The following HTML text is provided to enhance online
readability. Many aspects of typography translate only awkwardly to HTML.
Please use the page image
as the authoritative form to ensure accuracy.
Setting the Course: A Strategic Vision for Immunization, Part 2 Summary of the Austin Workshop
sues in Texas offered valuable lessons for all who want to strengthen the nation’s immunization system. Adequate funding is necessary for immunization programs, but it is not sufficient to guarantee success. Similarly, no one agency or group in the public or the private sector should expect, or be expected, to solve immunization problems alone. Collaboration, consultation, and partnerships across levels of government and between the public and private sectors are essential for the efforts made to achieve immunization goals to be effective. The workshop underscored the importance of learning from the experience of private providers, who see critical barriers and limitations in both public and private financing for the purchase of vaccines and payment for immunization services. Also evident from the workshop discussions is the need for immunization supporters in the public health community—in health departments as well as in academia—to communicate more effectively with key partners in the private sector. For example, immunization policy makers and program managers must work more closely with health plans and employers to ensure that immunization recommendations and goals are clear. Furthermore, problems of vaccine shortages and vaccine distribution must be addressed. Finally, Dr. Guyer urged building on the strong public support of immunization, which was evident at the workshop, to achieve the desired changes and improvements in the operation and financing of immunization programs.
Looking specifically to Texas, Dr. Droge, president of the Texas Pediatric Society, pointed to several next steps suggested by the workshop. Legislative support will be essential to efforts to improve the effectiveness of the immunization system, such as making modifications to the immunization registry. Representative Delisi’s participation in the workshop and representation by other state legislative offices in the workshop were seen as an encouraging signal. Within the provider community, more can be done to make immunization a priority and to encourage participation in immunization programs such as VFC. Efforts are needed to reach not only pediatricians and family physicians but also internists, who serve an underimmunized adult population. The workshop helped reveal the complexity of the current approach to immunization finance and service delivery in Texas, with a patchwork of various federal and state programs for insurance and vaccine purchase, combined with the diversity of private-sector insurance and health care delivery. Dr. Droge urged workshop participants to work toward simplifying this system. As part of that effort, she encouraged them to explore the feasibility of a universal vaccine purchase program for Texas that might be built on a public-private partnership, drawing not only on public funding from federal and state sources but also on private funding from health plans, insurers, employers, and other purchasers of health care services.