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Vaccines Play Role In Preventing Disease Outbreaks But Strengthening Health Systems Vital To Prevention

The Hill: Let’s not rely on vaccines, here’s how we can prepare for epidemics now
Marian Wentworth, president and CEO of Management Sciences for Health

“…Vaccines are a critical public health resource. But it is important to acknowledge that they are not a speedy, inexpensive, or fail-safe solution. … [E]ven if we develop a vaccine for every possibility, they still have limitations. Local communities must therefore be prepared to prevent and contain outbreaks and limit the impact of those outbreaks on health care and public services. Preparation means having comprehensive, resilient primary health care services and systems in place with working components: strong leadership, engaged communities, laboratories and hospitals, pharmaceutical systems, supply chains, and disease surveillance systems. … For policymakers in the United States and around the world seeking to prevent the next major outbreak of disease, vaccines are a key component of epidemic prevention. But investing now in building strong health systems that can prevent, identify, and effectively respond to disease outbreaks is an inexpensive, and extremely effective effort” (6/12).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.