The National Vaccine Advisory Committee at 30: Impact and opportunity

Volume 36, Issue 11   Pages 1323-1520 (7 March 2018)

The National Vaccine Advisory Committee at 30: Impact and opportunity
Review article
Pages 1330-1344
Kimberly M. Thompson, Bruce G. Gellin, Alan R. Hinman, Walter A. Orenstein
Thirty years after passage of legislation that created the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) “to achieve optimal prevention of human infectious diseases through immunization and to achieve optimal prevention against adverse reactions to vaccines,” this review reflects NVAC’s role and impact on the U.S. vaccine and immunization enterprise as an external advisor to the Department of Health and Human Services. We reviewed the history of NVAC in the context of the principles of its establishment, with a focus on its reports and recommendations. We performed a systematic literature review to identify NVAC reports published in widely-accessible public health journals, and we reviewed the available archives to identify other reports and resolutions approved by the committee not published in journals. We characterized key issues considered by NVAC according to the five goals of the 2010 National Vaccine Plan. The predominance of NVAC activities to date related to the implementation of immunization across the lifespan and the many aspects of the system needed to foster the goal of full immunization. Reflecting on the impacts of NVAC to date, this review identified 30 NVAC approved reports published in journals, 22 stand-alone resolutions, and 26 unique unpublished reports. The development of new and improved vaccines continues to represent a significant priority for NVAC, and we identified several challenges related to future vaccine innovation. Given the many factors that impact on policy changes in the vaccine and immunization enterprise, we encountered challenges associated with demonstrating attribution of specific policy changes to NVAC recommendations. Although difficult to quantify, this review suggests that NVAC played an important role in the improvements in the U.S. immunization enterprise over the past 30 years and that NVAC can and will continue to play an important role supporting U.S. immunization going forward.