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Commentary

A Vaccination Against Complacency
Wendy Everett, The Boston Globe, 6-13-06

Everett has produced an eloquent op–ed on the enormous health impact of vaccines, and why policymakers need to find ways to sustain investment in vaccinations and encourage wider vaccination programs.

Vaccines are one of the greatest public health achievements. The threats posed by smallpox, polio, or typhoid are nearly nonexistent in the developed world. Vaccines ensure that each one of us lives a longer and healthier life.

Unfortunately, that success has bred complacency. The more effective vaccines have become in eradicating diseases, the less Americans have come to appreciate their value and importance to their health.

Over the past three decades, declining financial incentives and increasing costs of producing safe and effective vaccines have reduced the number of companies engaged in the development of vaccines from 25 to five. There needs to be ways of supporting, not suppressing, the quest to develop life–saving vaccines.

Despite the fact that vaccines are among the most cost-effective public health interventions, there is not equal access for everyone. The Institute of Medicine recently stated that the fragmented healthcare payment model has created increasing disparities in access to vaccines. State and federal budget cuts have only made this problem worse. There needs to be a more equitable system of paying for vaccines, so that everyone can get these important drugs.



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