Progress and Opportunities: Implementing the 2010 National Vaccine Plan
Howard K. Koh M.D., M.P.H.
Former Assistant Secretary for Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The future of public health depends on creating and sustaining strong systems of prevention. A commitment to better prevention, in addition to treatment, can promote longer, healthier lives for all. Of all of our prevention tools, vaccination represents the foundation for public health. Despite great progress toward ensuring the availability, safety, and widespread use of vaccines over the years, we are still far from fulfilling their full potential.
Passage of the 2010 Affordable Care Act reset the stage for making prevention through immunization come alive. The beginning of open enrollment into the Health Insurance Marketplace in every state on October 1, 2013 gives millions of Americans who need or want health insurance coverage access to it. In addition, the Affordable Care Act offers new opportunities to build prevention and public health at the individual, state, and national levels. Already, since passage of the Affordable Care Act, more than 71 million individuals in private plans have better access to immunizations and other high-value preventive services, without cost sharing. At the state level, the Affordable Care Act authorizes use of funds for purchase of vaccines for adults at federally-negotiated prices. And at the national level, the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council has elevated immunization and other preventive services as a priority, in order to increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life. By building on the time-honored Healthy People initiative, which has framed the country’s health promotion and disease prevention agenda for the past 30 years, the Council created a new National Prevention Strategy. It prioritizes themes of empowered individuals, healthy and safe communities, clinical and community preventive services, and the elimination of health disparities. And the Prevention and Public Health Fund, now entering its fifth year, has invested in a host of critical efforts that strengthen public health infrastructure, promote prevention research, and improve data collection on health disparities.
It is within this context that we now unveil the first annual progress report of the 2010 National Vaccine Plan. First established in 1994, the National Vaccine Plan then represented an initial blueprint to set goals and align national efforts for immunization in the country. The updated 2010 National Vaccine Plan, designed to provide a 10-year vision of national priorities for the 21st century, has broadened the vision and goals. Special attention now addresses the critical dimension of global health, especially since health leaders have committed to a common vision of a Decade of Vaccines to extend the full benefits of immunization to all people. Overall, the 2010 National Vaccine Plan represents a heightened commitment to systems of vaccination that strengthen public health, reduce disparities and improve global health. Hence, every effort was made to align with key elements of Healthy People 2020, the National Prevention Strategy, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Strategic Plan, the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Disparities, and the HHS Global Health Strategy. This first annual progress report illustrates the achievements and ongoing efforts of many stakeholders in the vaccine and immunization enterprise.
Of course, implementing strategy requires regular monitoring and documentation of progress, challenges, and opportunities that provide transparency to policymakers and the public alike. Readers will be intrigued to see progress in areas such as adult immunization, decision-making about new vaccine development, vaccine coverage, and risk communication. We envision future reports will also document further substantial developments in results, lessons learned, and areas for improvement.
We hope the end product of these aligned efforts will be a healthier society where true prevention systems are attained, maintained, and sustained. Only then can everyone have the chance to lead vibrant lives free from vaccine-preventable illness and have a chance to reach their full potential for health.