Vaccination legislation in Latin America and the Caribbean
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Governments have the authority and responsibility to ensure vaccination for all citizens. The development of vaccination legislation in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) parallels the emergence of sustainable, relatively autonomous, and effective national immunization programs. We reviewed vaccination legislation and related legal documents from LAC countries (excluding Canada, Puerto Rico, the United States, and the US Virgin Islands), and described and assessed vaccination legislation provisions. Twenty-seven of the 44 countries and territories in the Region have proposed or enacted vaccination legislation. Provisions vary substantially, but legal frameworks generally protect the sustainability of the immunization program, the individual's right to immunization, and the state's responsibility to provide it as a public good. Of the legislation from countries and territories included in the analysis, 44 per cent protects a budget line for vaccines, 96 per cent mandates immunization, 63 per cent declares immunization a public good, and 78 per cent explicitly defines the national vaccine schedule. We looked for associations between vaccination legislation in LAC and national immunization program performance and financing, and conclude with lessons for governments seeking to craft or enhance vaccination legislation.
Keywordspublic health law immunization vaccination law vaccination policy vaccine financing
We gratefully acknowledge the contributions from ministry of health immunization program staff and immunization staff from PAHO country offices to this article. Several individuals from the Region tirelessly tracked down legal documents for the database, helped to specify research questions, and participated in telephone and in-person interviews in the early stages of the project. We are also grateful for the revisions and comments Carolina Danovaro (PAHO, FCH/IM) provided on early drafts. The ProVac Initiative is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with additional in-kind support from the PanAmerican Health Organization.
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