu season.



At the core of PIVI’s success is the fact that it is a partnership: each partner contributes its resources and expertise to protect individuals from the flu and its complications and to provide organizations with valuable experience in pandemic preparedness. Collaboration ultimately brings progress. Armenia exemplifies the partnership aspect of PIVI: good working relationships between the MoH and other national partners provided the access and resources needed to make sure the vaccine was distributed and administered quickly and to those who would benefit most from it. Working with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MoLSA), which operates the country’s orphanages, the MoH arranged for administration and storage of both rounds of the vaccine doses needed to protect the children in their charge. The MoH also tapped into its relationships with other national partners to distribute the doses quickly and efficiently to target populations at their work sites. Good relationships between the MoH and the MoLSA as well as between the MoH and other national partners enabled the quick, organized, and comprehensive administration of a large portion of the 60,000 doses of vaccine.



Thoughtful planning was an essential part of making the influenza vaccine doses available to those who received it. With the vaccine arriving in mid-December and the flu season likely to begin soon thereafter, the MoH needed to ensure that the doses were given out immediately in order for the vaccine to be effective. Engaging other national partners was one way to make sure that happened. Another way in which the MoH ensured a smooth and effective distribution of the vaccine was in its acknowledgement of the importance of providing two doses of vaccine for children and, with that in mind, immediately allocating the appropriate number of doses for the children in orphanages that were vaccinated. By setting aside the total number of needed doses for the children right from the start, the MoLSA could easily implement the second round of vaccinations without delay. As only a portion of the doses were allocated to the government and MoLSA, the MoH needed to ensure that the remainder, intended for other risk groups, would be accepted: they needed to get the target, high-risk populations engaged and eager to be vaccinated. The MoH addressed the issue of creating demand by inviting a group of journalists from popular media and news outlets to participate in a workshop prior to the start of the vaccination campaign. The workshop gave the MoH a chance to provide the journalists with information about the vaccine and its benefits. Holding the workshop prior to the campaign start gave the journalists a chance to sensitize the public to the vaccine. Consequently, acceptance of the vaccine among target populations was high and negative press about the vaccine was non-existent.


Ultimately, the Armenian MoH was able to direct the 60,000 doses to individuals in high-risk groups, including children in orphanages, pregnant women, healthcare workers, individuals in care facilities and intensive care units, as well as to government personnel. Uptake was high overall and the MoH is already working on how it will secure more doses of vaccine for next year (a request to UNICEF for assistance in purchasing 15,000 doses for the 2015-2016 flu season is in the works) and ensure that coverage among high-risk groups – especially pregnant women – can be as comprehensive as possible. While the Armenian MoH faced challenges in the execution of this PIVI-facilitated immunization campaign they were able, nevertheless, to leverage the assets they had in order to create a well-designed, thorough distribution plan that allowed for maximum protection and minimum waste.

Laos 2012 Evaluation Findings Published in January 2015 Issue of Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses

Influenza and Other Respiratory DiseasesPIVI partners and stakeholders at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Lao Ministry of Heath, and the World Health Organization (WHO) have just published a paper in the January 2015 issue of the journal Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses. The paper, “Introducing seasonal influenza vaccine in low-income countries: an adverse events following immunization survey in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic,” provides insight into what PIVI does after the vaccine has been administered.

The paper reports the findings of an evaluation done shortly after vaccine doses were administered in April and May of 2012. Interviews with 2,089 persons who received the influenza vaccine focused on the occurrence of any adverse event following immunization (AEFI). AEFIs could include a number of manifestations (e.g. fever, headache, and/or soreness or swelling around the injection site) and were categorized in four grades ranging from mild to life threatening. The interviews revealed that none of the AEFIs reported were severe or life threatening; most were localized reactions. Additionally, the authors point out that “the majority of AEFIs were reported among persons ≥50 years of age or with chronic disease, and it is likely that some reported events were associated with an existing underlying medical condition and not the vaccine.” The interviews also included questions regarding the participants’ attitudes towards the vaccine. In addition to a high acceptance rate of the vaccine, the results also indicated that many of the participants were quite interested in both being vaccinated again and making the vaccine available for children. Findings such as these demonstrate the vaccine’s safety as well as its public appeal and bode well for PIVI as the partnership continues to encourage contributing partners and country partners to invest in influenza vaccination campaigns.

In order to successfully follow up with persons who have been vaccinated and learn more about the impact of influenza vaccine on a population, the PIVI team at CDC works closely with country partners, including the Ministry of Health, and stakeholders, including the in-country or regional WHO office. In Laos, the collaborative nature of PIVI provided a learning opportunity for the Laos Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP): CDC epidemiologists on hand for the vaccination campaign kickoff worked closely with the Laos FETP, teaching them how to collect and analyze data for the evaluation. In addition to engaging in the development, implementation, and evaluation of the immunization campaign, the Laos FETP also worked with the CDC to write the just-published paper, giving many of the Laotian partners their first opportunity to author a public health publication. Training opportunities like this help build a country’s public health capacity and provide country partners with a skill set that can be applied to studying other public health issues and disease outbreaks. Finally, while the immunization campaign and evaluation provided great learning and training opportunities for the country partners, the campaign was significantly affected by an important contribution from the Laos Ministry of Health. The paper’s conclusion notes: “the success of this vaccine campaign was in large measure a function of integration with existing National Immunization Program (NIP) systems which are ideally suited to deliver vaccine to populations with limited access to preventive health services in a short period of time. The use of the NIP also contributed to building trust and acceptance of the vaccine among government stakeholders and the local population.” With each partner contributing its expertise and resources, the partnership as a whole was able not only to collect data but also contribute to the development of the skills, relationships, and organizational capacity that help a partner country like Laos better serve and care for its people.

To learn more about the evaluation, download the paper (Phengxay et al, 2015) or visit the journal’s website.

PIVI Partners with Green Cross to Provide More than 183,000 Doses of Flu Vaccine to Morocco and Armenia

Green Cross flu vaccine on ice and ready for use.

2014 was an exciting year for the Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction (PIVI) with new partners, expanded geographic reach, and more than 980,000 seasonal flu vaccines provided to high-risk populations, including pregnant women and healthcare workers, in four countries. Much of the growth of the partnership came during the last few months of the year thanks to a generous donation from a new contributing partner, South Korean biopharmaceutical company Green Cross.

The PIVI team at The Task Force for Global Health (TFGH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was introduced to Green Cross by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in early fall 2014. As PIVI stakeholders, PAHO and its Revolving Fund played a key role in facilitating PIVI’s work in Nicaragua earlier in 2014. PAHO learned that Green Cross had doses of seasonal flu vaccine available to donate and connected the TFGH/CDC team to the biopharmaceutical company. Green Cross agreed to provide the doses and become a PIVI contributing partner.

With a new manufacturer on board, the TFGH/CDC team began working to identify two low- or middle-income countries who would be able to use the Green Cross vaccine prior to the start of the Northern Hemisphere flu season. Because of the short timeline between securing the donation from Green Cross (October) and getting the vaccine into arms before the start of the flu season (December/January), the focus was on selecting countries that had existing seasonal influenza vaccination campaigns. Countries with existing vaccination campaign infrastructure are equipped to effectively accept, manage, and distribute the vaccine. Working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO), CDC recommended Morocco and Armenia as countries interested in expanding their limited seasonal influenza vaccine use to provide greater coverage for high-risk populations.

When approached with the opportunity, the Ministries of Health of Morocco and Armenia were eager to join the partnership. According to the WHO, respiratory disease was the third leading cause of death in lower-middle income countries worldwide in 2012.* In Morocco and Armenia, both classified by the World Bank as lower-middle income countries, the most recent death rates for respiratory infections were 25.7 and 33.9 per 100,000 respectively.** As a result, the contribution of more than 183,000 doses of Green Cross flu vaccine provided a welcome boost to both countries’ existing efforts to combat seasonal influenza.

Cold-chain transport ensured that the Green Cross vaccine stayed fresh as it traveled to its various destinations across Morocco.

With the country partners selected, it was time to arrange for transport: the vaccine doses were stored in South Korea and needed to arrive in Morocco and Armenia as soon as possible in order to be administered prior to the start of the upcoming flu season. As the PIVI team at TFGH worked with Green Cross to coordinate the logistics for the vaccine shipments (consisting of 123,310 doses for Morocco and 60,000 doses for Armenia), the PIVI team at CDC worked with the Ministries of Health in Morocco and Armenia as well as their respective WHO Regional Offices to confirm each country’s cold chain capabilities and review their plans for vaccine distribution.

The WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts’ (SAGE) recommends focusing influenza vaccination on five high-risk groups in particular: pregnant women, healthcare workers, children, the elderly, and those with underlying health conditions (e.g. diabetes). Both Morocco and Armenia had these groups in mind when planning for the distribution of the Green Cross vaccine. The Ministry of Health (MoH) in Morocco partnered with a number of nongovernmental organizations to leverage World Diabetes Day (November 14) programming. As a result, the MoH was able to vaccinate a large number of people with diabetes who were already gathered for diabetes-related health testing and education. The Moroccan MoH also vaccinated healthcare workers, elderly people, and medical and nursing students. For some of the students, this provided the opportunity to be vaccinated themselves as well as to practice giving vaccinations.

A nurse in Morocco gives another nurse her flu shot.

In Morocco, healthcare workers like these nurses both gave and received flu shots.

The MoH in Armenia focused vaccination efforts on pregnant women, children in orphanages, intensive care unit patients, elderly people, and military personnel. Given that the MoH in Armenia received their shipments of Green Cross vaccine in mid-December and had only a few short weeks to distribute the vaccine before the flu season began, they chose to focus on the military, with its solid infrastructure and communication channels. This was an excellent way to ensure the most effective distribution of the vaccine in a short period of time.

Despite the tight timeline – just a few short months between learning of availability of the vaccine to putting in place an effective vaccination campaign – both Morocco and Armenia were able to successfully utilize the vaccine from Green Cross prior to the start of the flu season. And those were not the only country partners to benefit from the generosity of PIVI contributing partners in 2014. Thanks to contributions of vaccine, ancillary supplies, and funds from Walgreens, ASD Healthcare, bioCSL, and Becton, Dickinson and Company, PIVI was able to provide a combined total of nearly 800,000 doses of seasonal flu vaccine to Laos and Nicaragua. In the three years PIVI has been facilitating influenza vaccine contributions, more than 1.54 million doses have been distributed to the country partners. More details from Morocco and Armenia, as well as an update on the 2014 contributions to Laos and Nicaragua, will be available in the coming months as PIVI continues to work with each country’s MoH to evaluate their respective vaccination campaigns.

*WHO Fact Sheet, The Top 10 causes of death: The 10 leading causes of death by country income group (2012); retrieved from

**WHO Estimated Total Deaths (‘000), by cause, sex, and WHO Member State, 2008(a); retrieved from

Vaccinated against influenza for the first time

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.

Flu shot for pregnant woman in LPB

Flu shot for pregnant woman in LPB

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.

Laos and Nicaragua Expand Flu Protection with Help from CDC and Growing Partnership


Woman receiving a flu shot.

Woman receiving a flu shot.

As flu season is wrapping up in the United States, other parts of the world are bracing for the start of their seasons. Thanks to CDC guidance and donations from Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction (PIVI), this year Laos is vaccinating against seasonal influenza for the third year running, and Nicaragua is vaccinating pregnant women against flu for the second year in a row.

Decades of experience have shown that flu vaccine is a cost-effective way to help prevent flu-related illness, hospitalization and death, missed school, and missed work. Despite the benefits of flu vaccination however, establishing a vaccination program remains out of reach for many lower-income countries. This was the case for Laos, which two years ago (2012) offered seasonal flu vaccine through a national program for the first time with help from PIVI. Nicaragua is one of many countries that already offered flu vaccine to some, but with PIVI’s help this year and last, has been able to expand vaccination to include more pregnant women.

This year’s PIVI donors include returning partner bioCSL who donated more than three quarters of a million doses of vaccine this year, Walgreens Company, and Amerisource Bergen (a new partner) which together donated flu vaccine and funds to purchase vaccine at reduced cost through the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) Revolving Fund. In addition, returning partner Becton Dickinson and Company (BD) donated ancillary supplies including syringes and safety boxes. The Partnership’s mission is supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundationawarded in 2013.

Over the next few weeks, the Laos Ministry of Health’s National Immunization Program will administer vaccine to pregnant women, health care and essential government workers, and people 50 years and older. The vaccine will be distributed throughout the country, primarily via provincial and district hospitals, and will be marked with an official launch in Luang Prabang, Laos on April 30.

For some, influenza (flu) infection opens the door to pneumonia and other life-threatening complications.  Pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions such as asthma and diabetes are at high risk of developing complications if they get the flu. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine every year. Most developed countries routinely invest in making flu vaccine widely available each season through a national vaccination program. Vaccination programs remain out of reach for many lower-income countries, despite the benefits of vaccination.

In Nicaragua, the donated flu vaccine is supplementing other vaccine purchased by the Government of Nicaragua. Nicaragua usually targets their flu vaccine supplies to children and health care workers; this is the second year that Nicaragua has expanded their seasonal flu vaccination program to vaccinate more pregnant women. Flu vaccine is being distributed via the country’s already-established network of flu vaccination sites.

Apart from this year’s donors, other PIVI partners have been instrumental in this season’s successful donation, shipment and administration of flu vaccine. A significant change this year has been the coordination of the PIVI program by the Task Force for Global Health’s Center for Vaccine Equity.

PIVI began as a pilot project in 2011 and reached its first milestone in 2012, when Laos Ministry of Health carried out their first-ever seasonal flu vaccination program with a flu vaccine donation from Walgreens Company. In 2013, Australia-based bioCSL, U.S. Department of Defense’s Air Force, and BD joined Walgreens as donating partners and together donated vaccine and supplies that UPS helped to ship at reduced cost for a second year in a row. Donors collaborated with the Ministries of Health of Laos and Nicaragua and together succeeded in providing flu vaccine for the countries’ respective target populations before their flu seasons picked up.

In fall of 2012 the PIVI project was honored by CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden with the CDC Director’s Award for Innovation. A year later, the project was awarded a grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and shortly after, the Global Health Task Force’s Center for Vaccine Equity joined the fold as secretariat and the project was officially named the Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction.

PIVI’s mission is to assist developing countries in introducing seasonal influenza vaccines and implementing sustainable programs to protect high-risk individuals from morbidity and mortality associated with annual influenza epidemics.

The Partnership plays a pivotal role by supplying donated influenza vaccine and supplies to countries that lack those resources but that are otherwise ready to establish or expand their influenza vaccination programs. Country-led program evaluation and sustainability planning also are key components of the partnership’s mission.

Influenza is a global disease that adversely impacts the health of millions of people around the world each year. PIVI’s long-term vision is for everyone around the world – and especially high-risk persons – to have equitable access to seasonal influenza vaccine. Collaborating with PIVI allows eligible countries to learn how to manage a seasonal flu vaccination program, and to build to their evidence base and attract additional resources. Ultimately, the sustainability plan for each program will vary from country to country, ranging from country-owned manufacturing capacity to negotiation of pricing between vaccine manufacturer and country.

Flu vaccination is taking place in Nicaragua during Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA). VWA is part of a wider global initiative called World Immunization Week, recognized by all regions of the World Health Organization.

PIVI’s mission is bolstered by the different but complementary work of other key organizations, including the WHO Global Action Plan for Influenza Vaccines-II, the United States’ influenza vaccine development program managed by Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI).

PIVI’s mission also is aligned with CDC Influenza Division’s strategic international plan, which is focused on creating an evidence base for influenza control and prevention globally; communicating influenza-associated risks; and decreasing the global impact of influenza through provision of technical assistance and training and contributions to capacity building and research.

As a PIVI partner, CDC provides technical expertise and guidance on implementation of flu vaccination programs, and also facilitates communication among partners. Outside of PIVI, CDC Influenza Division’s International Program assists countries with setting up surveillance and laboratory systems for influenza.

Flu Shots Protect Expecting Mothers and Their Newborns

Pregnant women are at high risk of developing serious complications if they get the flu. Changes in the immune system, heart and lung functions during pregnancy make pregnant women more likely to get seriously ill if they get the flu. Severe illness in a pregnant mother can be dangerous to her fetus because it increases the chances for serious problems such as premature labor and delivery. This is why CDC recommends that pregnant women get an annual flu vaccine. Pregnant women can be vaccinated against flu during any trimester of their pregnancy. Getting vaccinated protects the pregnant woman from the flu, and can pass protective antibodies to her unborn baby; those antibodies help protect the baby from influenza for up six months after he or she is born. Those first six months of life are a vulnerable time; babies can’t be vaccinated against influenza until they are six months old, so protection passed from mom when she is vaccinated during pregnancy is one way to ensure baby’s health during those first months of life.

Last year, when pregnant women in Laos got a flu vaccine, the nurse gave each woman a card and asked her to bring it back to the clinic when she was ready to deliver her baby. Weeks or months later, when expecting mothers came back with their cards and delivered their babies, the babies’ weights were recorded alongside the mothers’ influenza vaccination status. In a country where medical records are scarce and often incomplete, this information is providing Laos with important insight regarding the value of seasonal influenza vaccination to the health of mothers and babies. Notably, similar efforts in other countries have shown that influenza vaccination during pregnancy has been correlated with higher birth weights.


bioCSL Participates in Innovative Public-Private Collaboration -More than 700,000 Doses of Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Donated

bioCSL Press Release

King of Prussia, PA — 04/28/2014

4.23 - Vientiane - MCH - waiting in linebioCSL, formerly CSL Biotherapies, has announced the donation of more than 700,000 doses of its influenza vaccine to the Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction, an innovative program – spearheaded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Task Force for Global Health (TFGH) – that helps low- and middle-income countries reduce annual morbidity and mortality from influenza. The program helps eligible countries create or expand public vaccination program infrastructures within their borders. This year marks the second consecutive year that bioCSL has donated vaccine to the program. “Influenza is a common viral infection that can sometimes result in serious complications,” said Marie Mazur, President, bioCSL Inc. “For this reason, it is critical that influenza vaccine is made available to everyone—especially in areas of the world where robust healthcare systems are not in place to facilitate the acquisition and distribution of vaccine. The Partnership is actively addressing this need on a large scale, and we at bioCSL are pleased to be partnering in this effort for the second year in a row by making a significant donation of our vaccine.” Influenza, commonly called “the flu,” causes upwards of 49,000 deaths annually in the U.S., and tens of thousands more around the world, mostly among high risk populations, which can include the elderly, those with pre-existing diseases such as asthma and diabetes, and pregnant women. It is also a frequent cause of hospitalizations due to pneumonia and other life-threatening complications. According to the CDC, research has shown that getting vaccinated is the best way for each individual to reduce the threat of contracting influenza.

The Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction began as a pilot program in Laos in 2011, winning the CDC Director’s Award for Innovation, and has expanded each year since, adding new partners, new countries and additional patient populations. With the effort’s significant impact, several other countries have made requests to participate. “This year’s vaccination campaign in Laos would not be possible without the flu vaccine donations provided by private organizations,” said Dr. Joseph Bresee, Chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch in CDC’s Influenza Division. “Private donors’ contributions allow eligible countries to establish and expand their own annual influenza vaccination programs with guidance from CDC, Task Force for Global Health, World Health Organization and other public health partners. In short, vaccine donations are absolutely critical to the mission.” According to the CDC, influenza outbreaks tend to follow regular seasonal patterns, which vary in different geographies. Flu season in Laos begins approximately in June, making the bioCSL donation especially timely.

About bioCSL Inc. bioCSL Inc., located in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, is the United States headquarters of bioCSL. Parent company, CSL Limited, has manufactured influenza vaccine in its Melbourne, Australia, facility since 1968. CSL Limited has made a $60 million (U.S.D.) investment in plant and equipment to double capacity at its Melbourne facility, making it one of the largest vaccine manufacturing facilities in the world. CSL-branded influenza vaccines are approved in 28 countries. At bioCSL Inc., delivering vaccines is our mission, protecting lives our passion. The CSL Group, which also includes CSL Research & Development, CSL Plasma, and CSL Behring, has more than 11,000 employees globally and operates in 26 countries around the world.


Media Contacts: Sheila A. Burke, Director, Communications & Public Relations Worldwide Commercial Operations CSL Behring 610-290-7403 (o)

Lao PDR to Immunize more than 760,000 people against seasonal influenza

Lao women awaiting influenza vaccination

Lao women awaiting influenza vaccination

April 27, 2014

On April 30th, the Ministry of Health in Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) will roll out the 2014 campaign to immunize more than 760,000 people against seasonal influenza. Pregnant women are the primary focus of the effort. This represents the first activity of the Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction (PIVI), which began as a 2012 collaboration between the Government of Lao PDR, Walgreens Company, UPS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO) to support introduction of seasonal influenza vaccination in low and middle income countries.  Pregnant women are targeted because they have a high risk of severe complications of influenza if they get infected, and there is compelling evidence that influenza vaccination during pregnancy can have positive health effect both on the woman and her baby.  As a direct result of the partners’ contributions, Lao PDR conducted its first-ever seasonal influenza vaccination campaign in the spring of 2012, administering 355,000 doses of influenza vaccine. The following year, Nicaragua joined the project and Walgreens, UPS, bioCSL, Becton Dickinson and Company, and the U.S. Air Force each donated resources.

In the Fall of 2013 the Task Force for Global Health and CDC formally launched the Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction (PIVI).  More than 70 attendees came to Atlanta to learn and to share about the Partnership, to explore what might be possible with the resources represented in the room.   What was possible in Spring 2014 was that bioCSL donated 763,000 doses of influenza vaccine and Becton Dickinson donated needles.  Vaccine and needles were shipped to Vientiane from bioCSL’s facility in Germany – via plane to Bangkok and overland from there.

In addition, financial contributions from Walgreens and ASD Healthcare enabled provision of more than 30,000 doses of influenza vaccine for pregnant women in Nicaragua.  Unfortunately, donations were not sufficient to support El Salvador and Cote d’Ivoire this year (two additional new country partners), as had been planned.  In early summer a strategic advisory group will meet to explore and define the Partnership’s future direction.

The enthusiasm and support of partners have made the first several months of PIVI  exciting and we look forward to continuing and expanding the program, while gathering information on the impact of the program and assisting participating countries in developing plans for sustainability.