Every Child By Two asks you to join in urging Congress to protect crucial funding for immunization programs. Politics aside, if and when the Affordable Care Act is repealed, nearly $600 million in funds that currently support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and subsequently state immunization activities will be eliminated.
To ensure that legislators reallocate these funds, we ask you to add your name to Every Child By Two’s Vaccine Funding Support Statement.
In essence, Congressional funding for immunizations supports a vast web of activities, technology and personnel to keep vaccine preventable diseases at bay.
It supports essential activities such as:
- community outreach,
- disease surveillance,
- outbreak control,
- provider and public education,
- immunization registries,
- immunization service delivery,
- staffing and implementation of the Vaccines For Children (VFC) Program (which provides free vaccines to those who qualify under a separate funding stream).
Historically, federal vaccine funding was allocated by Congress via what was called the “Section 317 line item” which is now being referred to as the “Immunization line item”. These vaccine funds are appropriated to the CDC and used to support CDC activities and immunization programs in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, five major cities and eight territories.
However, since 2010, the vaccine funding that was allocated under Section 317 has slowly been supplanted by the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF).
While the PPHF had initially supported various programs, above and beyond those that had previously been supported with 317 vaccine funding, today, more than half of immunization programmatic funding comes from PPHF. As displayed in the chart at right, PPHF now accounts for $600 million of the federal funds devoted to immunizations, including over $402 million supporting core immunization activities.
As we prepare for the imminent repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we must ensure legislators take appropriate action to provide a continued and sustained investment into immunization programs.
Political concerns aside, the focus here is not whether ACA should or should not be repealed. The focus is on preserving the funding for immunization programs.
While Congress debates the replacement package for ACA, it would be very easy for vaccines to get overlooked amidst many different healthcare priorities. However, if ACA is repealed without an intentional replacement of Prevention Funds back to the Section 317/Immunization program line, the results could be catastrophic to the nation’s immunization programs.
Health programs would be impacted by:
- a minimum 45% cut in program dollars,
- massive public health layoffs,
- a massive reduction in state efforts to respond to food borne outbreaks,
- a massive interruption to efforts to prevent emerging infectious diseases like Ebola and Zika,
- a diminished ability to provide an adequate health response to natural and handmade disasters,
- the elimination of targeted health programs such as those that seek to eliminate Hepatitis b among infants, combat cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV), and support adult vaccine initiatives.
Claire Hannan, Executive Director of the Association of Immunization Managers (AIM) states that
“Prevention and Public Health Funds are used as the cornerstone of public health emergency response activities. Without reallocation of those monies, immunization programs throughout the nation will not have the capacity to plan for and respond to emerging virus and disease threats.”
[For a more detailed report from AIM on the potential impact of the elimination of PPHF Funds click here.]
If we want to ensure that the CDC, state and local health departments receive the funding they need to keep our communities safe from deadly but preventable diseases, then take action now. This is not a debate about the merits of repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but rather a request that Congress not forget vaccines during the current and future fiscal year funding deliberations. Keeping our communities healthy is everyone’s responsibility.
Click here to sign the following the Vaccine Funding Support Statement requesting that Congress preserve immunization funding as they work to negotiate the repeal and replacement of the ACA:
Dear Congressional Leaders:
Vaccines are one of the greatest achievements in health, saving millions of lives worldwide as well as trillions of dollars in costs to this country. Over $600 million of Prevention and Public Health Funds (PPHF) have been invested in immunization, including nearly $402 million supporting core immunization activities. At this time nearly 45% of immunization funding comes from PPHF and a cut in this funding source will cripple the nation’s ability to keep vaccine preventable diseases at bay. As you negotiate the replacement of the Affordable Care Act, we urge you to ensure that the funding for vaccine programs that is currently allocated through the Prevention and Public Health Fund is maintained. (http://tinyurl.com/SaveVaccineFunding)
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:
By Amy Pisani
Last week, news hit regarding the investigation of several cases of measles in Boston spurred by an employee of the French Consulate who potentially infected two others; someone living in her building and a restaurant patron in the building where she worked. This week, a separate incident has been reported involving a resident of New Mexico who contracted measles while traveling through Europe. In this case, the infected traveler landed at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, traveled via bus to several locations throughout the District and boarded a plane at Baltimore/Washington airport en route to Albuquerque, New Mexico via another stop at Denver airport. In an effort to contain this disease, public health officials are once again being called upon to investigate the circuitous route taken by this individual who has exposed tens of thousands of people to a highly contagious infectious disease.
It’s important to understand that measles is caused by a virus that is spread from person to person through air particles such as through coughing and sneezing. The measles virus can even hang in the air and live on surfaces for up to two hours. As recently explained by a San Diego public health officer, measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected. It is most infectious approximately 4 days prior to the onset of symptoms, which will include a high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes (often called “pink eye”). A rash soon appears that generally shows first on the face then spreads to the rest of the body and lasts for five days to a week. Thirty percent of reported cases experience one or more complications. Historically, death from measles occurred in approximately 2 per 1,000 reported cases in the United States from 1985 through 1992, and 1 out of every 1,000 children who got measles developed a brain infection, with about 25% of those brain infections resulting in permanent brain damage.
While public health officials are spending significant time and money to track down this recent measles case, our country faces some of the largest budget cuts in recent history and the concern is that the President’s budget does not include an adequate amount of funding to ensure the proper immunization of children, adolescents and adults. Last year’s H1N1 virus serves as a poignant reminder of the necessity of a strong public health infrastructure armed with the tools to rapidly respond to outbreaks of disease that threaten the entire public. Vaccines have been hailed as one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century. It has been clearly documented that vaccines are also the most economical medical intervention available. For instance, for every $1 spent on the combined measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, $26 in medical costs are spared. DTaP vaccine has a similar savings record, with every $1 spent saving $27 in costs. The entire vaccine schedule for children is estimated to save 9.9 billion dollars in direct costs and 43.3 billion dollars in societal costs over the lifetime of a single-year birth cohort. Multiply this by the annual birth cohort (the total number of children born each year in the U.S.) and the savings become exponential. Read more…