A National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) is a body of national experts who empower and advise the national health policy makers and primarily the ministry of health on all topics related to vaccines and immunization.

NITAGs aim to enhance the use of evidence-based decision-making processes to establish appropriate immunization policies and programs at national level.  Based on WHO recommendations, the proposed broad general terms of reference are as follows:
  • Conduct policy analyses and determine optimal national immunization policies
  • Guide the national government and the national immunization program on the formulation of strategies for the control of vaccine-preventable diseases through immunization.
  • Advise the national authorities on the monitoring of the immunization program so that impact can be measured and quantified
  • Advise the government on the collection of important disease and vaccine uptake data and information
  • Identify the need for further data for policy making
  • Guide, where appropriate, organizations, institutions or government agencies in the formulation of policies, plans and strategies for research and development of new vaccines and vaccine delivery technologies for the future
NITAGs provide recommendations on all issues related to immunization and vaccines including, among others:
  • Immunization policies and strategies within and outside of the Expanded Program for Immunization (including the adaptation of the current program)
  • Introduction of new vaccines and immunization technologies
  • Vaccine quality and safety
  • Vaccine schedules
  • Procurement and financing of immunization programs
  • Research priorities and strategies
  • New and emerging vaccine-preventable diseases and response to public health needs
Recommendations are forwarded to high-level ministry of health officials for their consideration and prioritization.

By supporting national authorities to make immunization and vaccine decisions based on evidence, NITAGs empower the government. In particular, they serve to:

  • Promote the adoption of policies based on national priorities and which effectively take into account the local specificities (epidemiology, logistics capacity, etc.)
  • Help resist pressure from interest groups
  • Reinforce the credibility of proposed national vaccine and immunization policies
  • Enhance the ability to secure government or donor funding
  • Encourage a more comprehensive approach that:
  • Considers the health of vulnerable populations
  • Integrates various, pre-existing vaccine-specific task forces

The ministry of health formally establishes a NITAG by issuing a decree or the equivalent.

NITAG core members are national senior experts from a broad range of disciplines (pediatricians, epidemiologists, public health experts, health economists, vaccinology experts, social scientists, etc. They should be independent and function in their own capacity; they must not represent a particular interest group or stakeholder. They should be free of conflicts of interest and enjoy satisfactory credibility.

Observers and invited experts can also contribute as ex-officio and liaison members (non core members). In particular, they can participate in discussions and provide background material or evidence but cannot vote.These members may include representatives from:

  • Governments and national advisory committees involved in immunization activities
  • Professional and other civil societies (professional orders, scientific societies, etc.)
  • Key technical partners (e.g., WHO, UNICEF)