Publications & Reports

COVID-19 vaccine policy development in a sample of 44 countries - Key findings from a December 2021 survey of National Immunization Technical Advisory Groups (NITAGs).

Kahn AL, Steffen CA, Henaff L, MacDonald NE, Morgan C, Faden R, Olayinka F, Desai S
Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, World Health Organization, Avenue Appia 20, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland. Electronic address: [email protected]


National Immunization Technical Advisory Committees (NITAGs) are tasked with the responsibility of guiding ministries of health and national immunization programmes in their policy development processes. Many NITAGs rely on evidence reviewed by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Strategic Group of Experts(SAGE) on immunization and aim to adapt WHO’s recommendations to their respective contexts. This relationship took on exceptional importance since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which NITAGs have expressed a notable struggle to craft appropriate policies on population prioritization and vaccine utilization in the face of supply constraints and complex programmatic and delivery logistics. This online survey was conducted to assess the usefulness of the SAGE guidance documents for COVID-19 vaccine policies and to examine the persisting needs and challenges facing NITAGs. Results confirmed that SAGE recommendations concerning COVID-19 vaccines are easy to access, understand, and adapt. They have been found to be comprehensive and timely under the data and time constrained circumstances confronting SAGE. The Global NITAG Network (GNN) appears to be the most popular vehicle for addressing questions among high income countries, in contrast to lower income countries who favour WHO Country or Regional Offices. NITAGs place much value on interaction with other NITAGs, which requires facilitation and could benefit from increased opportunities, especially within regions. It is further noted that some NITAGs have had to tackle issues during the pandemic not typically considered by SAGE, such as supply chain logistics and vaccine demand. Learning from the COVID-19 experience offers opportunities to strengthen NITAGs and the pandemic recovery effort through the development of more concrete procedures and consideration of more varied types of data, including implementation effectiveness and uptake data. There is also an opportunity for an increasing involvement of Country Office WHO personnel to support NITAGs, while ensuring information and evidence needs of countries are adequately reflected in SAGE deliberations.

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  • Journal: Vaccine
  • Published: 16/01/2023
  • Volume: 41
  • Issue: 3
  • Pagination: 676-683