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The National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC)

Executive Summary

The disease burden due to the occurrences of vaccine-preventable diseases is staggering. Each year in the United States at least 45,000 adults die of complications of influenza, pneumococcal infections, and hepatitis B. The overall cost to society of these and other vaccine-preventable diseases of adults exceed $10 billion each year, not including the value of years of life lost. Vaccines to prevent these diseases are very effective, but widely under used. Utilization of influenza vaccines has been progressively improving over the last eight to nine years but greater coverage is needed, particularly in certain groups.

Beginning in 1992, with the assistance of staff from the National Vaccine Program Office and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Subcommittee on Adult Immunization of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee began the process of developing a report on adult immunization. A final report was approved by the NVAC in January, 1994. In that same year, the report was printed and distributed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and a summary was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The NVAC report included five major goals for adult immunization in the United States, 18 recommendations for achieving the goals, and 72 strategies for implementing the recommendations. While several of the strategies delineated in this exhaustive report have been carried out by Federal agencies such as the development of a pandemic influenza preparedness plan and strategies for emerging infectious diseases, there has been no systematic effort to address all of its components.

In October 1996, the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services convened a working group representing agencies and organizations within the Department to develop a Department-wide action plan for immunization. The working group acknowledged that the NVAC report provided a comprehensive approach for attacking the problem and chose to use the goals described in the report as the framework for formulating the action plan.

The Workgroup chose the adult immunization goals of Healthy People 2000: National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives, as performance measures for the successful implementation of the Adult Immunization Action Plan. Within these Year 2000 objectives, the Workgroup selected as priorities immunization coverage rates for adults aged 65 and older for influenza and pneumococcal vaccines (60% for noninstitutionalized [living in the community] and 80% for the institutionalized); immunization of high risk populations under 65 with influenza and pneumococcal vaccines (coverage goals vary from 60-90% depending on high risk group); and hepatitis B coverage for occupationally exposed workers (90%) and other high-risk individuals (50%).

Last revised: August 19, 2005


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