In April 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported the emergence of a new influenza (H1N1) virus which led to the first pandemic declaration of the 21st century. Most countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) had a national preparedness plan in place at this time; however, the vaccination component of such plans was largely undeveloped. Nevertheless, countries were able to capitalize on the infrastructure of their immunization programs and widespread experience utilizing the seasonal influenza vaccine to prepare rapidly, developing H1N1 vaccination plans targeting individuals with chronic disease, pregnant women and health care workers, among others. In LAC vaccine was acquired through three mechanisms: the Pan American Health Organization's Revolving Fund, direct manufacturer purchase, and WHO donations. Vaccine access was not equitable both in quantity of vaccine available and timeless of vaccine availability. As of December 2010, an estimated 145 million doses had been administered in LAC. Despite high regional coverage, there were large variations in coverage at the national level; pregnant women had the lowest coverage, despite their high risk for morbidity and mortality. The number of severe adverse events reported in LAC was similar to those expected with the seasonal influenza vaccine. Risk communication was one of the key challenges countries faced, mainly due to concerns and misinformation spread regarding vaccine safety. Countries and the international community need to learn from the experiences gained during H1N1 vaccination in order to be better prepared for the next pandemic.
- Latin America and the Caribbean
- Pandemic influenza (H1N1) vaccination
- Pandemic preparation
- Pandemic response