XX Meeting of the PAHO/WHO Technical Advisory Group on Vaccine-preventable Diseases convenes this week

Washington, DC, October 27, 2012 (PAHO/WHO). The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) on Vaccine-preventable Diseases will meet from October 17 to 19 in Washington, D.C., to study the current situation and decide on recommendations regarding vaccination against polio, rotavirus, whooping cough, measles, rubella, and cholera. It will also evaluate prospects for ramping up regional vaccine production capacity.

The theme of the meeting of this year is "Paving the Way in Immunization," which refers to the pioneering role that PAHO/WHO has played in the control, elimination, and eradication of vaccine-preventable diseases and the introduction of vaccines. The countries of the Americas, through their own programs and using their own resources, have become world leaders in the elimination of vaccine-preventable diseases such as smallpox, poliomyelitis, measles, and rubella, and they have also pioneered the introduction of new vaccines, including vaccines against rotavirus, pneumococcus, and human papillomavirus (HPV).

According to the preliminary agenda, the meeting will examine the bases for WHO recommendations regarding the use of polio vaccines in the Region; recommended ages for administering rotavirus vaccine; and a plan of action for participating in the Decade of Vaccines Collaboration—an overall strategy that seeks to extend the benefits of vaccines to all people everywhere in the world.

In addition, reports will be heard on the status of whooping cough in the Region; the emergency Plan of Action for Maintaining Measles, Rubella, and Congenital Rubella Syndrome Elimination in the Region of the Americas approved at PAHO's most recent Pan American Sanitary Conference; the immunization program in Haiti; and vaccination against cholera in the Region.

The inaugural session, which took place at PAHO Headquarters this Wednesday, October 17, and it was chaired by the president of TAG, Dr. Ciro de Quadros, the Deputy Director of PAHO, Dr. Jon Andrus, and Assistant Director of PAHO, Dr. Socorro Gross. Participants include, in addition the members of TAG, senior PAHO and WHO officials, spokespersons for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and representatives of countries of the Region, among others. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Group will provide PAHO and its Member States with a series of technical recommendations for moving forward in the field of vaccination.

The PAHO/WHO Technical Advisory Group on Vaccine-preventable Diseases was formed in 1985 to support the Organization in eradicating polio from the Americas. Since then, it has become the leading forum for promoting and discussing the goals and strategies for immunization programs in the Region. It meets every two years to review progress and examine the obstacles still faced by immunization programs, as well as to advise the Director of PAHO, Dr. Mirta Roses Periago, on matters related to immunization and implementation of the programs in the Region.

In addition to Dr. Quadros, the PAHO/WHO Technical Advisory Group on Vaccine-preventable Diseases includes Drs. Peter Figueroa (consultant, Ministry of Health, Kingston, Jamaica), Ramiro Guerrero Carvajal (Director, Research Center for Social Protection and Health Economics - PROESA), Akira Homma (Director, Immunobiological Technology Institute, Fiocruz, Brazil), Arlene King (Chief Medical Officer of Health, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Health Care, Canada), and José Ignacio Santos Preciado (Full Professor, Department of Experimental Medicine, UNAM School of Medicine, Mexico).

The Group also includes Drs. Ann Schuchat (Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United States), Jeanette Vega (Director, Center for Epidemiology and Health Policy, Chile), and Roger Glass (National Institutes of Health, United States).