February 18, 2011 (Washington, DC) — The US Department of Health and Human Services has taken the wraps off its 2010 National Vaccine Plan, aimed at improving access to currently available vaccines and spurring development of new ones.
The plan’s launch, announced here at a meeting of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee, comes as public health agencies are glancing nervously toward Capitol Hill and the White House, where politicians are grinding keen edges on their budget axes.
“This plan is a 10-year vision for the nation to more effectively prevent infectious diseases and reduce adverse reactions to vaccines,” said Bruce Gellin, MD, MPH, director of the National Vaccine Program Office and deputy assistant secretary for health.
The plan relies on the cooperation of federal, state, and local policymakers; healthcare providers; manufacturers; academia; philanthropic organizations; and the public to achieve its objectives.
5 Major Goals
The goals, to be achieved through specific actions, are to
- develop new and improved vaccines,
- enhance the vaccine safety system,
- support communications to enhance informed vaccine decision-making,
- ensure a stable supply of, access to, and better use of recommended vaccines in the United States, and
- increase global prevention of death and disease through safe and effective vaccination.
For example, the plan calls for developing a catalog of priority vaccine targets for both US and global health efforts and for “strengthening the science base for the development and licensure of new vaccines.”
Vaccine safety oversight and surveillance will be beefed up, and the US Department of Health and Human Services and partners will attempt to increase public awareness of the benefits and risks of vaccine-preventable diseases, as well as improve access to vaccines for providers and consumers.
The report’s authors acknowledge that vaccination has in many ways become a victim of its own success.
“Vaccines have the unique quality of protecting both individuals and communities. However, they have been so effective for many years in preventing and eliminating a number of serious infectious diseases that the significant contributions that vaccines make to our society and its health may have faded from public consciousness,” they write.
Childhood Vaccine Successes, “Pathetic” Failures
Also at the meeting, Anne Schuchat, MD, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, described vaccination goals in the government’s Healthy People 2020 program.
Fully one third of that program’s 32 objectives are directly or indirectly related to immunization or vaccines, she said, including reduction or elimination of diseases, more widespread vaccination coverage, vaccine safety, and reduction of inappropriate or excessive antibiotic use.
For example, more widespread use of newer pneumococcal conjugate vaccines could reduce the incidence of ear infections that might otherwise lead to antibiotic use, she noted.