APACI regularly employs a consensus-building process to formulate statements addressing current regional issues related to influenza.
These statements are intended to assist national policy-makers and individual clinicians with influenza surveillance and management in accordance with current international recommendations and guidelines.
APACI encourages the discussion and exchange of information on influenza and its surveillance in the Asia-Pacific region.
APACI supports the WHO initiative in building laboratory capacity and surveillance in the Asia-Pacific region and urges governments to give high priority to the establishment and continued support of influenza surveillance systems.
APACI supports the current WHO recommendations that children at high risk of severe influenza illness should be immunised. With evidence emerging of high influenza-related hospitalisation rates in otherwise healthy young children, APACI strongly recommends that countries in the Asia-Pacific region collect further data on the disease burden of influenza and review their policies on vaccination in children.
Every effort should be made to reduce illnesses that increase the burden on healthcare systems, particularly influenza, which may mimic SARS coronavirus infection. APACI recommends increased influenza vaccination for the following groups: elderly, healthcare workers, those with chronic illnesses and the immunocompromised and travellers to areas with influenza activity.
APACI strongly encourages all countries to progress pandemic preparedness in line with the revised WHO global influenza preparedness plan.1 Some countries will need external assistance to achieve this. In particular, each country in the region should:
- strengthen current influenza surveillance in animals and humans for the timely identification of outbreaks
- control outbreaks in poultry to minimise transmission to humans and reduce the opportunities for a pandemic strain to emerge
- ensure sufficient laboratory capacity to detect influenza virus and to identify circulating influenza virus strains
- encourage annual influenza vaccination to reduce current and ongoing disease burden and to enhance pandemic vaccine production capacity and delivery
- consider the appropriate use of antiviral agents for influenza treatment and post-exposure prophylaxis, and encourage stockpiling for pandemic use.
Pandemic planning should go on regardless of the outcome of the current H5N1 avian influenza outbreak, as other avian strains may also lead to a pandemic.
APACI promotes influenza vaccination and stockpiling of antiviral agents as the key medical interventions for control of pandemic influenza.
- World Health Organization. WHO global influenza preparedness plan. The role of WHO and recommendations for national measures before and during pandemics.WHO/CDS/CSR/GIP/2005.5. Geneva: WHO; 2005.
APACI consensus statement: recommendation on the use of seasonal influenza vaccines in Asian and Pacific countries
Influenza is a serious disease that is an important cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, including tropical and subtropical countries.
Seasonal vaccination provides the best protection against influenza. It is safe and is the most effective measure to reduce the burden of disease. However, it is under-utilised in many countries in the Asian and Pacific regions, especially in tropical and subtropical zones.
APACI supports the WHO’s initiatives to increase seasonal influenza vaccine usage and strongly encourages countries:
- to recognise that high-quality influenza surveillance data are essential for assisting the implementation of influenza vaccine policy
- to introduce nationwide surveillance, especially in countries which cross tropical, subtropical and temperate climate zones
- to use existing and future seasonality data to determine the most appropriate time of the year for annual vaccination.
APACI also supports the WHO advice to use the most current seasonal influenza vaccine composition.