Jeffry John Aufderheide
August 26, 2009
The pieces of the pandemic puzzle are coming together as the H1N1 Swine Flu hysteria is reaching new heights. A largely uncovered white paper published by RAND Corporation in March of 2009, sponsored by pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur, identifies parental consent laws, medical homes, and lack of access to medical records as main barriers “for immunizing low-income adolescents.” The solution proposed to Sanofi Pasteur? Turn schools into a vaccine wonderland.
The triad of barriers to mass-vaccinate adolescents which were identified in RAND Corp’s white paper are:
1. Parental Consent Laws
2. Absence of a reliable Medical Home
3. Access to vaccine registration information
There are many relevant quotes throughout the white-paper to support this claim. Here are just a few…
“It would appear at first blush that vaccinating teens in a school setting would be a practical way to address the barriers posed by the lack of a medical home.
Schools are the only place where the vast majority of adolescents are found consistently and predictably ( pg 19) (emphasis mine)
“Many of the barriers we identified—while seemingly distinct—were tied to current consent laws. We found that the requirement that parental consent for vaccination be provided in real time clearly limits the vaccination of adolescents in venues such as schools, where parents and adolescents are not likely to be together.” ( pg 27) (emphasis mine)
“Ambiguity and variability in consent laws also hinder the role of alternative vaccinators and the use of information technology to improve documentation, management, and communication. Current approaches for collecting consent … impede effective and efficient program management that might be possible with modernized parental consent laws.“ ( pg 27) (emphasis mine)
While immunization registries have traditionally focused on younger children,
improving their utility for the adolescent population has great potential to facilitate
improvement in the management of adolescent vaccination programs. One
natural partnership, not yet fully realized, is with local schools. ( pg 44) (emphasis mine)
According to the preface of the document, this endeavor started in 2007 as Sanofi Pasteur desired information concerning the current logistical climate for vaccinating the less fortunate. However, the title of the document, ‘Strategies and Models for Promoting Adolescent Vaccination for Low-Income Population’ is misleading. The recommendations that RAND produced for Sanofi Pasteur have ramifications for the entire scholastic population, as shown in the following passage.
“Although our original charge was to focus on low-income adolescents,we found the current policy and practice infrastructure supporting the vaccination of the general population of adolescents to be underdeveloped and thus unlikely to yield substantial increases in vaccination uptake among low-income adolescents in the absence of structural change. For this reason, we addressed the issue of adolescent immunization from a broad perspective, identifying more general approaches that can be tailored to low-income populations, and addressed specific issues and challenges for low-income adolescents where appropriate. ” ( pg 5)(emphasis mine)
It is critical to bring into focus throughout the entirety of this article who is the intended audience of the RAND Corp dossier: Sanofi Pasteur.
UNDERSTANDING OF CONTEXT
We must understand where this report came from. It most certainly did not randomly fall out of the sky and softly land on the lap of an innocent onlooker at Sanofi. Nor is it by chance RAND was engaged for researching this specific topic. Interestingly, the subject of addressing a pandemic influenza has been on RAND Corporation’s radar for some period of time and it would only make sense that a manufacturer of vaccines would have a keen interest in RAND’s insider knowledge.
You may be asking yourself at this point, “Who is RAND Corporation?”
“RAND Corporation(Research ANd Development) is a nonprofit global policy think tank first formed to offer research and analysis to the United States armed forces by Douglas Aircraft Company and currently financed predominantly by the U.S. government, a private endowment, predominantly pharmaceutical corporations, universities and private individuals. The organization has long since expanded to working with other governments, private foundations, international organizations, and commercial organizations on a host of non-defense issues.”