The group is facing a mountain of difficult challenges and
questions. As Feldman points out, the literature on vaccines is
scant, public understanding of risk is spotty, the manufacturing
costs are high, and the financial incentives are few. And there is
a direct correlation between low rates of immunization and high
rates of vaccine-preventable illness and death.
Feldman, along with his colleagues at Penn, Columbia, and
Tokyo, is bringing together scholars, government officials, experts
from international agencies, corporate representatives, and
scientists to work toward reaching a consensus on developing
sensible standards that govern the entire life cycle of vaccines.
As Feldman puts it, “We are asking a range of questions around
which there are widely divergent and sometimes intensely opposing
views. Which vaccines should be mandated? For whom?
Who pays? How should societies balance the incremental improvements
in public health that accompany vaccination with
the attendant increases in harm to some individuals that will
inevitably occur? And how much risk is too much, even if the
underlying benefits of vaccination are clear?”