Posted on February 16, 2011
The Department of Health and Human Services has unveiled a new National Vaccine Plan, which aims to ensure increased access to the protective benefits of vaccines during the next 10 years.
The main goals of the plan, which was discussed today at the National Vaccine Advisory Committee Meeting, are to establish priority areas for new vaccines and vaccine enhancement, develop evidence-based surveillance strategies for assessing safety as well as efficacy of vaccines, create awareness of vaccine-preventable diseases, and to enhance coordination of all aspects of federal vaccine and immunization activities, according to Bruce Gellin, MD, MPH. Gellin is Director of the National Vaccine Program Office and presented the plan to the committee.
He said this plan is the first updated national vaccine plan since 1994. He said changes in the number of vaccines being administered, as well as recent health events like pandemic influenza all demonstrated the need for revisions to the plan.
The plan is the product of extensive stakeholder feedback, which integrated input from public health and medical experts, a wide range of federal, state and local government officials, and the public.
Although vaccines are being developed to treat diseases and conditions and for non-infectious diseases, the focus of this plan is on vaccines for the prevention of infectious diseases as guided by the law that established the National Vaccine Program, Gellin said.
“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,” said Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh, MD, MPH, who also attended the committee meeting.
Next steps include a series of regional meetings with stakeholders in the spring and summer of 2011, which 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, Gellin said.
“The hardest part is yet to come,” Gellin said. “That is, we need to achieve the 10-year goals set up in this plan.” – Colleen Zacharyczuk