Ancillary benefits of seasonal influenza vaccination in middle-income countries

While seasonal influenza vaccines (SIV) remain the best method to prevent influenza-associated illnesses, implementing SIV programs may benefit countries beyond disease reduction, strengthening health systems and national immunization programs, or conversely, introduce new challenges. Few studies have examined perceived impacts of SIV introduction beyond disease reduction on health systems; understanding such impacts will be particularly salient in the context of COVID-19 vaccine introduction. We collected qualitative data from key informants-Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction (PIVI) contacts in six middle-income PIVI vaccine recipient countries-to understand perceptions of ancillary benefits and challenges from SIV implementation. Respondents reported benefits associated with SIV introduction, including improved attitudes to SIV among risk groups (characterized by increased demand) and perceptions that SIV introduction improved relationships with other ministries and collaboration with mass media. Challenges included sustaining investment in SIV programs, as vaccine supply did not always meet coverage goals, and managing SIV campaigns.