Washington, DC, December 10, 2009 (PAHO)—All countries in the world, and in particular those of the Region of the Americas, have faced the so-called "first wave" of the influenza A(H1N1) pandemic with highly effective, non-pharmaceutical measures such as education and social distancing; they have also used pharmaceutical measures (timely antiviral treatment).

The influenza A(H1N1) vaccine now provides a new means to fight the pandemic.  It was developed in record time under the leadership of the World Health Organization (WHO) and in coordination with manufacturers.

It was originally estimated that the annual vaccine production from 26 manufacturers would reach 5,000 million doses.

The most recent information from WHO estimates that the annual production will actually reach 3,000 million doses, due to the manufacturing process.  This total is equivalent to almost all the anticipated sales agreements of developed countries.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has been supporting countries of the Region in preparing for the use of the vaccine and, following the instructions of its Member States, has coordinated actions to guarantee wide and equitable access to the vaccine.

Countries of the Americas can obtain the vaccine through several mechanisms:

  1. by purchasing it directly from the manufacturers (Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and United States, among others);
  2. by receiving it from WHO through donations at global level; 7.5 million doses were distributed to 10 countries: Bolivia, Cuba, El Salvador Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Suriname;
  3. by purchasing it through the PAHO Revolving Fund; or
  4. through a combination of those mechanisms.
The great majority of countries in the Region availed themselves of the PAHO Revolving Fund for vaccine procurement, therefore ensuring vaccine access, quality, and timeliness at a single, lower price.

Based on the programming of country needs, the public tender was closed in September 2009, with an offer of 93 million doses of inactivated, non-adjuvanted influenza A(H1N1) vaccines, from three manufacturers.  However, the above-mentioned production problems have delayed the delivery dates.  It is now estimated that the vaccines will be delivered from the end of December 2009 until June 2010.  Distribution has been programmed according to seasonal influenza cycles in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

This number of doses is sufficient to satisfy the requirements established by Member States and to protect priority groups according to the recommendations of the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) and the PAHO Technical Advisory Group on vaccine-preventable diseases.

This vaccine, which follows the accepted security and efficacy criteria, is one more component of the integrated response to the pandemic. Ministries of Health of the Region have already identified the priority groups that will receive the vaccine, vaccine strategies, mechanisms for the timely detection and study of events supposedly attributable to vaccine or immunization (ESAVIs), the role of regulatory authorities, social communication activities, and mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating the impact of vaccine use.

PAHO will continue to bring information to the public regarding the available quantities of the vaccine, its quality, and delivery dates, in close collaboration with manufacturers, Ministries of Health of the Region, and WHO.


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