Funding for Vaccination Program Significantly Impacts Immunization Rates

A small increase in funding for vaccination programs can have a significant impact on the number of children who receive necessary vaccinations, according to a new study by researchers at RTI International.

The study, to be published in the September issue of American Journal of Public Health, found that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s Section 317 Grants Program, the main source of funding for state and jurisdictional immunization programs, significantly impacts vaccination coverage rates for children.

David Rein, PhD, a senior researcher at RTI International. Photo by Jimmy Crawford, RTI. 

"Our research indicates that funding for state and local vaccination programs results in better childhood vaccination outcomes," said David Rein, PhD, RTI's principal investigator for the study. "Money invested in vaccination programs improves public health by increasing vaccination coverage among children and reducing the risk of disease outbreaks such as measles, mumps, polio and pertussis that immunizations can prevent."

The researchers found that each per capita increase of $10 to the Section 317 financial assistance program between 1997 and 2003 increased vaccination coverage by 1.6 percentage points. Based on those statistics, the researchers predict with stabilized funding 240,000 more children would have received all necessary immunizations in 2003 if funding for the program had remained at 1997 levels.

"In many instances, the 317 program is the sole source of funding for a wide range of vaccination activities," Rein said. "In many ways the program is an example of a government success story. Reducing funds for vaccination grant programs like Section 317 could hinder the capability of the United States to meet its long-term vaccination objectives."

The authors also suggest that because Section 317 enhances the effectiveness of other federal, state and private vaccination funding, the benefits of the program are likely more significant than the study reflects.

The study was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and based on annual data collected from 1995 to 2003 for all 50 states and six cities. The study was a result of the President's Management Agenda OMB Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) review of the program which required an independent evaluation demonstrating a link between program funding and performance.

Source: RTI International