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
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