Immunization standards

WHO norms and standards

WHO has played a key role for over 50 years in establishing the WHO Biological Reference Materials necessary to standardize biological materials as well as developing WHO guidelines and recommendations on the production and control of biological products and technologies. These norms and standards, based on scientific consensus achieved through international consultations, assist WHO Member States in ensuring the quality and safety of biological medicines and related in vitro biological diagnostic tests worldwide. The Organization accomplishes this work through its biological programme, the WHO Collaborating Centers, and the WHO Expert Committee on Biological Standardization (ECBS). This also involves close collaboration with the international scientific and professional communities, regional and national regulatory authorities, manufacturers and expert laboratories worldwide.

Written guidance and reference materials

The activities of the WHO biological standardization programme include the development and establishment of written guidance and biological reference materials.

Written guidelines and recommendations describe procedures for the manufacture and quality control testing of biological medicinal products to ensure safe and effective products. Guidelines provide more general information on a range of topics of interest to National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) and manufacturers, whereas recommendations establish the technical specifications for manufacturing and quality control of specific products. By adopting these guidance documents in their pharmacopoeias or equivalent legislation, national governments ensure that the products produced and used in their country conform to current international standards. Regulatory guidance documents also advise NRAs and manufacturers on the control of biological products, with the aim of establishing a harmonized regulatory framework for products moving in international markets.


  • WHO Informal Consultation on the International Standards for Biotherapeutic Products: future direction, WHO HQ, Geneva, Switzerland, 21-22 September 2015
  • WHO working group meeting on the development of guidelines on labelling influenza vaccines intended to be used for pregnant women, WHO HQ, Geneva, Switzerland, 24-25 September 2015
  • Expert Committee on Biological Standardization, WHO Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland, 12-16 October 2015
  • WHO Workshop on Implementation of Guidelines for procedures and data requirements for changes to approved vaccines, WHO HQ, Geneva, Switzerland, 18-20 November 2015


Technologies Standards and Norms (TSN)
Essential Medicines and Health Products (EMP)
World Health Organization (WHO)
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