It’s been just over a year since the Adult Vaccine Access Coalition (AVAC) launched on Capitol Hill to raise awareness, improve access, and increase utilization of vaccines among adults. Vaccines protect us from a variety of common diseases that can be serious and even deadly. Every year more than 50,000 adults in the United States die—and thousands more suffer serious health problems—from vaccine preventable diseases. Near universal access to immunizations for children was one of the greatest public health accomplishments of the 20th century. AVAC seeks to achieve the same level of success when it comes to immunizations among adults.
Having a functioning adult vaccine infrastructure is essential so that our country can respond correctly in the face of an emergency threats such as Zika, Measles, or Pandemic flu. It is essential that we get the right vaccines get to the right people at the right time.
However, multiple barriers exist that make it difficult for adults to get their recommended vaccines—these include lack of information, financial hurdles, varying insurance coverage for vaccines, and technological and logistical obstacles. AVAC works to remove these barriers through increased use of health information technology, including Immunization Information Systems; improved monitoring and reporting by federal agencies that oversee immunizations; and increasing adult immunization rates among at-risk populations, such as seniors, people of color, limited English proficient persons, and those with chronic illness.
We’re proud of what AVAC has accomplished in these priority areas over the past year! Now more than 50 organizations strong, AVAC is a diverse group of healthcare providers, vaccine makers, pharmacies, public health leaders and patient advocates all committed to ensuring that adults in the U.S receive the vaccines they need. The coalition has established important relationships with officials in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, works closely with dozens of bipartisan Members of Congress, and continues to create new alliances with like-minded organizations and advocates.
Here’s a snapshot of our activities over the past year:
- Encouraging broader immunization coverage under Medicare by addressing cost barriers that prevent Medicare beneficiaries from accessing immunizations under Part D.
- Raising awareness of the importance of Immunization Information Systems (IIS) by hosting congressional briefings and writing funding support letters to members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.
- Bringing together renowned public health and vaccine experts to publish a landmark white paper, The Value and Imperative of Quality Measures for Adult Vaccines, that highlights how robust quality measures for vaccines can prevent illness and death, reduce caregiving demands, save unnecessary healthcare spending, and set the foundation for healthy aging.
- Communicating to regulatory agencies, such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the need for up-to-date, streamlined quality measures to improve adult immunization rates among at-risk populations.
AVAC is poised to tackle even bigger things in 2017. We will work to protect and enhance vaccination infrastructure and coverage as part of any health reform process. We will also continue to work closely to implement the goals and objectives of the National Adult Immunization Plan (NAIP) to improve access and demand for adult immunizations.
It’s been an amazing year. AVAC will continue to work with Members of Congress and the incoming Administration on legislation and regulations that ensure all adults —no matter their age, location, or socioeconomic status—will be able to access and afford lifesaving vaccines. Stay tuned for more exciting news from AVAC!