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Date: Dec. 11, 2009
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Alison Burnette, Media Relations Assistant
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
National Vaccine Plan Should Prioritize Efforts to Tackle Unmet Health Needs,
More Resources for Safety Research and Communication
The National Vaccine Plan aims to provide centralized coordination of the various components involved in protecting Americans from vaccine-preventable illnesses and vaccine-related adverse reactions. The immunization system engages many partners -- including multiple government agencies and departments, vaccine researchers, manufacturers, public health officials, health care providers, and the public -- in identifying vaccine needs, researching and developing new products, assessing safety, and getting people immunized. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a draft update to the plan in 2008 and requested that IOM conduct an independent assessment of issues that merit priority attention.
The updated plan should call for a greater proportion of vaccine research and development to be directed at specific goals, such as producing vaccines against diseases for which there are none or developing a single vaccine that would work against all influenza viruses, the committee said. The majority of vaccine research and development stems from the focus and interests of individual researchers rather than a set of priority targets identified through a centralized planning process.
Given the absence of a framework to set a national vaccine-safety research agenda, the National Vaccine Plan should call for expanded funding for safety research and include establishing a permanent group to advise the government on safety issues, the report says. Little vaccine research supported by the National Institutes of Health appears to be geared toward safety, the committee noted. Moreover, as the number and kinds of vaccines have increased, funding to monitor safety has not. The monitoring system has successfully caught problems such as a rare but severe intestinal injury linked to a discontinued rotavirus vaccine, but the Immunization Safety Office within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention needs more resources to do its work. A new vaccine safety advisory group could guide efforts to address potential safety concerns and the development of a research agenda with clear priorities.
Noting that a proliferation of misinformation about vaccines' effectiveness and safety has contributed to diminished public understanding of and confidence in the value of immunization, the committee called for the National Vaccine Plan to include the development of a national communications strategy that engages the latest techniques and methods, such as social networking. Outreach efforts by federal agencies and other public health groups have been disjointed and reactive and not as effective as they should be, the committee said. The effort should boost health care providers' abilities to talk about the benefits and risks of vaccines with patients as well as increase the public's understanding of vaccines.
The National Vaccine Plan should also include a strategy to eliminate financial barriers to immunization, such as lack of health plan coverage for all recommended vaccines and insufficient reimbursements that do not cover all of a clinic's costs of providing vaccines, the report added. Certain subgroups, such as the elderly and people with lower incomes, tend to have greater difficulty getting the vaccines they need. The plan also should promote the use of health information technology to monitor disease incidence, rapidly detect potential safety signals, and measure vaccine coverage. Tracking patients' immunization status should be an integral part of electronic health records, the report says.
The National Vaccine Program Office (NVPO), which Congress intended to coordinate vaccine activities across government agencies, requires a heightened profile and more resources to carry out its role and to implement the National Vaccine Plan, the committee said. The HHS secretary should clarify NVPO's role as the central coordinator for critical immunization activities and give it the necessary funding to fulfill this role.
"Coordination is at the heart of the National Vaccine Plan, and it needs to be strengthened," said committee chair Claire V. Broome, adjunct professor, department of global health, Rollins School of Public Health,
The study was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the
Pre-publication copies of Priorities for the National Vaccine Plan are available from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at http://www.nap.edu. Reporters may obtain a copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed above).
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[ This news release and report are available at http://national-academies.org ]
Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice
Committee on Review of Priorities in the National Vaccine Plan
Claire V. Broome, M.D. (chair)
Department of Global Health
Director General of Communications
Public Health Agency of
Jocelyn Guyer, M.P.A.
Center for Children and Families, and
Health Policy Institute
Timothy J. Hoff, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management
Department of Health Policy, Management, and Behavior
Grace M. Lee, M.D., M.P.H.
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Infectious Diseases
Departments of Medicine and Laboratory Medicine
Assistant Professor of Population Medicine
Harvard Pilgrim Medical Care Institute
Richard Mandsager, M.D.
Edgar K. Marcuse, M.D., M.P.H.
Professor of Pediatrics
Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology
Associate Medical Director for Quality Improvement
A. David Paltiel, Ph.D.
Professor and Acting Head
Division of Health Policy and Administration
Arthur L. Reingold, M.D.
Edward Penhoet Distinguished Professor of Global Health and Infectious Disease, and
Associated Dean for Research
David B. Reuben, M.D.
Multicampus Program in Geriatrics Medicine and Gerontology, and
Archstone Professor of Medicine and Chief
Division of Geriatrics
Sara Rosenbaum, J.D.
Department of Health Policy, and
Harold and Jane Hirsh Professor of Health Law and Policy
Milagritos D. Tapia, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine
Pediatric Infectious Diseases
Alina Baciu, M.P.H.