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Fragile US vaccine system needs improvement despite dramatic gains in health over past century

A comprehensive system of vaccine development in the U.S. resulted in a reduction of 87 to more than 99 percent in illness from ten vaccine-preventable diseases during the twentieth century. These dramatic successes should not be taken for granted, however, as the vaccine system now faces numerous challenges in manufacturing and development, according to a review article in the May/June issue of Health Affairs.

The U.S. vaccine system is a complex collaboration among government, industry, providers, academia, professional societies and third-party payers that has resulted in record low levels of vaccine-preventable diseases and record high levels of immunizations among children. According to the article, however, problems with vaccine supply, cost and safety threaten to derail the vaccine successes of past decades, and the system faces additional challenges posed by the adult immunization program, the need for adequate research and development and the requirement of biopreparedness.

Walter A. Orenstein, director of the Emory Program for Vaccine Policy and Development and associate director of the Emory Vaccine Center at Emory University was lead author of the article. His research was partly supported by the National Institutes of Health. Co-authors included R. Gordon Douglas, consultant in vaccines, infectious diseases and global health; Lance Rodewald, director of the Immunization Services Division in the National Immunization Program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and Alan Hinman, senior public health scientist, Task Force for Child Survival and Development In addition to the major reductions in illness during the twentieth century from smallpox, diphtheria, measles, mumps, pertussis, polio, rubella, congenital rubella syndrome, tetanus, and H. influenzae, type b (in children less than 5 years old), new vaccines in the past 10 years for varicella (chickenpox), hepatitis A, and pneumococcal disease have led to signific
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Source:Emory University Health Sciences Center


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