A vaccine against pandemic influenza may be rapidly and widely distributed, and could be used in populations with little prior exposure to influenza vaccines. Under such conditions, it will be important to gain timely information about the rates of vaccine adverse events, ideally by using electronic data from large populations. Many public and private health plans and payers have such information.Methods
Between May and September 2007, we conducted a decision maker interview and technical assessment with several health plans in the United States. The interview and survey evaluated technical capability, organizational capacity, and willingness to participate in a coordinated program of rapid safety research targeting pandemic and other influenza vaccines.Results
Eleven health plans (eight private, three public) participated in the decision maker interview. Most interviewees were medical directors or held similar positions within their organizations. Participating plans provided coverage and/or care for approximately 150 million members in the U.S. Nine health plans completed a technical assessment survey. Most decision makers indicated interest and willingness to participate in a coordinated rapid safety surveillance program, and all reported the necessary claims data analysis experience. Respondents noted legal, procedural, budgetary, and technical barriers to participation.Conclusions
Senior decision makers representing private and public health plans were willing and asserted the ability of their organizations to participate in pandemic influenza vaccine safety monitoring. Developing working relationships, negotiating contracts, and obtaining necessary regulatory and legal approvals were identified as key barriers. These findings may be generalizable to other vaccines and pharmaceutical products.