Outbreaks & Emergencies


Immunization programmes can (1) anticipate, prepare for, detect and rapidly respond to of vaccine-preventable and emerging disease outbreaks, and (2) ensure immunization service delivery during acute emergencies and among communities affected by conflict, disaster and humanitarian crisis.


Ensure preparation for, detection of and rapid, high-quality response to vaccine preventable disease outbreaks.

Establish timely and appropriate immunization services during emergencies, and in communities affected by conflict, disaster and humanitarian crisis.

Key areas of focus:

Coordination and integration: Strengthen coordination of implementation of vaccination and outbreak preparedness, detection and activities in the overall humanitarian response and in conformity with the International Health Regulations (2005) and health systems development programming, with the participation of all relevant stakeholders, including civil society, national and international organizations, humanitarian and development partners and the private sector.

Local capacity: Invest in and sustain local capacity and health systems to ensure timely detection of and response to vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks; identify and address the underlying causes of outbreaks; ensure that communities affected by outbreaks, other emergencies and humanitarian crises have continual access to a package of health services that includes immunization; and ensure that immunization recovery is embedded into outbreak and emergency response plans.

Comprehensive health response: Ensure that global, regional, national and subnational coordination and governance mechanisms effectively support equitable, transparent, timely decision-making on the allocation of essential supplies and vaccines and mobilization of trained human resources.

Integrated surveillance: Rebuild national, regional and local capacity for rapid, integrated surveillance of priority and emerging infectious diseases after an emergency or humanitarian event, maximizing opportunities to monitor and characterize multiple pathogens to ensure early detection of outbreaks. Strengthen integrated disease surveillance for epidemic-prone vaccine-preventable diseases to enhance prevention and response.

Tailored approaches and innovation: Develop, implement and evaluate innovative, tailored approaches and relevant frameworks and tools for safe, ethical, equitable vaccination of populations during outbreaks and in settings of humanitarian aid. Re-establish vaccination services after acute emergencies as part of broader early recovery and in line with disaster risk-reduction principles.

Community engagement: Prioritize two-way communication and engagement with communities and health workers during outbreaks and in settings of humanitarian aid to effectively limit health emergencies and outbreaks and promote participation in decision-making; ensure access to and use of services, and identify and fill unmet health needs.

Application of the core principles:

People-centred. Anticipation of, preparedness for and response to outbreaks and emergencies will include adaptation of interventions to meet all the needs of affected individuals, including mobile and displaced populations, and tailored interventions based on local knowledge. Mechanisms to ensure accountability to affected people should be in place for continual improvement of emergency vaccination interventions and transition to longer-term services.

Country-owned. National authorities will coordinate efforts to handle emergencies and outbreaks with local authorities, and services will be delivered by trained local staff and community mobilization networks. In crises in which national authorities do not coordinate provision of services, access to impartial, independently provided health care will be ensured.

Partnership-based. Partnerships will be built to prioritize and support capacity building, planning and leadership of local and national organizations for coordinated provision of health care, including vaccination, in such a way as to support existing health systems and surveillance strategies during outbreaks and other acute emergencies and also in settings of humanitarian aid.

Data-guided. Routine, systematic collection of disaggregated data will be promoted to target vaccination to the most vulnerable populations and those at risk of exclusion. Research and evaluation will be conducted to generate evidence on novel approaches to identifying outbreaks early and to deliver vaccination and health services during outbreaks, other acute emergencies and in settings of humanitarian aid.