The Dangerous Decline in the United States Military's Infectious Disease Vaccine Program
Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States
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For over 230 years, vaccines advanced by the United States US military research and development R and D community have dramatically reduced the impact of naturally-acquired infections not only on Americas armed forces but society at large. In recent years, however, the militarys infectious disease vaccine program has lost considerable emphasis, funding and mission capability. With the burgeoning concern for weaponized bio-agents in Iraq and North Korea in the 1990s, Congress turned its attention to combating biological threats of deliberate origin over those of natural causes. The Department of Defense DOD responded by partitioning its biodefense and infectious disease vaccine acquisition programs, with biodefense vaccines holding a higher acquisition priority and receiving more robust funding than infectious disease vaccines. The result has been a significant erosion of the DODs ability to ensure the acquisition and availability. This paper will argue that the DOD needs to take swift actions to revitalize its infectious disease vaccine program and enhance the synergy between biodefense and infectious disease activities in order to resolve vaccine acquisition and availability shortfalls.