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, 32 (7), 766-70

Approved but Non-Funded Vaccines: Accessing Individual Protection


Approved but Non-Funded Vaccines: Accessing Individual Protection

David W Scheifele et al. Vaccine.


Funded immunization programs are best able to achieve high participation rates, optimal protection of the target population, and indirect protection of others. However, in many countries public funding of approved vaccines can be substantially delayed, limited to a portion of the at-risk population or denied altogether. In these situations, unfunded vaccines are often inaccessible to individuals at risk, allowing potentially avoidable morbidity and mortality to continue to occur. We contend that private access to approved but unfunded vaccines should be reconsidered and encouraged, with recognition that individuals have a prerogative to take advantage of a vaccine of potential benefit to them whether it is publicly funded or not. Moreover, numbers of "approved but unfunded" vaccines are likely to grow because governments will not be able to fund all future vaccines of potential benefit to some citizens. New strategies are needed to better use unfunded vaccines even though the net benefits will fall short of those of funded programs. Canada, after recent delays funding several new vaccine programs, has developed means to encourage private vaccine use. Physicians are required to inform relevant patients about risks and benefits of all recommended vaccines, publicly funded or not. Likewise, some provincial public health departments now recommend and promote both funded and unfunded vaccines. Pharmacists are key players in making unfunded vaccines locally available. Professional organizations are contributing to public and provider education about unfunded vaccines (e.g. herpes zoster, not funded in any province). Vaccine companies are gaining expertise with direct-to-consumer advertising. However, major challenges remain, such as making unfunded vaccines more available to low-income families and overcoming public expectations that all vaccines will be provided cost-free, when many other recommended personal preventive measures are user-pay. The greatest need is to change the widespread perception that approved vaccines should be publicly funded or ignored.

Keywords: Immunization; Immunization policy; Non-funded vaccines; Vaccine cost-effectiveness.

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