PATH’s Center for Vaccine Innovation and Access

Advancing Maternal Immunization (AMI)

Making immunization available for pregnant mothers

Photo: PATH/Nguyen Ba Quang

Despite advances in child survival, infant deaths remain unacceptably high, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). More than 4.5 million children die before their first birthday each year.

Many of these deaths are due to infectious diseases that could be prevented by vaccinating mothers during pregnancy (maternal immunization)—an intervention not used to its full potential in many places, especially in LMICs where it is not widely available beyond maternal and newborn tetanus prevention.

Accelerating access to maternal immunization is key for protecting infants in situations when direct vaccination is not an effective option for them. To drive uptake of maternal immunization, viable pathways to enable informed decision-making and achieve rapid launch must be determined, particularly in resource-limited settings.

The Advancing Maternal Immunization (AMI) collaboration is bringing together diverse stakeholders from around the world and across immunization and maternal, newborn, and child health programs to identify such pathways and provide tools to help decision-makers, implementers, researchers, and others navigate that pathway successfully.

A shared pathway forward through the AMI collaboration

With a goal of improving infant health and survival, AMI’s current focus is on advancing maternal immunization against an important cause of infant deaths and illness—respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Maternal vaccines are currently being developed for RSV and could be available in a few years, underscoring a need to establish an environment poised for vaccine decision-making and introduction now.

Coordinated by PATH in collaboration with the World Health Organization, AMI is working toward this end by identifying gaps in the information required for efficient decision-making around maternal vaccines and their successful introduction, particularly in LMICs. From there, AMI will develop a consensus RSV maternal immunization roadmap for meeting priority needs for evidence generation and effective delivery.

Widespread coordination is needed to ensure that a RSV maternal vaccine can meet its full potential when available through effective integration into programs serving mothers and infants. In this light, AMI members hail from public and not-for profit organizations, as well as government and academic institutions. These thought leaders and technical experts provide a range of guidance and input—from understanding the disease and calculating the economic impacts of maternal immunization to administering the vaccine in the hardest to reach corners of the planet.

In addition to producing a comprehensive framework that the global health community will use to inform, coordinate, track, and contribute to advancing RSV maternal immunization, AMI’s work will be useful for informing maternal immunization efforts more broadly against other diseases as well.

Every mother deserves to see her child survive and thrive, no matter where she lives. AMI is an important step toward ensuring that mothers and infants benefit without delay once RSV maternal vaccines and other tools become available.

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