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As SARS-CoV-2 disproportionately affects adults, the COVID-19 pandemic vaccine response will rely on adult immunisation infrastructures.


To assess adult immunisation programmes in World Health Organization (WHO) Member States.


We evaluated country reports from 2018 on adult immunisation programmes sent to WHO and UNICEF. We described existing programmes and used multivariable regression to identify independent factors associated with having them.


Of 194 WHO Member States, 120 (62%) reported having at least one adult immunisation programme. The Americas and Europe had the highest proportions of adult immunisation programmes, most commonly for hepatitis B and influenza vaccines (> 47% and > 91% of countries, respectively), while Africa and South-East Asia had the lowest proportions, with < 11% of countries reporting adult immunisation programmes for hepatitis B or influenza vaccines, and none for pneumococcal vaccines. In bivariate analyses, high or upper-middle country income, introduction of new or underused vaccines, having achieved paediatric immunisation coverage goals and meeting National Immunisation Technical Advisory Groups basic functional indicators were significantly associated (p < 0.001) with having an adult immunisation programme. In multivariable analyses, the most strongly associated factor was country income, with high- or upper-middle-income countries significantly more likely to report having an adult immunisation programme (adjusted odds ratio: 19.3; 95% confidence interval: 6.5–57.7).


Worldwide, 38% of countries lack adult immunisation programmes. COVID-19 vaccine deployment will require national systems for vaccine storage and handling, delivery and waste management to target adult risk groups. There is a need to strengthen immunisation systems to reach adults with COVID-19 vaccines.


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