Seasonal Influenza Prevention and Control Progress in Latin America and the Caribbean in the Context of the Global Influenza Strategy and the COVID-19 Pandemic

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  • 1 Health Emergencies Department, Pan American Health Organization, Washington, District of Columbia;
  • 2 Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado;
  • 3 Department of Epidemiology, Colorado School of Public Health, Aurora, Colorado;
  • 4 Center for Global Health, Colorado School of Public Health, Aurora, Colorado;
  • 5 Comprehensive Family Immunization, Pan American Health Organization, Washington, District of Columbia;
  • 6 Department of Global Health, George Washington University Milken Institute of Public Health, Washington, District of Columbia;
  • 7 Division of Vaccines and Immunization, Center for Global Health, University of Colorado, Aurora, Colorado;
  • 8 Office of the Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland;
  • 9 Consejo de Salubridad General, Mexico City, Mexico;
  • 10 Influenza Division, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia

Each year in Latin America and the Caribbean, seasonal influenza is associated with an estimated 36,500 respiratory deaths and 400,000 hospitalizations. Since the 2009 influenza A(H1N1) pandemic, the Region has made significant advances in the prevention and control of seasonal influenza, including improved surveillance systems, burden estimates, and vaccination of at-risk groups. The Global Influenza Strategy 2019–2030 provides a framework to strengthen these advances. Against the backdrop of this new framework, the University of Colorado convened in October 2020 its Immunization Advisory Group of Experts to review and discuss current surveillance, prevention, and control strategies for seasonal influenza in Latin America and the Caribbean, also in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. This review identified five areas for action and made recommendations specific to each area. The Region should continue its efforts to strengthen surveillance and impact evaluations. Existing data on disease burden, seasonality patterns, and vaccination effectiveness should be used to inform decision-making at the country level as well as advocacy efforts for programmatic resources. Regional and country strategic plans should be prepared and include specific targets for 2030. Existing investments in influenza prevention and control, including for immunization programs, should be optimized. Finally, regional partnerships, such as the regional networks for syndromic surveillance and vaccine effectiveness evaluation (SARInet and REVELAC-i), should continue to play a critical role in continuous learning and standardization by sharing experiences and best practices among countries.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Andrea S. Vicari, Pan American Health Organization, 525 23rd Street NW, Washington, DC 20037. E-mail: vicarian@paho.org

Authors’ addresses: Andrea S. Vicari, Health Emergencies Department, Pan American Health Organization, Washington, DC, E-mail: vicarian@paho.org. Daniel Olson, Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO, E-mail: daniel.olson@cuanschutz.edu. Alba Vilajeliu and Alba Maria Ropero, Comprehensive Family Immunization, Pan American Health Organization, Washington, DC, E-mails: vilajelmar@paho.org and roperpal@paho.org. Jon K. Andrus, Department of Global Health, George Washington University Milken Institute of Public Health, Washington, DC, and Division of Vaccines and Immunization, Center for Global Health, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, E-mail: jon.andrus@cuanschutz.edu. David M. Morens, Office of the Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, E-mail: dmorens@niaid.nih.gov. José Ignacio Santos, Consejo de Salubridad General, Mexico City, Mexico, E-mail: joseignaciosantos56@gmail.com. Eduardo Azziz-Baumgartner, Influenza Division, CDC, Atlanta, GA, E-mail: eha9@cdc.gov. Stephen Berman, Center for Global Health, Colorado School of Public Health, Aurora, CO, E-mail: stephen.berman@cuanschutz.edu.

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