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Strengthening Countries’ Capacity To Address Seasonal Influenza Vital To Preventing Emerging Pandemics

Scientific American: Preparing for the Next Influenza Pandemic
Joseph Bresee, pediatrician, associate director for global health in the Influenza Division at the CDC, and director of the Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction at the Task Force for Global Health; and Mark McKinlay, director of the Center for Vaccine Equity at the Task Force for Global Health

“…[To create t]he best defense against the ongoing burden of seasonal epidemics and the threat of the next pandemic, we need to solve two problems: a science problem and a capacity problem. The science problem is to create better influenza vaccines. … However, as the work to develop better vaccines progresses, it is essential that countries develop the programs to deliver and administer the vaccines. This is the ‘capacity’ problem, and while not glamorous, may be even more urgent. … The best foundation for an effective system to respond to the next pandemic is a robust, seasonal influenza immunization program in all countries. … Building routine seasonal influenza vaccination programs can provide a country the annual benefits of reducing their influenza burden, and also build critical capacity to protect their populations from the next pandemic or other emerging epidemic threats. This work needs to expand and accelerate in parallel with the development of better vaccines, given the unpredictable timing of the next great pandemic” (1/19).