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Influenza in the Asia-Pacific region: Findings and recommendations from the Global Influenza Initiative


The fourth roundtable meeting of the Global Influenza Initiative (GII) was held in Hong Kong, China, in July 2015. An objective of this meeting was to gain a broader understanding of the epidemiology, surveillance, vaccination policies and programs, and obstacles to vaccination of influenza in the Asia-Pacific region through presentations of data from Australia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. As well as a need for improved levels of surveillance in some areas, a range of factors were identified that act as barriers to vaccination in some countries, including differences in climate and geography, logistical challenges, funding, lack of vaccine awareness and education, safety concerns, perceived lack of vaccine effectiveness, and lack of inclusion in national guidelines. From the presentations at the meeting, the GII discussed a number of recommendations for easing the burden of influenza and overcoming the current challenges in the Asia-Pacific region. These recommendations encompass the need to improve surveillance and availability of epidemiological data; the development and publication of national guidelines, where not currently available and/or that are in line with those proposed by the World Health Organization; the requirement for optimal timing of vaccination programs according to local or country-specific epidemiology; and calls for advocacy and government support of vaccination programs in order to improve availability and uptake and coverage. In conclusion, in addition to the varied epidemiology of seasonal influenza across this diverse region, there are a number of logistical and resourcing issues that present a challenge to the development of optimally effective vaccination strategies and that need to be overcome to improve access to and uptake of seasonal influenza vaccines. The GII has developed a number of recommendations to address these challenges and improve the control of influenza.

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