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Nov 23 -- The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy (OIDP) in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) announces the draft Vaccines National Strategic Plan 2021-2025 (Vaccine Plan) available for public comment. The draft Vaccine Plan may be reviewed at https://www.hhs.gov/vaccines/national-vaccine-plan/national-strategic-plan-vaccines-2021-2025/index.html. All comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. ET on December 3, 2020 to be considered.
 
The development of a National Vaccine Plan was mandated by Congress as a mechanism for the Director of the National Vaccine Program (as delegated by the Assistant Secretary for Health) to communicate priorities for achieving the Program's responsibilities of ensuring adequate supply of and access to vaccines and ensuring the effective and optimal use of vaccines. The most recent Plan, released in 2010, provided a comprehensive 10-year national strategy for enhancing all aspects of the plan, including vaccine research and development, supply, financing, distribution, and safety; informed decision-making by consumers and health care providers; vaccine-preventable disease surveillance; vaccine effectiveness and use monitoring; and global cooperation.
 
Despite the widespread availability of effective vaccines, vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) remain a significant public health challenge. In particular, rates of non-medical exemptions for childhood vaccines are increasing, and there have been recent measles outbreaks in the U.S. and globally, due to growing vaccine hesitancy and coverage levels below the threshold needed for herd immunity. With an estimated cost of $20,000 per case of measles to the public sector in 2016, the economic consequences of this and other VPDs, as well as the health consequences, are significant. Furthermore, few adults in any age group are fully vaccinated as recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Large disparities in vaccine coverage by race/ethnicity persist, with African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans lagging behind whites in nearly all vaccination coverage rates. VPDs such as pertussis and hepatitis B continue to take a heavy toll on public health, with 18,975 cases of pertussis and 3,409 (22,000 estimated) cases of hepatitis B infections reported in the United States in 2017. In light of these challenges, strengthening the vaccine and immunization enterprise is a priority for HHS.
 
To respond to the public health challenges of VPDs, OIDP in collaboration with other federal partners is leading the development of the Vaccines National Strategic Plan (Vaccine Plan). This updated plan will recommend vaccine strategies across the lifespan and guide priority actions for the period 2021-2025. While COVID-19 and coronavirus vaccine development are currently changing the landscape of the vaccine enterprise, the Vaccine Plan has a broad focus on the entire vaccine enterprise and is not focused specifically on any one vaccine or the pandemic response. HHS, through OIDP, seeks input regarding the draft of the Vaccine Plan from subject matter experts and nonfederal partners and stakeholders such as health care providers, national professional organizations, health departments, school administrators, community-based and faith-based organizations, manufacturers, researchers, advocates, and persons affected by VPDs.  
 
Excerpts:
 
Public health officials and researchers need more evidence and understanding around sources of vaccine hesitancy to develop effective strategies to counter it. There is a need to integrate input from a wider range of disciplines, such as anthropology, sociology, and behavioral economics, to study nuanced drivers of vaccine hesitancy and how they vary by geography, sociodemographics, cultural norms and beliefs, and other characteristics.  
 
Goal 3: Increase knowledge of and confidence in routinely recommended vaccines  
Objective 3.4 Reduce disparities and inequities in vaccine confidence and acceptance.
3.4.3. Further develop, implement, and evaluate metrics to better understand vaccine confidence by age, race/ethnicity, geography, education and socioeconomic status over time.   
 
Goal 4: Optimize access to and utilization of all routinely recommended vaccines across the lifespan  
Objective 1: Eliminate geographic, racial/ethnic, and socioeconomic barriers to vaccine access across the lifespan and improve care through quality improvement initiatives  
4.2.1. Support continued research on racial and ethnic, age, social, economic, cultural, and other factors that contribute to disparities in vaccination rates, and develop targeted interventions to address them.  

Goal 5: Protect the health of the nation by supporting global immunization efforts  
Objective 5.1   Support vaccine research and development to address vaccine-preventable diseases of global public health importance.
5.1.4. Explore new avenues, including through multilateral organizations and engaging with health economists and ministers of finance, to develop strong investment cases and secure sustainable financing to foster innovation in vaccine development and delivery mechanisms.
 
FR notice inviting comment:  https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/11/23/2020-25842/request-for-information-rfi-vaccines-national-strategic-plan-available-for-public-comment
 
Point of contact: David Kim, OIDP   David.Kim@hhs.gov   202-795-7636
 
2020 National Vaccine Plan Development: Recommendations From the National Vaccine Advisory Committee   
Published February 14, 2020
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0033354920904074

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