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Success through Collaboration: The National Vaccine Plan

Bruce Gellin MD, MPH
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health
Director, National Vaccine Program Office
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

"To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science."  This quotation from Albert Einstein set the tone of the 2010 National Vaccine Plan—and is a timely reminder for this first report on progress toward accomplishing the goals and objectives of the 2010 National Vaccine Plan. The National Vaccine Plan is the strategy guiding the National Vaccine Program, which was created in 1988 by the Public Health Service Act.  The first National Vaccine Plan was issued in 1994, and updated in 2010 to reflect the new opportunities and challenges of the 21st century immunization landscape.  In this first State of the National Vaccine Plan report, you’ll find highlights of work done by HHS agencies and their partners to implement the 2010 National Vaccine Plan.

The accomplishments of each U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agency are truly remarkable when considered individually. However, as President Lyndon B. Johnson noted, “There are no problems we cannot solve together, and very few that we can solve by ourselves.”  The many examples of collaboration provided in this report demonstrate the necessity for a synergistic approach to maintaining and enhancing the immunization system of the United States.  There are many stakeholders, both federal and non-federal, that contribute to the successful functioning of our national vaccine program, all performing their specialized functions in concert.  When the work of these stakeholders is considered as a whole, it becomes clear that by working together it is possible to achieve truly great successes.  This report also highlights and demonstrates the integrative mission of the National Vaccine Program Office (NVPO): to bring these stakeholders together and facilitate their collaboration to develop strategies to strengthen our national immunization system, and solve emerging and ongoing problems confronting the U.S. vaccine enterprise.  Part of this coordination involves a continuous feedback process, where stakeholders share information about their respective activities that contribute to the achievement of the five goals of the National Vaccine Plan. In this way, NVPO ensures that all involved parties are included in the ongoing national strategic dialogue on vaccines and immunization.

The accomplishments and progress highlighted in this report were achieved through the contributions of many organizations, both federal and non-federal, working in partnership toward common goals.  Included are updates on the actions currently being carried out by HHS and other federal partner agencies to implement the National Vaccine Plan.  The report also provides an overview of work identified by HHS and its agencies that feature our efforts to achieve the five goals of the National Vaccine Plan, as well as ongoing relevant challenges and opportunities.  

Input and guidance from non-federal experts has been essential to HHS’s work over the years to strengthen and support our National Vaccine Program. The role and impact of our National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) are featured in this report.  NVAC is a chartered federal advisory committee comprised of experts from stakeholder organizations involved in implementing the National Vaccine Plan.  NVAC has provided essential expertise and guidance on HHS’s work to improve the nation’s immunization system for the last 25 years.  Also accompanying the report are commentaries provided by leaders in the field of vaccines and immunization.  These experts have kindly contributed their perspectives on issues that need continued attention moving forward.

This report not only highlights accomplishments that have been made during the last few years, it also provides an opportunity to take stock of our progress and ensure that we’re sufficiently focused on areas that need our attention and support.  Through continued collaboration, HHS and its partners will keep seeking out solutions to new and emerging challenges that prevent those in the United States, and around the world, from experiencing the full benefits of immunization.