2009 Influenza A/H1N1 Mass Vaccination Strategy: A Multinational Comparison

Publication Summary

Although the mass vaccination strategies employed by various countries adhered to the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), there were slight differences in how each country handled the first pandemic of the 21st century, declared by the WHO on June 11th, 2009. This report contains a multinational comparison of mass vaccination strategies, including the examination of vaccination priority groups, vaccine procurement and distribution methods, vaccine monitoring and data collection, and public heath communications. The goal of this report is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the 2009 pandemic influenza A/H1N1.

Key Points:

  • Many of the initial responses to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic went well but there are many lessons to be learned for future pandemic planning.
  • Greater and timelier access to influenza vaccines worldwide remains an ongoing challenge.
  • Initial target groups for vaccination should be well-defined and clearly understood by both the public and public health authorities.
  • Local health authorities must play a role in determining when to begin offering vaccines to persons outside the initial target groups, a decision made based on local situations.
  • Public health authorities should plan for a range of vaccine supply scenarios when supply is uncertain.
  • Factors that influenced vaccine uptake include a history of seasonal influenza vaccination, perceived risk of pandemic influenza, attitudes toward the pandemic vaccine, including vaccine efficacy and potential adverse effects, and importantly in many countries, uptake and recommendation by healthcare workers, particularly general physicians.
  • Vaccine should be administered by a combination of public and private providers.
  • New ways of dealing with crowds at mass vaccination clinics must be devised (i.e. invitations and/or appointments).
  • Vaccination strategies should continuously be revised as new information becomes available and situations change.
  • An integrated surveillance system should be developed for immunizations to aid in vaccine monitoring and data collection.
  • Our ability to communicate science to various audiences needs to be improved.