APEC member economies developed a comprehensive 10-year strategy in a bid to support the region’s routine vaccination effort and enhance the resilience and sustainability of immunization programs in the region through 2030.
The health and economic crises has disrupted global routine immunization programs. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 23 million children missed out on basic childhood vaccines. Another study found that 95 percent of economies in the Asia-Pacific region reported disruption to routine vaccination, with infancy and school-entry age vaccinations most impacted.
A vaccine task force was established last year, comprised of policymakers and private sector representatives, to work on vaccine-related issues, and to identify the best approach to immunization so member economies can better prevent infection and disease for all individuals.
“Vaccination is one of the world’s most important and cost-effective public health measures,” said Dr Michelle McConnell, Planning Group Chair of the APEC Life Sciences Innovation Forum – one of the groups that spearheaded the strategy. “While the priority now is to vaccinate as many people as possible against COVID, we still need to be able to provide robust immunization programs against other vaccine-preventable diseases so that COVID’s impact is not compounded by additional outbreaks.”
The APEC Action Plan on Vaccination across the Life-Course details key pillars for a successful immunization program and policy targets. With a collective goal that by 2030, all 21 APEC member economies will have implemented resilient and sustainable life-course immunization programs to protect the health and well-being of all populations. This will enable economies to achieve the WHO Immunization Agenda 2030.
“A life-course approach to vaccination requires that immunization schedules and access to vaccinations respond to an individual’s stage in life, their lifestyle and specific vulnerabilities or risks to infectious disease that they may face,” added Dr McConnell.
She further highlighted that taking a life-course approach will improve equity in health outcomes, reduce health burdens on social systems, lower treatment costs, and ease economic burdens such as illness-induced wage and productivity loss.
The document puts forth a series of recommendations that will help move the region forward toward resilient and sustainable immunization programs by:
- promoting recognition of the value of vaccination and vaccine innovation
- prioritizing access to and uptake of vaccination across the life-course
- building whole-of-government capacity in health security and pandemic preparedness
- strengthening confidence in vaccination and build resilient immunization program
- enabling investment and innovation in vaccine research and development, manufacturing and delivery
- accelerating regulatory harmonization for vaccines across APEC economies, and
- establishing proven and innovative mechanisms for sustainable immunization financing.
“It has never been more apparent that vaccination is critical to the strength of our economies,” said Dr Rebecca Sta Maria, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat. “APEC has a unique role to play in supporting the region’s effective trade, regulation and investment in vaccines to protect our population, both in the midst of COVID-19 and far beyond.”
The APEC Life Science Innovation Forum in collaboration with the APEC Health Working Group will also host the virtual 11th High Level Meeting on Health and the Economy on 24 August. The Health Working Group also contributed to the development of this action plan.
To learn more about APEC’s work stream on vaccination, visit this website. To access the ongoing webinar series “The Role of Vaccination in Maintaining Health and the Economy during Pandemics” please visit this link.
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