The adult vaccination coverage in Europe and the barriers experienced during the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination strategies, in almost all European countries, underline the need for a thorough reflection about immunization programs in Europe. Therefore, the team of Prof. Paolo Bonanni – Department of Health Sciences, University of Florence, Florence (Italy), and Prof. Pierre Van Damme, Centre for the Evaluation of Vaccination, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Institute, University of Antwerp (Belgium) joined forces to create an Adult Immunization Board (AIB). This relies on years of experience with the multidisciplinary advisory boards: the Viral Hepatitis Prevention Board (VHPB, created in 1992) and the HPV Prevention And Control board (HPV Board, created in 2015).
About the Adult Immunization Board (AIB)
The purpose of the AIB is to contributing to the reduction of mortality and morbidity from vaccine-preventable infections and diseases in European adults by providing evidence-based guidance on key technical and strategic issues, and by monitoring the progress of adult immunization programs at European, country, and regional levels. In line with the VHPB and HPV board, the AIB organizes two live meetings per year. A first annual technical meeting to discuss specific technical aspects on adult immunization. A second yearly country meeting to discuss country / region-specific issues on adult immunization together with local experts.
A multi-disciplinary board of experts
The AIB is an independent, international, multidisciplinary group of ± 20 experts. The board aims to provide scientific evidence-based reflection and guidance on strategic, technical, and policy issues that will occur as we move forward in the implementation and optimization of European, national and sub-national adult immunization programs. The advisors are international experts in the field of Adult Immunization. Apart from academia and national health authorities, representatives from international organizations (like WHO/EURO) are invited to become members of the AIB board or join as observers. The board members set the strategy and define the actions of the AIB twice a year during an advisory board meeting the evening before the AIB meetings. Board members act in their personal capacity or as representatives of their institutions.
Source of support
The executive secretariat of the Adult Immunization Board benefits from being seated at the University of Antwerp and the University of Florence, where it has the infrastructure and administrative services of the universities at its disposal.
An unrestricted grant from Vaccines Europe support the AIB for its activities and meetings. Meanwhile meeting topics and editorial control of the output and website rests entirely with the executive secretariat of the Adult Immunization Board. The secretariat is working in compliance with all ethical rules of both universities.
For the Board and its advisors, strict operational and scientific independence is essential. Furthermore, Adult Immunization Board advisers and invited experts get only travel and subsistence reimbursed according to the Universities Rules, no honorary or other forms of remuneration are paid.
The work of the AIB is in line with the WHO Immunization Agenda 2030 (IA2030) – a global strategy to achieve the vision of a world where everyone, everywhere, at every age fully benefits from vaccines for good health and well-being.
Rather than focusing on achieving specific disease related goals, IA2030 aims to build back better after the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic by creating stronger and more resilient immunization systems and structures, based on the key pillars of immunization equity, life course immunization and tailored local solutions that address vaccination demand and acceptance in the population.