Seasonal influenza vaccination policies in the Eastern Mediterranean Region: Current status and the way forward

Abdinasir Abubakar, Nada Melhem, Mamunur Malik, Ghassan Dbaibo, Wasiq Mehmood Khan, Hassan Zaraket

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (SciVal)
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Background: The World Health Organization recommends annual influenza vaccination, especially in high-risk groups. Little is known about the adoption and implementation of influenza vaccination policies in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. Methods: A survey was distributed to country representatives at the ministries of health of the 22 countries of the Region between December 2016 and February 2017 to capture data on influenza immunization policies, recommendations, and practices in place. Results: Of the 20 countries that responded to the survey, 14 reported having influenza immunization policies during the 2015/2016 influenza season. All countries with an influenza immunization policy recommended vaccination for people with chronic medical conditions, healthcare workers and pilgrims. Two of the 20 countries did not target pregnant women. Eight countries used the northern hemisphere formulation, one used the southern hemisphere formulation and nine used both. Vaccination coverage was not monitored by all countries and for all target groups. Where reported, coverage of a number of target groups (healthcare workers, children) was generally low. Data on the burden of influenza and vaccine protection are scarce in the Region. Conclusions: Despite widespread policy recommendations on influenza vaccination, attaining high coverage rates remains a challenge in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. Tackling disparities in influenza vaccine accessibility and strengthening surveillance systems may increase influenza vaccine introduction and use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1601-1607
Number of pages7
Issue number12
Early online date19 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2019


  • Eastern Mediterranean Region
  • Influenza (human)
  • Policy
  • Surveys and questionnaires
  • Vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • veterinary(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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