In 2017, the State Council requested the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), known as the Ministry of Health (MoH) before 2013 and as the National Health Commission (NHC) after 2018, to establish China’s National Immunization Advisory Committee (NIAC)(1). The NIAC acts as China’s National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) — a deliberative body of national experts who advise national authorities and policy makers with evidence-based recommendations on immunization policy and program (2-3).
NIAC was preceded by the Experts Advisory Committee on the Immunization Program (EACIP), which was established by the MoH in 1982 and reaffirmed in 1988, 1992, 1997, and 2004 with membership expanding from 26 to 33 members all appointed by the MoH (4). In September 2010, the EACIP was again affirmed with 29 experts and was made a sub-group of the Experts Committee on Disease Control and Prevention under the MoH.
In the past 35 years, the EACIP played an important role in advancing the national immunization schedule, including drafting and reviewing technical documents, relevant laws, and regulations. The EACIP, however, was not tasked with recommending new vaccines to be introduced into the national Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI). Indeed, China has not introduced any new EPI vaccines since 2008 (4), with the sole exception of replacing the first oral poliomyelitis vaccine (OPV) dose with inactivated poliomyelitis vaccine (IPV) in 2016 as part of the globally synchronized poliovirus vaccine switch.
|①||To augment the effectiveness of NIAC, groups of experts – Technical Working Groups (TWG), were established by China CDC with the authorization of MoH. The Director of China CDC, who is responsible for EPI, acts as the TWG Chair. There are currently 18 active Working Groups (WGs). These include three permanent WGs (an Immunization Schedule WG, an Immunization Practices WG, and an Evidence-based Decision Making Methods WG) and 15 task-oriented WGs for specific vaccines (polio, measles-mumps-rubella, DTaP, meningococcal, rabies, cholera, influenza, hepatitis B, hepatitis E, pneumococcal, Heamophilus influenzae type b, varicella, rotavirus, human papillomavirus, and hemorrhagic fever). Each WG operates under specific TORs as determined by the TWG chair and WG lead when the WG is established.|