The International Council on Adult Immunizations (ICAI): advocating for global technical consensus and policy prioritization


Older adult immunization has not been prioritized by global technical or policymakers, leading to its under-utilization. This era of COVID-19 only highlights the urgency for the global health community to act. With a small window of opportunity aligned with global strategies, including the upcoming Decade for Healthy Aging and Immunization Agenda 2030, the time is now to expand efforts to build awareness around the broad value of older adult vaccines (influenza, pneumococcal, and herpes zoster vaccines) so as to spur global technical consensus, global health policy-making, and eventually regional and national programmatic planning.


The International Council of Experts on Adult Immunization (ICAI), a diverse group of scientific, advocacy, and policy experts, is hosted by IVAC, which serves as its Secretariat. ICAI aims to accelerate immunization as a key strategy to maintain health and well-being for adults, and to call upon various stakeholders to establish, expand and implement evidence-based, adult immunization policies and programs. ICAI’s strategy is rooted in the Shiffman and Smith framework of generating political priority. In partnership with IVAC, ICAI synthesize and articulate the current gaps to establishing global technical consensus and policy change. ICAI also engages global stakeholders to build awareness of the broad value of older adult vaccines, and advocates for timely, evidence-based policies and programs. ICAI is committed to supporting equitable vaccine access across the life course, establishing and strengthening delivery platforms targeting older adult, ensuring underrepresented voices are included in key policy planning conversations, and calling upon global partners to prioritize and act on making older adult immunization policy a reality.

  • Published a paper that synthesizes the evidence on the health, economic, and social impact of adult vaccine-preventable disease and provides a roadmap for prioritizing older adult immunization in the COVID-19 era.
    Learn: Illustrative example of how immunizing older adults against general VPDs may mitigate their COVID-19 outcomes

All older adults start off at their own baseline of health. If and how they encounter VPDs, and the nature of their specific outcomes, will depend on their individual resiliency. Vaccines can prevent –or minimize the length or severity of – some VPDs, which would especially helpful in the context of other health threats, like COVID-19.



Steering Committee:
Dr. Greg Poland; Dr. Jane Barratt; Dr. Paolo Bonanni; Dr. Pablo Bonvehi; Dr. David Durrheim; Dr. Mark Jit; Lois Privor-Dumm



Dr. Gregory Poland
ICAI Chair

Gregory A. Poland, M.D., is the director of Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group — a state-of-the-art research group and laboratory that investigates issues surrounding vaccine response and novel vaccines important to public health. Dr. Poland holds the academic rank of professor of medicine and infectious diseases and molecular pharmacology and experimental therapeutics. He is the director of the Immunization Clinic and director of the Program in Translational Immunovirology and Biodefense at Mayo Clinic. He also serves as the president of the Edward Jenner Vaccine Society and is the Editor-in-Chief for the journal “Vaccine.

Dr. NK Arora

Narendra Kumar Arora MD, MMSc, is the current Executive Director of The INCLEN Trust International since 2005. He holds MD in Pediatrics from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi and has received MMSc in Clinical Epidemiology and Bio-Statistics from the University of Newcastle, Australia.

He was a faculty member of AIIMS since 1983 and retired as a Professor of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition in 2007. Prof Arora is a known public health expert in India and is extensively involved in policy-making, program planning, implementation and evaluation of public health programs at both national and international level. He was a Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator in over 60 major research projects and have published over 150 original research in national and international peer-reviewed journals.

Dr. Jane Barratt

Jane M Barratt, Ph.D. is the Secretary General, International Federation on Ageing (IFA) an international non-government organization with general consultative status with the United Nations and its agencies including formal relations with the World Health Organization (WHO).

During the 1980s and 90s Jane honed her technical and orating skills through an academic career in population ageing and disability at the Universities in the United Kingdom and Australia with attention to improved understanding of population-based planning models and service provision. Thereafter she developed a successful business in strategic planning and relationships alongside senior director and management positions in various international and national not-for-profit organizations.

She is a Winston Churchill Fellow and a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in Canada in recognition of her commitment to enhance the understanding of issues relating to ageing and engaging in dialogue with governments and the private sector.

Dr. Paolo Bonanni

Professor Bonanni graduated in Medicine and Surgery (MD) in 1985 and was awarded two specialisations in Hygiene and Preventive Medicine at the University of Genoa, Italy. He currently serves as a professor and director of the specialization school for MDs, Hygiene, and Preventive Medicine at the University of Florence, Italy. Professor Bonanni’s scientific activity has covered the epidemiology and prevention of infectious diseases, particularly viral hepatitis, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza, measles, rubella, varicella, and, most recently, bacterial invasive diseases and human papillomavirus, including clinical trials and economic valuation of vaccination strategies.

Dr. Pablo Bonvehi

Pablo Eduardo Bonvehí, MD received his medical degree from the University of Buenos Aires and a Masters in Epidemiology and Public Health from the University of Miami. He is the head of the Infectious Diseases Section of the CEMIC, where is also an associate professor. Dr. Bonvehi is actively involved in the adult infectious disease world, and his past roles include President of the Argentine Society of Infectious Diseases. He currently serves as President of the National Commission on Immunizations (CoNaIn); National Control Program Immunopreventable Diseases (ProNaCEI), Ministry of Health, Argentina as well as a PAHO NITAG member.

Dr. David Durrheim

David Durrheim, MD is Conjoint Professor of Public Health Medicine, University of Newcastle, and Director – Health Protection, Hunter New England Health.

He is a Public Health Physician with an established track record in conducting public research that has an operational focus and is translational in nature. His ability to use operational research findings to assist local public health programs to improve their surveillance and service delivery, particularly in challenging under-resourced environments, has resulted in a number of awards and international recognition.

Professor Durrheim is an outspoken advocate for equitable global access to effective public health measures, particularly immunisation. He has been instrumental in developing novel surveillance systems to detect and facilitate response to emerging infectious disease risks.

He has served as an expert adviser and consultant to a number of World Health Organisation (WHO), regional and national health programs in the African and Pacific Regions. He continues to serve on various Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation working groups advising the WHO, along with being Chair of the National Polio Elimination Certification Committee and Western Pacific Regional Measles Elimination Verification Commission.

Dr. Janet McElhany

Janet McElhaney, MD, FRCPC, FACP studied at the University of Alberta, Faculty of Medicine from 1982 to 1986 and received her MD degree with honours. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine from 1986-1989 and her Fellowship in geriatric medicine from 1989-1991 at the University of Alberta, Faculty of Medicine. From 1991 to 1998, she was on the Faculty of the University of Alberta where she held a number of positions related to her research and geriatric medicine at the University of Alberta Hospital. At the University of Connecticut Health Center, she was Director of the Clinical Research Interdisciplinary Scholars Program (from 2003-2005) and continues to hold an appointment in the Center on Aging and the Department of Immunology. In 2005, she was appointed as the Allan M. McGavin Chair in Geriatrics Research at the University of British Columbia and was Division Head of Geriatric Medicine until 2011.Dr. McElhaney is currently the Health Sciences North Volunteer Association Chair in Healthy Aging and the Vice President Research and Scientific Director of the Health Sciences North Research Institute in Sudbury, Ontario. Dr. McElhaney serves on editorial boards of Journal of Immunology and Journal of Infectious Diseases, as a reviewer for a number of scientific publications and as scientific advisor to pharmaceutical companies. She served as the Chair of the Publication Steering Committee for the largest ever influenza vaccine trial in older adults (>43,000 subjects), on Data Safety and Monitoring Boards for influenza vaccine trials, and participated in several consultations and forums on immunization in older adults, including the World Health Organization and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations. Dr. McElhaney is an Advisor to the European Scientific Working Group on Influenza and participates on multiple grant review panels and advisory boards in Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia.

Dr. Laura Hammitt

Laura Hammitt, MD is Director of Infectious Disease Programs at the Center for American Indian Health and an Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her research focus is the epidemiology and prevention of pediatric infectious diseases, with a particular interest in Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and the ecology of the human microbiome as it relates to treatment and prevention of disease.
Dr. Hammitt earned her medical degree at the University of Utah in 1999 and completed a residency in pediatrics at Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, followed by an appointment as chief resident for one year. Dr. Hammitt subsequently joined the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS), serving at the Arctic Investigations Program in Anchorage, Alaska. Here she worked on infectious diseases of particular significance in the American Indian and Alaska Native population.
Following EIS, Dr. Hammitt completed a fellowship in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado. In 2008, after finishing her fellowship training, Dr. Hammitt moved to Kilifi, Kenya as a clinical epidemiologist and consultant physician at the local district hospital. Dr. Hammitt returned to the United States in 2011 to join the faculty at the Center for American Indian Health.

Dr. Heidi Larson

Heidi J. Larson, PhD is an anthropologist and Director of The Vaccine Confidence Project (VCP); Professor of Anthropology, Risk and Decision Science, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, LSHTM; with additional academic posts at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA, and the University of Antwerp, Belgium. Dr. Larson previously headed Global Immunisation Communication at UNICEF, chaired GAVI’s Advocacy Task Force, and served on the WHO SAGE Working Group on vaccine hesitancy. The VCP is a WHO Centre of Excellence on addressing Vaccine Hesitancy.
Professor Larson’s research focuses on the analysis of social and political factors that can affect uptake of health interventions and influence policies. Her particular interest is on risk and rumor management from clinical trials to delivery – and building public trust. She served on the FDA Medical Countermeasure (MCM) Emergency Communication Expert Working Group, and is currently Principal Investigator for various studies, including a global study on Public Sentiments and Emotions Around Current and Potential Measures to Contain and Treat COVID-19.

Dr. Poh Lian Lim

Poh Lian Lim, MD, MPH is Director of the High Level Isolation Unit and Senior Consultant at NCID. She served as Head of the Department of Infectious Disease (2012-2016) and heads the travel clinic at TTSH.
Prof Lim received her BA from Harvard, MD from Columbia, and MPH from Tulane. She is a Senior Consultant in Singapore’s MOH, chairs the National Antimicrobial Resistance Control Committee (NARCC), and the national ID specialist training committee. She also serves on MOH and SAF Expert Committees on Immunization, Ministry of Defence SAB in ID, and other national committees.
Prof Lim is Chair of the Technical Advisory Group for WHO’s Health Security Interface for biothreat preparedness. She was active on WHO’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) Steering Committee for over a decade, serving on the Advisory Group on Reform of WHO’s Work (2015-2016), and was appointed to the UN Secretary General’s Global Health Crises Taskforce (2016-2017).
Prof Lim moved in 2003 from private practice in Seattle to Singapore. For her frontline work during SARS, she was honoured with the National Day Commendation Medal and Courage Star Award. Other recent honours: Minister for Health Award (2018), Nanyang Education Award-Schools (2019), Healthcare for Humanity Award (2020).

Dr. David Murdoch

David Murdoch MD, MSc, DTM&H, FRACP, FRCPA, FFSc is Dean of the University of Otago, Christchurch. David’s main research interests are the epidemiology, diagnosis and prevention of respiratory tract infections, pneumococcal disease, legionellosis, bloodstream infections, and the role of vitamin D in infectious diseases. He has a particular interest in the microbial etiology of pneumonia, and has ongoing projects based in nine countries in Africa and Asia.

Dr. Justin Ortiz

Justin R. Ortiz, MD, MHS is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary medicine, and critical care medicine. He has expertise in the clinical epidemiology and prevention of pneumonia. From 2014-2017, he was a Medical Officer at the World Health Organization Immunization Department where he led influenza vaccine activities. At WHO, he led programs related to adult immunization and maternal immunization. He was also member of the WHO Editorial Board for Immunization Position Papers, helping to develop and update institutional policy for numerous vaccines. Prior to WHO, he held a faculty position at the University of Washington Departments of Medicine and Global Health. He has also worked for PATH and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mr. David Sinclair

David Sinclair has worked in policy and research on ageing and demographic change for 15 years. He currently serves at ILC-UK as a Director. David has a particular interest in active ageing, financial services, adult vaccination, and the role of technology in an ageing society. He has a strong knowledge of UK and global ageing society issues, from healthcare to pensions and from housing to transport.

David the former Vice-Chair of the Government’s Consumer Expert Group for Digital Switchover. For ten years he chaired a London based charity (Open Age) which enables older people to sustain their physical and mental fitness, maintain active lifestyles and develop new and stimulating interests. Prior to joining the ILC, David worked as Head of Policy at Help the Aged where he led a team of 8 policy advisors. David has also worked for environmental and disability organisations in policy and public affairs functions. His other experience includes working as a VSO volunteer in Romania, in Parliament for a Member of Parliament, and with backbench committees.

Dr. Mark Jit

Mark Jit, PhD, MPH is a Professor of Vaccine Epidemiology at the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene as well as a contributor to the Modelling and Economics Unit of Public Health England, and a core member of the Vaccine Impact Modeling Consortium. His work in epidemiological and economic modelling of infectious disease control interventions has informed immunisation policy on a range of vaccines (including measles, HPV, pneumococcal, rotavirus, influenza and dengue vaccines) in both developed and developing countries.