Lao PDR is an influenza vaccination success. As the first country to receive PIVI support, with a donation of 350,000 influenza vaccines by Walgreens Pharmacy, Lao PDR has done the critical work to create a sustainable country-wide influenza program.
Country-led research was key in setting up the evidence for building Lao PDR’s national influenza program. Given that vaccine safety is one of the most crucial factors driving vaccine acceptance, in 2012, Lao PDR studied and published Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) findings from its first influenza vaccination campaign. To drive vaccination in important target groups, public health officials studied a cohort of approximately 5,000 pregnant women between 2014-2015, and found that influenza vaccination was associated with a lower risk of preterm birth. Understanding these benefits of influenza vaccination not only helped convince stakeholders to support influenza efforts but also motivated more patients to become vaccinated.
In 2012, all influenza vaccines in Lao PDR were donated; by 2017 the government was allocating a budget toward their influenza program and procuring one-third of their influenza doses themselves, rather than relying on donations from others. Beginning in 2020, Lao PDR continued receiving technical support from PIVI, but no longer had the need for PIVI-donated influenza vaccines.
Years of strong evidence generation and partnership have helped create a country-led and country-financed influenza program, which has also been integrated into Lao PDR’s routine immunization program. This program not only protects the people of Laos from seasonal influenza but has also provided a stable platform for the delivery of other vaccines including COVID-19.