States have reduced funding for immunizations, while at the same time vaccine costs continue to rise. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) found that in response to state budget cuts, most reduced the scale of effort of their immunization activities, commonly reducing outreach, education efforts, and vaccine delivery arrangements with contractors. Half of the states have reported that budget cuts affected staffing, requiring them to reduce immunization program personnel, consolidate positions, or leave vacancies unfilled. 1
IOM’s Calling The Shots report states that, “immunization financing was explicitly structured to be a federal-state partnership…federal policymakers never expected federal funds to be sufficient to cover the full cost of vaccine purchase and delivery for disadvantaged groups… and federal funds are provided to supplement, not supplant, state investments in immunization programs.” Various opinions regarding state versus federal roles in the purchase of vaccines exist among the vaccine advocacy community. However, all clearly agree that decreased state investments paired with insufficient federal funding must be remedied in order to insure an equitable distribution of vaccines among all U.S. children.
In response to the funding crisis ECBT partnered with a number of immunization advocacy groups to form the “317 Coalition”. The 317 Coalition advocates for increasing the Federal funding for the National Immunization Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, commonly known as "section 317" of the Public Health Service Act. Section 317 provides a safety net program of grants to states to immunize children, adolescents and adults who have no other means to pay for vaccinations.
1 Calling the Shots: Immunization Finance Policies and Practices. (Washington, D.C.: Institute
of Medicine, 2000.