Researcher calls for greater pediatric vaccine collaboration

A University of Illinois researcher announced that vaccine manufacturers and health officials need to collaborate more closely in order to reduce the likelihood of supply shortages for pediatric vaccines.

Sheldon H. Jacobson, a researcher specializing in statistics and data analysis, said in a recently published research paper that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s Pediatric Vaccine Stockpile Program should not only be seen as a repository of vaccines, but also a repository for opportunities, reports.

“We hear a lot about bioterrorism and pandemics, but the fact of the matter is, the threat to routine immunization is one of the greatest threats we face,” Jacobson told “If we had problems with our vaccine supply chain, it would have the potential to cause more deaths than any of those other issues.”

Jacobson said that managing pediatric vaccine stockpiles should not only be limited to increasing the levels of the stockpile.

“Just like perishable goods, vaccines have a shelf life,” Jacobson told “They're not like canned goods that you can simply stockpile and forget about for an extended period of time. When you have finite economic resources, you have to make choices. But we also want to create a buffer that will create the widest possible public health safety net.”

Jacobson looked at mortality and morbidity of diseases to determine optimal stockpile levels. He told that this was a good way to minimize the risk of shortage and maximize coverage opportunities while minimizing costs.

According to Jacobson, the duration of vaccine shortages over the past 10 years has fallen between 16 to 18 months.

“Even though we're preparing for six months out, we never see six months,” Jacobson told “The shortest time period in the last 10 years has been a seven month period. That's a byproduct of one-size-fits-all policy for stockpiles. Although it's easy and simple to do, it's not the most efficient policy. We need to re-engineer the objectives of our pediatric vaccine stockpiles and establish more flexible policies for maximizing their utility.”

Jacobson recommends a stochastic model to determine the stockpile levels. He said this type of system would minimize the risk of a vaccine shortage during a supply interruption and would maintain a given coverage rate.

“When we're talking about vaccines, equal is not effective,” Jacobson said, reports. “The recent pertussis outbreaks in California and Ohio highlight the needs for differentiated stockpile levels, meaning we have to look at the characteristics of the diseases in terms of achieving herd immunity as well as how deadly the disease is.”