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The Politics of Health Care

HHS Unveils New National Vaccine Plan

Published February 18, 2011 10:20 AM by Frank Irving
Strategic plan covers vaccine and immunization science and policy for the next decade.

On Feb. 16, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) released a new National Vaccine Plan to enhance coordination of all aspects of federal vaccine and immunization activities. Its goal is to ensure that all Americans can access the preventive benefits of vaccines, according to HHS.

The plan addresses vaccine research and development, supply, financing, distribution, safety, global cooperation, and informed decision-making among consumers and health care providers.

The update of the National Vaccine Plan is the first since the original version was introduced in 1994.

"Vaccines are a critical cornerstone of the public health system," said Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh, MD, MPH. "The National Vaccine Plan articulates a vision that will ensure that the nation's prevention strategies protect the public for the next decade and beyond."

HHS noted that, despite the success of vaccines in reducing death and disability over the last century, many Americans still suffer from infectious diseases that can be prevented by vaccines. The plan offers approaches to improve delivery of existing vaccines and to spur development of new products to prevent infectious disease.

"This plan is a 10-year vision for the nation to more effectively prevent infectious diseases and reduce adverse reactions to vaccines," said Director of the National Vaccine Program Office and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health Bruce Gellin, MD, MPH. "The plan is national in scope. Implementation will require a well-organized effort among stakeholders, including federal, state and local policymakers, health care providers, manufacturers, academia, philanthropic organizations and the public."

The plan outlines the following priorities for implementation:

  • Develop a catalogue of priority vaccine targets of domestic and global health importance.
  • Strengthen the science base for the development and licensure of new vaccines.
  • Enhance timely detection and verification of vaccine safety signals and develop a vaccine safety scientific agenda.
  • Increase awareness of vaccines, vaccine-preventable diseases, and the benefits/risks of immunization among the public, providers, and other stakeholders.
  • Use evidence-based science to enhance vaccine-preventable disease surveillance, measurement of vaccine coverage, and measurement of vaccine effectiveness.
  • Eliminate financial barriers for providers and consumers to facilitate access to routinely recommended vaccines.
  • Create an adequate and stable supply of routinely recommended vaccines and vaccines for public health preparedness.
  • Increase and improve the use of interoperable health information technology and electronic health records.
  • Improve global surveillance for vaccine-preventable diseases and strengthen global health information systems to monitor vaccine coverage, effectiveness, and safety.
  • Support global introduction and availability of new and under-utilized vaccines to prevent diseases of public health importance.

HHS said next steps include a series of regional meetings with stakeholders in the spring and summer of 2011. The meetings will focus on how to implement the strategies laid out in the National Vaccine Plan. The final implementation plan will be completed by the end of 2011.

Click here for additional information about the new National Vaccine Plan.

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