CDC Collaboration Improves Flu Vaccination Efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean

November 10, 2021—CDC is working with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to help inform flu vaccination efforts in Latin American and Caribbean countries. Findings from a collaborative effort have shown that flu causes a significant disease burden and associated health care costs in these countries and that flu vaccines can not only prevent flu-related illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths, they also can reduce flu-related health care costs. Documenting these benefits can be particularly important in countries with limited resources to support public health, as the data supports efforts to expand flu vaccine programs in these countries.

CDC has been supporting this international collaboration since 2013 by providing technical assistance and funding to the PAHO “Network for the Evaluation of Vaccine Effectiveness in Latin American and the Caribbean – influenza” or REVELAC-i. REVELAC-i systematically collects flu data via the flu surveillance systems in several countries, and it uses this data to produce flu vaccine effectiveness estimates. The CDC’s Influenza Division (ID) provides technical assistance to REVELAC-i by using this vaccine effectiveness data to evaluate the impact of countries’ existing vaccination programs.  REVELAC-i’s members currently work with government health officials from each participating Latin American and Caribbean country to collect and share data and to raise awareness of the burden of flu as well as the benefits of flu vaccination. REVELAC-i has developed dozens of scientific reports and publications to share its work and research findings. Through these efforts, REVELAC-i promotes government investment in flu vaccines and seeks to expand each country’s vaccine recommendations to increase coverage among the general population.

Data collection efforts from PAHO and supplemental partners have found that in the Americas influenza-associated respiratory mortality ranges between 41,007 and 71,710 people annually. Several countries in this region also have a high burden of flu-related deaths in children younger than 5 years and adults 65 years and older with pre-existing conditions.

REVELAC-i’s publications  highlight these burden data and help governments conduct public health interventions, such as targeting and tailoring flu vaccination efforts to groups at higher risk, including children. The publications also help document vaccine effectiveness in these higher risk populations. REVELAC-i’s work has supported development of evidence-based strategies to predict, prevent, detect, and respond to flu outbreaks. These efforts have helped decision makers in government prevents flu related disease and deaths.