The current global HPAI situation has provoked discussion about the use of vaccination in wild birds. The advice from the joint Convention on Migratory Species and FAO’s Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds is that vaccination could be considered for key localised populations where it is practically and financially feasible. However, there are a number of constraints to the use of vaccination as a risk mitigation tool for HPAI in free-ranging wildlife and to date its application in this context has been limited (for example vaccination of California Condors in the California Condor Recovery Program).
The WOAH Guidelines for “emergency vaccination of wild birds against high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI) in specific situations” provide considerations for emergency vaccination of wild birds against HPAI in immediate response to an outbreak or increased risk of introduction of HPAI. The Guidelines include a process for considering the use of emergency vaccination as a control tool for HPAI in wild bird populations, including presentation of current knowledge of vaccination of non-poultry species, vaccination of wild bird against HPAI including international standards, authorisation and planning, and considerations such as outbreak epidemiology, target populations, vaccine and vaccination, diagnostic capacity, work health and safety, legal and regulatory framework, and resources.
The WOAH Working Group on Wildlife provides this document to assist the responsible authorities in situations where questions of vaccination of wild birds are raised and consideration is given as part of incident response planning. Members and responsible authorities are encouraged to make themselves familiar with the document as part of their HPAI awareness and preparedness activities for wild birds.