National vaccine advisory committee issues recommendations to strengthen supply of routine vaccines

In an effort to enhance the supply of necessary childhood vaccines without the shortages seen in recent years, the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) has issued a list of recommendations that are published in a special communication in the December 17 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The NVAC was chartered in 1988 to advise and make recommendations to the Director of the National Vaccine Program and the Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services on matters related to the prevention of infectious diseases through immunization and the prevention of adverse reactions to vaccines. The NVAC is composed of 15 members from public and private organizations representing vaccine manufacturers, physicians, parents, and state and local health agencies.

"Beginning in late 2000, significant unprecedented and unanticipated shortages of routinely administered vaccines against 8 of 11 vaccine-preventable childhood infectious diseases occurred in the United States," according to background information provided by the Committee's report. "Affected vaccines included diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis [whooping cough] (DtaP), measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), varicella [chicken pox], and pneumococcal conjugate [pneumonia] vaccines; combined tetanus and diphtheria toxoids (Td) was also in short supply. Vaccine supply disruptions affected private practices and public clinics because both sectors purchase vaccines from the same manufacturers."

The Committee's report states that some of the problems that contributed to the shortage of vaccine supplies between 2000 and 2003 included a relatively low value given to preventive measures such as vaccines compared with that of therapeutic medicines, reflected in what individuals and public and private payers are willing to pay for vaccines; the high cost and complexity of development, approval, manufacturing and dis

Contact: Cynthia Ferguson
JAMA and Archives Journals

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