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Advocates in Washington promote many different issues and causes. All face one question, regardless of the topic: Why is this important?
For vaccines, establishing their importance in health begins with education. It hasn’t been that many years since deadly infections were the diseases people feared in the way we fear cancer or heart attacks. Yet people have largely forgotten about the role vaccines played in eliminating life-threatening pathogens such as smallpox and polio. People view modern-day viral diseases such as Ebola, Zika, or HIV as infections that happen to those in lands far away or with risk factors that don’t apply to them.
The Adult Vaccine Access Coalition (AVAC) is an important educator of federal legislators and policymakers about the importance of vaccines and reasons why adult immunizations are just as important as those for children. GSA is an active participant in AVAC. Patricia D’Antonio, RPh, MS, MBA, BCGP, Vice President of Professional Affairs at GSA, was recently named co-chair of AVAC, serving with Phyllis Arthur, MBA, Senior Director for Vaccines, Immunotherapeutics, and Diagnostics Policy at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. AVAC was profiled in the September 2017 issue of the NAVP Immunizations Newsletter.
This year, and continuing into 2021, AVAC has a major assist in its educational mission from the Smithsonian. Now on display at the National Museum of Natural History on the National Mall, “Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World” helps people understand how intercontinental travel and other realities of today’s world mean that “an outbreak anywhere is a threat everywhere.”