Take Action to Demand Federal Funding of Immunization Programs
Right now, we need the voice of constituents to help support our nation’s immunization infrastructure.
Every Child By Two, as one of the founding members of the 317 Coalition, has been actively engaged with other leaders in the immunization community in advocating for federal appropriations to support our nation’s immunization infrastructure. The focus of the 317 Coalition is to ensure that Congress adequately funds vaccine activities at the national, state and local levels.
However, as budgets continue to dwindle, legislators need to hear from constituents, like yourself, who agree that funding for vaccines is the most cost-effective health intervention known to mankind. That is why Every Child By Two is encouraging everyone to take action and contact your federal representatives in support of robust funding in the FY 2016 Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill for the CDC’s Section 317 Immunization program.
The majority of Section 317 program funds, over 75%, are used to support critical infrastructure functions such as vaccine effectiveness studies, disease surveillance, outbreak detection and response, vaccine coverage assessment, vaccine safety and provider education programming. A smaller portion supports vaccine purchases for adult immunization programs that help to achieve high vaccination coverage, reduce health disparities among various populations, and provide underserved populations with vaccines to protect them from disease. Quite simply, the mission of the coalition is to educate Members of Congress about the needs of the CDC immunization program, and not make or attempt to influence immunization policy.
Our nation was fortunate that the 317 program was funded at $611 million in FY 2015. Looking ahead, the House of Representatives has proposed to reduce funding of the program to $585.5 million in FY 2016, while the Senate maintains level funding at $611 million. If the program were to be funded at the House’s proposed funding level, the reduction in funding of over $25 million would most certainly harm the immunization infrastructure, as well as reduce adult vaccine purchase functions in every state.
Therefore, we strongly encourage you to alert your representatives about the importance of 317 funding, and urge them to support the Senate’s FY 2016 funding level of $611 million.
What you can do:
Contact your representatives in the House and Senate and tell them how important it is that they support the Senate’s proposed funding level of $611 million for the CDC’s 317 immunization program.
You can find your representatives here, or by calling (202) 224-3121. You’ll most likely be leaving a message with a staffer. Let them know how critical it is to fully fund immunization infrastructure. If you have a specific concern about a state or local immunization issue (disease outbreak, low immunization rates, etc) then prepare a comment that addresses these concerns.
As an example, you could leave a message similar to this:
“Can you please let (name of Senator/Representative) know that as a constituent from (name of your town), I’m asking for (him/her) to support level funding for the CDC’s 317 program. It’s so important to know that my family and I have access to vaccines, especially with all the outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases that are occurring nationwide.”
Explore the 317 Coalition’s website to learn more about the 317 program, and this page to learn how much 317 funding your state receives.
Things to know/mention when talking to your state representatives:
- Ask for support of the Senate’s funding level of $611 million for the CDC’s 317 immunization program.
- Indicate that vaccines are one of the greatest success stories in public health and are among the most cost-effective ways to prevent disease. We know that for each dollar invested in the U.S. childhood immunization program, there are over ten dollars of societal savings and three dollars in direct medical savings. Moreover, childhood immunizations over the past twenty years have prevented 322 million illnesses, 732,000 deaths, and nearly $1.4 trillion in societal costs.
- 2014 saw the largest number of cases of measles in the U.S. since the disease was eliminated in 2000, with over 644 reported cases across 27 states. CDC estimates that it can cost over $140,000 to contain each individual case of measles.
- The 317 program serves as the key backbone for the national Vaccines for Children program to provide vaccine purchase funding for children, and it also supports the science that informs our national immunization policy, monitors the safety of vaccines and assists community education and outreach activities.
- The 317 program also provides a safety net to uninsured, low-income adults for vaccine purchases.
- The program conducts surveillance, laboratory testing and epidemiology to respond to disease outbreaks. For example, during the 2015 measles outbreak, 317 funds supported local and state health departments in rapid response, public health communication, data gathering and diagnostics.