The following are statements from Laura Hanen and Phyllis Arthur, co-chairs of the Adult Vaccine Access Coalition (AVAC), regarding the release of the National Adult Immunization Plan from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Vaccine Program Office (NVPO).
“The Adult Vaccine Access Coalition (AVAC) congratulates NVPO on the release of the National Adult Immunization Plan. The plan is a roadmap to a healthier future where the life- and cost-saving potential of vaccines is affordable and accessible to all adults.
Childhood immunizations are one of the most remarkable public health success stories of our time, but we continue to lag far behind when it comes to adults. Every year, more than 50,000 adults in the United States die from vaccine preventable diseases and thousands more suffer serious health problems that recommended vaccines can prevent. While our nation has made important progress in recent years on eliminating barriers to and increasing awareness of vaccines, they remain beyond the reach of too many Americans—particularly minorities and the uninsured, for whom immunization rates are significantly lower on average than the general population.
As a diverse coalition of health care providers, vaccine manufacturers, pharmacies, and public health, patient, and consumer groups, AVAC is pleased that the report lays out targeted benchmarks to increase immunization rates among all adults that and puts forward solutions to strengthen the capacity of our public health infrastructure to meet those goals. We are eager to mobilize our members and work with federal agencies and other adult immunization coalitions to move this plan from paper to practice.
In the coming years, continued medical breakthroughs and technological advances will lead to the creation of new vaccines and improvements in those currently available. Implementation of the National Adult Immunization Plan will help ensure that every American—no matter their age, location, or socioeconomic status—will be able to reap the benefits. AVAC looks forward to working with our federal government partners on these efforts now and in the future.”
-Laura Hanen, Co-Chair of AVAC and the Chief of Government Affairs for the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO)
“The release of the National Adult Immunization Plan marks a seminal moment in the ongoing effort to bring more vaccines to more people. The Adult Vaccine Access Coalition (AVAC) was grateful for the opportunity to weigh in on the draft plan last year and is pleased that the final version reflects a number of our priorities.
One of AVAC’s key priorities is tackling the remaining systemic barriers to immunization. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions of previously uninsured Americans now enjoy health coverage and access to recommended vaccines at no cost. But such protections are not available across the board. AVAC appreciates that the plan specifically shines a light on the predicament of Medicare beneficiaries who often have significant out-of-pocket costs associated with vaccines covered under Part D. We will continue to work closely with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to encourage Part D plans to eliminate patient cost-sharing requirements for recommended vaccines.
The plan notes that quality improvement initiatives are critical to ensuring meaningful progress on public health and prevention efforts. We share the plan’s vision of a system that includes immunizations as a core component of patients’ acute healthcare and preventive health services. Moreover, recent advancements in health information technology have the potential to significantly improve real-time monitoring of nationwide vaccine coverage while simultaneously tracking rates of diseases that recommended vaccines can prevent. Pinpointing areas where immunization rates are strong and where they can improve can facilitate targeted outreach to specific locations and among populations who need it most.
Successful implementation of the National Adult Immunization Plan will rest in large part on our commitment to several principles: educating all adults about the incredible benefits vaccines provide; making vaccines available to everyone, from all backgrounds; and simplifying the delivery process. These are the values on which AVAC was founded and they will inspire us to help make implementation of this plan a success.”
-Phyllis Arthur, Co-Chair of AVAC and the Managing Director for Infectious Diseases and Diagnostics Policy at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO)