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Your Signature Needed to Preserve Congressional Immunization Funds

January 25, 2017 34 comments

capitolEvery 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  Politics aside, if and when the Affordable Care Act is repealed, nearly $600 million in funds that currently support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and subsequently state immunization activities will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).

Background:

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.  

screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-4-23-54-pmHowever, 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.

Current Situation:

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Political concerns aside, the focus here is not whether ACA should or should not be repealed.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.]

Take Action:

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)

What is the Public Health Preparedness of our Nation?

January 18, 2017 2 comments
The Trust For America’s Health (TFAH) recently examined the nation’s ability to respond to public health emergencies.  They tracked progress and vulnerabilities, and included a review of state and federal public health preparedness policies. In their report titled Ready or Not? Protecting the Public from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism, they found that 26 states and Washington, D.C. scored a six or lower on 10 key indicators of public health preparedness.screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-12-17-13-pm
As Every Child By Two continues to report on the State of the ImmUnion, we’ve asked Trust for America’s Health to elaborate on the vaccine section of their report in the following guest post co-authored by Dara Alpert Lieberman, MPP, Senior Government Relations Manager and Albert Lang, Senior Communications Manager.

The Importance of Vaccines Can Never be Overstated

logo-1In the most recent report on public health preparedness from the Trust For America’s Health (TFAH), there is a line about vaccines that bears repeating:

“Some of the greatest public health successes of the past century — including the worldwide eradication of smallpox and the elimination of polio, measles and rubella in the United States — are the result of successful vaccination programs.”

Yet, somewhere along the way we lost our wonder in the awe-inspiring results vaccines produce.

A recent model estimated that, from 1994-2013, the Vaccines for Children program prevented as many as 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths at a net savings of $1.38 trillion in societal costs. And, each year, we know that three million lives are saved because vaccines exist and are administered. According to the CDC:

  • Nearly everyone in the U.S. got measles before there was a vaccine, and hundreds died from it each year. Today, most doctors have never seen a case of measles.
  • More than 15,000 Americans died from diphtheria in 1921, before there was a vaccine. Only one case of diphtheria has been reported to CDC since 2004.
  • An epidemic of rubella (German measles) in 1964-65 infected 12.5 million Americans, killed 2,000 babies, and caused 11,000 miscarriages. In 2012, 9 cases of rubella were reported to CDC.

If you think this is hyperbole, remember that we effectively eliminated measles in the United States in 2000, yet, since 2014, we have experienced a resurgent number of measles cases, largely among people who were unvaccinated.

In our recent report, Ready or Not? Protecting the Public from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism, we found that just 10 states vaccinated at least half of their population against the seasonal flu.

We like to use this as a bit of a proxy indicator. Basically, if we can’t vaccine a large portion of the population for something that is more or less the norm, what are the odds we could quickly vaccinate a majority of the population during a pandemic. For example, if there was a vaccine for Zika, would the nation been able to dispense it?

Another lesson we can draw from vaccination rates: when we become complacent, our preparedness suffers. We can’t let vaccine complacency continue. To improve vaccination rates, TFAH’s report included policy recommendations such as: Read more…