WASHINGTON—A new executive order is aimed at increasing the manufacturing efficiency and effectiveness of flu vaccines.

The DoD and Department of Health and Human Services are co-chairing a task force in the process of implementing the order signed in September by President Donald Trump,

Established by the executive order is the National Influenza Vaccine Task Force, which will include representatives from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the departments of Justice, Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, and Food and Drug Administration.

Terry M. Rauch, PhD, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for health readiness policy and oversight, pointed out that modernizing flu vaccines in the United States enhances both national security and public health.

“DoD acknowledges and supports the great need for flu vaccines to be rapidly responsive, flexible, scalable and more effective at preventing the spread of flu viruses,” Rauch said.

The executive order seeks to encourage implementation of novel flu vaccines in the United States. Among the goals are:

  • Reducing reliance on egg-based flu vaccine production;
  • Expanding domestic capacity of alternative methods to allow more agile and rapid response to emerging flu viruses; and
  • Advancing development of new, broadly protective vaccines with longer lasting immunity.

Under the order, the DoD’s responsibilities include estimating the costs of transition to scalable, innovative technologies from domestic, manufacturers, as well as coordinating with other agencies to conduct epidemiological studies of vaccine effectiveness. Military health also is being asked to find opportunities to use DoD’s vaccine research and development enterprise and to investigate innovative pathways to facilitate the development of next-generation flu vaccines.

Those efforts “support the National Defense Strategy’s priority to advance readiness of the force, providing the best possible support to our warfighters on the battlefield and back home,” Rauch said. “The U.S. Congress, as well as the public, should remain confident that federal departments and agencies are working together to effectively address influenza as a threat.”

He noted further, “Influenza is a specific threat to U.S. forces,” and, as a result, active-duty, National Guard and Reserve members are required to get the vaccine annually.

Flu vaccination also is a requirement for DoD civilian healthcare personnel, said Tara Reavey, chief of policy and program management for DHA’s Immunization Healthcare Division.