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Pediatric vaccine stockpile policies need to be revisited, researcher says
Date:9/9/2010

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. Vaccine manufacturers and public health decision-makers need to collaborate in a more efficient and effective manner not only to reduce the likelihood of supply shortages for pediatric vaccines but also to maximize community immunity by using vaccine doses to increase coverage, according to research published by a University of Illinois researcher who specializes in statistics and data analysis.

Sheldon H. Jacobson, a professor of computer science and the director of the simulation and optimization laboratory at Illinois, says that the Pediatric Vaccine Stockpile Program administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should not simply be seen as a repository of vaccines, but rather as a "repository of opportunities" for enhancing the collective immunity of children. "We hear a lot about bioterrorism and pandemics, but the fact of the matter is, the threat to routine immunization is one of the greatest threats we face," Jacobson said. "If we had problems with our vaccine supply chain, it would have the potential to cause more deaths than any of those other issues."

With an average of 11,000 children in need of immunization on any given day, Jacobson says that managing pediatric vaccine stockpiles shouldn't simply be limited to increasing the levels of the stockpile itself.

"Just like perishable goods, vaccines have a shelf life," Jacobson said. "They're not like canned goods that you can simply stockpile and forget about for an extended period of time.

"When you have finite economic resources, you have to make choices. But we also want to create a buffer that will create the widest possible public health safety net."

The CDC's current policy of maintaining a six-month rotating vaccine stockpile isn't the most optimal solution for achieving "herd immunity," which Jacobson defines as "the smallest percentage of a population that must be immunized against a disease so that unvaccinated
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Contact: Phil Ciciora
pciciora@illinois.edu
217-333-2177
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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