Background: In 2014 the Kenya National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (KENITAG) was asked by the Ministry of Health to provide an evidence-based recommendation on whether the seasonal influenza vaccine should be introduced into the national immunization program (NIP).
Methods: We reviewed KENITAG manuals, reports and meeting minutes generated between June 2014 and June 2016 in order to describe the process KENITAG used in arriving at that recommendation and the challenges encountered.
Results: KENITAG developed a recommendation framework to identify critical, important and noncritical data elements that would guide deliberations on the subject. Literature searches were conducted in several databases and the quality of scientific articles obtained was assessed using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme tool. There were significant gaps in knowledge on the national burden of influenza disease among key risk groups, i.e., pregnant women, individuals with co-morbidities, the elderly and health care workers. Insufficient funding and limited work force hindered KENITAG activities.
In 2016 KENITAG recommended introduction of the annual seasonal influenza vaccine among children 6 to 23 months of age. However, the recommendation was contingent on implementation of a pilot study to address gaps in local data on the socio-economic impact of influenza vaccination programs, strategies for vaccine delivery, and the impact of the vaccination program on the healthcare workforce and existing immunization program. KENITAG did not recommend the influenza vaccine for any other risk group due to lack of local burden of disease data.
Conclusion: Local data are a critical element in NITAG deliberations, however, where local data and in particular burden of disease data are lacking, there is need to adopt scientifically acceptable methods