Linked Community News February 2023

This newsletter is available in English, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian.

As we mark the second year of the Linked Immunisation Action Network, we are pleased to share the first newsletter of the year with announcements about some exciting changes and activities. More information about the upcoming year can be found in this annual letter from Linked network leadership. We’ve also compiled a short one-minute video showcasing our achievements from 2022!

Linked is expanding – in more ways than one. First, we are expanding our scope and adding a new set of countries to the network. While our network was previously focused on facilitating learning among MICs that had transitioned from Gavi support (former-Gavi countries), we are now expanding to include MICs which have never been eligible for Gavi support. These countries will participate in cross-country learning focused on introduction of the HPV, PCV, and Rotavirus vaccines into their national immunisation schedules.

For more information about the countries in the Linked network, check out the country profiles and dashboards on our website, which track country progress toward strong, sustainable immunisation programmes.

As part of the network expansion, we are also pleased to announce that a new partner will be joining the Linked Network Facilitation team, joining Curatio International Foundation, the Institute for Health Policy, and Results for Development.
Confíanza en las Vacunas Latinoamérica (ConfíaLA) will facilitate cross-country learning among MICs in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region. ConfíaLA is an international immunisation network led by ISALUD University, in strategic partnership with the Brazilian Society of Immunizations (SBIm) and the Argentine Society of Vaccinology and Epidemiology (SAVE).

Meanwhile, we have produced a number of resources that capture lessons from our cross-country learning exchanges. See the brief outlining key Linked resources that cover topics such as strengthening health worker capacity, increasing access to key missing vaccines, and implementing electronic immunisation registries. Additionally, check out our new brief which compiles experiences from Asia Pacific countries, covering the primary stressors to immunisation programs during the COVID-19 pandemic, mitigation strategies, and approaches to clear backlogs and build back better. We encourage immunisation stakeholders to draw upon these resources to learn about how other countries are addressing critical barriers to sustainability, equity, and new vaccine introduction.

Warm regards,

Your Linked Network Facilitation Team from Curatio International Foundation (Tbilisi), the Institute for Health Policy (Colombo), and Results for Development (Washington, DC)


New Brief with Lessons for Clearing Immunisation Backlogs and Building Back Better in the Wake of Covid-19
In December, stakeholders from Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam came together to discuss the primary stressors to immunisation programs during the COVID-19 pandemic, successful mitigation strategies, andpromising practices to clear immunisation backlogs that have built up over the last two years while continuing to provide routine immunisation services. Our new brief outlines the promising strategies, good practices, and lessons learnedthat have emerged and how to continue them to ensure that children are not missed. Click to readabout addressing service delivery disruptions, human resource challenges, community perceptions, and more.

Can Financial and Non-financial Incentives Strengthen Immunisation Programme Performance?
The Linked Immunisation Action Network (Linked) hosted a virtual learning exchange with middle-income countries from the European Region to discuss the use of financial and non-financial incentives to increase immunisation coverage. A presentation on the most recent global evidence on incentives was followed by presentations on Armenia’s experience introducing a pay-for-performance mechanism and Georgia’s upcoming primary health care reforms which will introduce financial and non-financial incentives. Access the webinar materials and key takeaways blog here.

New Brief Outlines Linked Resourcesto Support Countries to Address Barriers to Sustainability, Equity, and New Vaccine Introduction
Linked designs and employs collaborative learning approaches that bring together country practitioners, technical experts, and immunisation partners to identify common immunisation programme challenges and the transformative strategies that will lead to greater resilience, equity, and sustainability. See the brief outlining key Linked resources that covers topics such as strengthening health worker capacity, increasing access to key missing vaccines, and implementing electronic immunisation registries. We encourage immunisation stakeholders to draw upon these resources to learn about how other countries are addressing critical barriers to sustainability, equity, and new vaccine introduction.

Annual Letter from Linked Network Leadership Highlights Upcoming Activitiesfor Year Ahead
This annual letter from Linked network leadership summarizes exciting updates and activities for the year ahead. Don’t miss announcements on a new partnership, expanded network membership, upcoming learning exchanges, and more – check out the annual letter here. Also, don’t miss this new one-minute video showcasing everything we accomplished together last year.


Communicating with Caregivers About the Human Papillomavirus Vaccination
WHO has launched new resources designed to equip health workers (HWs) with knowledge, skills, and confidence to help them in their role to recommend the HPV vaccine. Available resources include a training module that provides a structured approach to assist HWs when communicating with caregivers about HPV vaccination and a supplemental facilitator’s guide that provides detailed explanations, resources, guidance, and training activities to support those implementing the training.

WHO Updates Recommendations on HPV Vaccination Schedule
In a position paper published at the end of December, WHO updated its recommendations for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. Of particular note, the paper states that a single-dose schedule, referred to as an alternative, off-label single-dose schedule, can provide a comparable efficacy and durability of protection to a two-dose regimen. The optimization of the HPV schedule is expected to improve access to the vaccine, offering countries the opportunity to expand the number of girls who can be vaccinated and alleviating the burden of the often complicated and costly follow-up required to complete the vaccination series. Learn more about the revised recommendations here.

Recovering from the Unprecedented Backsliding in Immunization Coverage: Learnings from Country Programming in Five Countries through the Past Two Years of COVID-19 Pandemic Disruptions
This article, authored by Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), Global Vaccines Delivery Team and Country Offices, spotlights examples of strategies used by five countries—Cambodia, Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda—who have exhibited exemplar performance in strengthening routine immunisation programmes and restored lost coverage levels in the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. These lessons can be helpful for countries seeking to maintain, restore, and strengthen their immunisation services and catch up missed children in the context of pandemic recovery.

Medical Specialists’ Attitudes and Practices Towards Childhood Vaccination: A Qualitative Study in Armenia
Childhood vaccination rates in Armenia are high; however, anecdotal evidence suggests that some health workers may advise against vaccination. This study used the WHO Tailoring Immunisation Programmes approach to investigate the childhood vaccination practices of medical specialists in Armenia and their perceived barriers and drivers to positive practices.

Improving Effective Coverage in Health: Do Financial Incentives Work?
Country stakeholders engaged in health and immunisation financing can learn important lessons and experiences from the rollout of performance-based financing (PBF) initiatives over the past decade. This recent World Bank policy report focuses on the best performance-based financing policies and reforms to support effective coverage.

Country Experiences with COVID-19 Vaccination: Mainstreaming & Integration with Immunisation Programme Services and PHC
This reference guide and presentation from WHO contains country examples with good practices and innovations to mainstream and integrate Covid-19 vaccination, including co-delivery with routine vaccinations and other services. These country experiences can be used to identify potential solutions to address challenges and bottlenecks to scaling up Covid-19 vaccinations.

Design, Development, and Deployment of an Electronic Immunisation Registry: Experiences From Vietnam, Tanzania, and Zambia
There is growing interest among low- and middle-income countries to introduce electronic immunisation registries (EIRs) that capture individual-level vaccine data. This study compares the design, development, and deployment of EIRs in Vietnam, Tanzania, and Zambia with the aim to provide practical, operational insights to country decision-makers and partners who are considering or are in the process of implementing an EIR.

Factors Influencing the Prioritization of Vaccines by Policymakers in Low- and Middle-income Countries: A Scoping Review
Low- and Middle-income Countries (LMICs) have to make difficult choices on which vaccines to prioritize for introduction while considering a wide range of factors such as disease burden, vaccine impact, vaccine characteristics, financing and health care infrastructures, whilst adapting to each country’s specific contexts. This scoping review examined the factors that influence decision-making among policymakers for the introduction of new vaccines in LMICs.


Upcoming Webinar Series on Life Course and Integration
A three-part webinar series, organized by the IA2030 Working Group for Life Course and Integration, will showcase examples from immunisation programmes that are successfully working toward an integrated life course approach to vaccination. Register for any of the virtual sessions here.

  • Webinar 1: Implementing an integrated, life course approach to vaccination – what does this mean and where is the value?
    Date: 22 February 2023, 3pm CET
  • Webinar 2: Health worker vaccination programmes; opportunities beyond Covid
    Date: 8 March 2023, 3pm CET
  • Webinar 3: Catch-up vaccination – an ongoing safety net to reduce immunity gaps across the life course
    Date: TBC March/Apr 2023, 3pm CET

Effective Interventions to Increase Routine Childhood Immunisation in LMICs
In 2021, 25 million children missed out on essential vaccines, with childhood immunisation falling for the second consecutive year. Increasing routine childhood immunisation in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) is an urgent challenge. In this webinar, 3ie presented findings on the best available evidence on effective interventions for improving routine child immunisation outcomes and addressing the barriers related to access, delivery or demand in LMICs.

Supply Chain Guidance and Strategies to Reach Under-served Zero-dose Communities
This webinar provided an overview of evidence-based guidance and effective supply chain strategies that contribute to reaching under-served populations and zero-dose communities. In this session, participants learned the principles of designing and implementing reliable and resilient supply chains that enable equitable immunisation services. The webinar recording is available in English, French, and Spanish and the presentation is available in English.


Azerbaijan Boosts its Vaccine Cold Chain System
To strengthen Azerbaijan’s national vaccine cold chain system, the WHO Country Office in Azerbaijan has in the past year facilitated the procurement of cold chain equipment, including fridges and vaccine carriers, and trained local health-care staff on the use of the equipment and what procedures to initiate in different scenarios. Learn more about how Azerbaijan strengthened their cold chain system and provided health workers with the information they need.

How Two Nurses in Lao PDR Set Out to Immunise Their Province’s Zero-dose Kids
When a measles outbreak exposed just how frayed Savannakhet province’s immunisation safety net had grown during the COVID-19 pandemic, Nurses Manokra Khamsai and Kaysone Oum got to work mending it.

Reaching Zero-dose Children with Solar Power in Kenya
Health centers and dispensaries located across three remote villages in Kenya have struggled to provide immunisation services for lack of cold chain capacity. Now these facilities are leveraging a solar powered freezer to reach the hard-to-reach child population.

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