HHS unveils National Vaccine Plan

WASHINGTON — The Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday unveiled a new National Vaccine Plan to enhance coordination of all aspects of federal vaccine and immunization activities with the goal to ensure that all Americans can gain access to vaccines.

“Vaccines are a critical cornerstone of the public health system,” stated Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health for HHS. “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.”

The plan offers innovative approaches to improve delivery of existing vaccines and to spur development of new products to prevent infectious disease. And pharmacies play a role in expanding access to vaccines, the report acknowledged. “Barriers to improved vaccine uptake include persistent cost, awareness and access problems; lack of knowledge of necessary vaccines; and limited use of evidence-based strategies to improve vaccine uptake, such as reminder-recall systems,” the report read. “Community health centers, other community immunization sites (e.g., pharmacies and stores) and school-located clinics offer venues for improving vaccine uptake, in addition to traditional provider sites.”

“This plan is a 10-year vision for the nation to more effectively prevent infectious diseases and reduce adverse reactions to vaccines,” stated the director of the National Vaccine Program Office and deputy assistant secretary for health, Bruce Gellin. “The plan is national in scope. Implementation will require a well-organized effort among stakeholders, including federal, state and local policy-makers, healthcare providers, manufacturers, academia, philanthropic organizations and the public.”

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.

For more about the new National Vaccine Plan, click here.