Independent advisory group reviews immunization developments in Europe
The independent European Technical Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (ETAGE) provides independent review and expert technical input to WHO/Europe’s vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization programme (VPI).
At its 17th meeting, held on 26–27 October 2017, ETAGE considered progress towards the achievement of European Vaccine Action Plan 2015–2020 (EVAP) goals, including efforts to control hepatitis B, increase the transparency of vaccine prices, address vaccine shortages and strengthen evidence-based decision-making related to national immunization policies and schedules.
Following presentations by VPI and consultation with the attending chairs of national immunization technical advisory groups (NITAGs), ETAGE:
- noted that the variation in prices paid by Member States for paediatric vaccines has narrowed following work carried out by WHO on vaccine price transparency, and that several countries have been able to procure vaccines at lower prices than those previously paid;
- endorsed WHO efforts to help countries respond to vaccine shortages more rapidly;
- endorsed the establishment of a regional network of NITAGs;
- underlined the importance of the upcoming EVAP midterm review, which will require timely submission of all necessary data by every Member State in the WHO European Region;
- approved the terms of reference for an ETAGE hepatitis B working group, supported the proposed approach to validate achievement of hepatitis B targets, and supported the allocation of resources to this work programme, anticipating that these efforts will contribute positively to achieving the EVAP goal of controlling hepatitis B infection; and
- approved the development of technical documents and guidelines in the areas of life-course immunization, financial sustainability, integration and equity, and financial sustainability of immunization programmes in middle-income countries.
ETAGE further discussed the possible establishment of an ETAGE working group on vaccine acceptance and demand to address increasingly apparent challenges in this area.
ETAGE is made up of independent experts in a range of fields, including epidemiology, clinical medicine, laboratory surveillance and psychology. In line with its terms of reference, the 17th annual meeting was the last for several veteran members (Dr Cornelia Betsch, Professor Paolo Bonanni, Dr Vladimir Chulanov and Dr Hans Houweling). For the coming period, ETAGE comprises its chair, Professor Adam Finn, and 6 additional members: Professor F. Nur Baran Aksakal, Dr Antonietta Filia, Professor Alenka Kraigher, Dr Federico Martinón-Torres, Professor Roman Prymula and Dr Ole Wichmann.
The 2017 annual meeting was also attended by Dr Kari Johansen, representing the Strategic Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE), and chairs of NITAGs from 43 Member States of the Region. This brought together the 3 tiers of independent advisory committees (global, regional and national) that contribute to evidence-based policy-making on immunization.
A full report of the meeting will be posted on the WHO/Europe website.