The Switch From Trivalent to Bivalent Oral Poliovirus Vaccine in the South-East Asia Region


This analysis describes an innovative and successful approach to risk identification and mitigation in relation to the switch from trivalent to bivalent oral polio vaccine (OPV) in the 11 countries of the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) South-East Asia Region (SEAR) in April 2016. The strong commitment of governments and immunization professionals to polio eradication and an exemplary partnership between the WHO, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and other partners and stakeholders in the region and globally were significant contributors to the success of the OPV switch in the SEAR. Robust national switch plans were developed and country-specific innovations were planned and implemented by the country teams. Close monitoring and tracking of the activities and milestones through dashboards and review meetings were undertaken at the regional level to ensure that implementation time lines were met, barriers identified, and solutions for overcoming challenges were discussed and implemented. The SEAR was the first WHO Region globally to complete the switch and declare the successful withdrawal of trivalent OPV from all countries on 17 May 2016. A number of activities implemented during the switch process are likely to contribute positively to existing immunization practices and to similar initiatives in the future. These activities include better vaccine supply chain management, improved mechanisms for disposal of vaccination-related waste materials, and a closer collaboration with drug regulators, vaccine manufacturers, and the private sector for immunization-related initiatives.