A life-course approach to immunisation

Programmes that support immunisation across the life course can improve population health and promote health system sustainability. International examples of best practice offer valuable lessons for implementing policies that support immunisation throughout life.

life-course immunisation policy


Immunisation is one of the most effective and cost-effective public health interventions available. Expanding immunisation programmes beyond childhood represents a valuable opportunity to prevent disease, support healthy ageing and reduce the burden on health systems.

A life-course approach requires that immunisation policies respond to an individual’s stage in life and specific risks to infection they may face. Young people, pregnant women, healthcare professionals, carers, people with chronic conditions, older people and other vulnerable groups can all benefit from immunisation programmes. In addition, high vaccination coverage will protect whole communities against disease through herd immunity and may offer sustainable protection against antimicrobial resistance.

While the benefits of taking this approach are beginning to be recognised around the world, development of policies that support access to immunisation beyond childhood has been slow and varies between countries. As a result, many of the goals set by the World Health Organization in the Global Vaccine Action Plan will not be achieved by 2020, and there is an urgent need to implement policies that promote vaccination coverage across the life course.

What we’ve achieved

HPP was commissioned by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) to research and develop a report and policy framework to support policymakers in implementing a life-course approach to immunisation.

Through desk research and interviews with experts in six countries (Australia, Brazil, France, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States), we identified five components of an effective life-course immunisation policy:

  • comprehensive immunisation programme that supports vaccine availability
  • public demand for immunisation
  • engaged healthcare professionals
  • multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral coordination
  • robust data informing policies and programmes.

We then assessed the progress of each country against the five components. The report includes 15 case studies and six country profiles to demonstrate examples of best practice and lessons which can be applied in other contexts.

The report is accompanied by an infographic. Both were launched in September 2019 to coincide with the European Commission’s Global Vaccination Summit.

Key partners and stakeholders

The report was developed in close consultation with the IFPMA Life-Course Immunization Working Group, which is formed of representatives from a number of IFPMA members.

Immunisation experts who were interviewed and provided feedback on the report:

  • Ray Borrow, Public Health England
  • Kelly Carulli, Audacious Inquiry
  • Catherine Heffernan, Immunisations and Vaccination Services, NHS England
  • James Daniel, US Department of Health and Human Services
  • Jean-Louis Koeck, MesVaccins
  • Lonnie Peterson, Washington State Department of Health
  • Jonathan Raviotta, University of Pittsburgh
  • Rosana Richtmann, Instituto de Infectologia Emilio Ribas
  • Rekah Shah, Pharmacy London
  • Shannon Stokley, Immunization Services Division, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Nicola Thorley, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
  • Richard Zimmerman, University of Pittsburgh
  • Members of the PhRMA committee

Project funding

This work was initiated and funded by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations.