Executive Order 13887 establishes the National Influenza Vaccine Task Force, comprised of senior officials from eleven governmental agencies, with the goals of increasing influenza vaccine compliance, improving the ability to rapidly develop accurate vaccines, and protecting the American people from a flu pandemic, which would disproportionately affect the young, the old, and those with compromised immune systems.
This Task Force aims to modernize the domestic influenza vaccine enterprise, increase the potential for response scalability, and facilitate communication with the general public to increase understanding and vaccine decision-making capacity. The Task Force will create a five-year national plan regarding strategies for promoting responsive and flexible vaccine development and manufacturing.
This Executive Order also requires certain federal agencies to perform specific actions in relation to the domestic influenza vaccine enterprise. Agencies are expected to carry out these actions within their existing budgets, without any additional authorities or appropriations. The duties of the agencies in the Task Force are as follows:
Influenza vaccine development depends on predictions of what the seasonal virus might look like and utilizes the egg method for production, which takes time and introduces mutations that may decrease the efficacy of the vaccine. Public health officials at the CDC encourage nearly every American to get an annual influenza shot in order to achieve community immunity, which occurs when 95% of people are vaccinated. Community immunity protects virtually everyone, including the very young, the very old, and medically exempted people who are unable to get the vaccine. According to the bill, there is only a 45% influenza vaccination rate in the US, putting many unvaccinated Americans in a vulnerable position.