In accordance with WHO’s mandate to provide guidance to Member States on health policy matters, the organization is tasked with developing evidence-based immunization policy recommendations. In 1999 an independent advisory group, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization, was established by the Director-General and charged with providing guidance to WHO on global policy recommendations and strategies. SAGE is concerned with all vaccine-preventable diseases and vaccination programmes for all ages.
SAGE meets biannually to review and critically appraise the available evidence on immunization and vaccine-related topics and to formulate recommendations which are then reflected in the WHO vaccine position papers. The WHO position papers summarize essential background information on the respective diseases and vaccines and also present the WHO position in the global setting.
WHO vaccine position papers undergo a formal review process and are designed to assist Member States with the development of optimal immunization schedules for diseases that have a global public health impact. Key recommendations are compiled in summary tables. Other technical and narrowly focused global advisory committees support SAGE. In turn, regional technical advisory groups help identify specific regional challenges and define priorities. Taking into consideration the local context, national immunization technical advisory groups provide guidance to national policy makers.