Laos Launches Seasonal Flu Vaccination Program During World Immunization Week
Vaccine Program Results from 6-year Collaboration between CDC and Laos PDR’s Ministry of Health
Flu season is nearly here for Lao People’s Democratic Republic (referred to as Lao PDR or Laos). On April 24, 2012, the Lao PDR Ministry of Health (Lao MOH) announced the beginning of their seasonal influenza vaccine program and began providing influenza vaccine to populations who are most at risk for complications due to influenza. The vaccine program is the result of six years of collaboration between the Lao MOH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO) to build public health capacity in the country. This year’s influenza vaccine – 375,000 doses - was donated directly to Lao MOH by Walgreens Company.
“This is a tremendous example of the potential value of partnerships between public health and private organizations,” said Dr. Joe Bresee, chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch in CDC’s Influenza Division. “Influenza vaccination is an important tool to reduce respiratory disease in Laos, particularly among people who are at risk for serious flu complications including pregnant women, the elderly, and people with chronic health conditions. We’re excited to be a part of the partnership that is making this happen.”
Lao PDR health officials launched its flu vaccination campaign in four provinces, designating the 375,000 doses of donated flu vaccine for people at high risk of flu complications including pregnant women, seniors, and people with chronic health conditions such as heart and lung disease.
“In recent years, going back to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, we’ve demonstrated the positive impact we can have by helping to increase flu vaccination coverage while working together with government and health officials at every level,” said Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness services and solutions. “As flu season winds down here in the United States, we’re pleased to provide vaccine to the people of Laos and to work with the Ministry of Health to help launch its seasonal flu vaccination effort.”
Laos has a population of more than 6.7 million people and during the 2009-2010 flu pandemic, more than 1 million people were vaccinated against 2009 H1N1; however, the country currently does not have an ongoing seasonal flu vaccination program.
“The Ministry of Health in Laos has worked collaboratively with CDC and WHO to establish the infrastructure to implement this seasonal flu vaccination campaign,” says Bresee.
The donated seasonal flu vaccine arrived in Laos in April and was shipped via UPS, which provided the air freight containers needed to keep the vaccine in cold storage throughout the duration of its five-day, 9,000 mile transport from the United States.