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Vaccine. 2011 Nov 3;29(47):8477-82. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.08.048. Epub 2011 Aug 22.

Researching routine immunization-do we know what we don't know?

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  • 1The University of Melbourne, Australia.



The Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), launched in 1974, has developed and implemented a range of strategies and practices over the last three decades to ensure that children and adults receive the vaccines they need to help protect them against vaccine-preventable diseases. Many of these strategies have been implemented, resulting in immunization coverage exceeding 80% among children one year of age in many countries. Yet millions of infants remain under-immunized or unimmunized, particularly in poorer countries. In November 2009, a panel of external experts met at the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to review and identify areas of research required to strengthen routine service delivery in developing countries.


Research opportunities were identified utilizing presentations emphasizing existing research, gaps in knowledge and key questions. Panel members prioritized the topics, as did other meeting participants.


Several hundred research topics covering a wide range were identified by the panel members and participants. However there were relatively few topics for which there was a consensus that immediate investment in research is warranted. The panel identified 28 topics as priorities. 18 topics were identified as priorities by at least 50% of non-panel participants; of these, five were also identified as priorities by the panel. Research needs included identifying the best ways to increase coverage with existing vaccines and introduce new vaccines, integrate other services with immunizations, and finance immunization programmes.


There is an enormous range of research that could be undertaken to support routine immunization. However, implementation of strategic plans, rather than additional research will have the greatest impact on raising immunization coverage and preventing disease, disability, and death from vaccine-preventable diseases. The panel emphasized the importance of tying operational research to programmatic needs, with a focus on efforts to scale up proven best practices in each country, facilitating the full implementation of immunization strategies.

Copyright © 2011. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.

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