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Structure and Conflict of Interest

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) was established in 1964 by the U.S. Surgeon General to assist in the prevention and control of communicable diseases, and includes a chair, an executive secretary, 15 voting members, 8 ex officio members and liaison representatives from 26 health-related professional organizations. Meetings are regularly convened at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and are open to the public. Stringent measures and rigorous screening are used to avoid both real and apparent conflicts of interest, and no special interest or lobbying groups provide any material support to ACIP or its members. The committee recommends licensed new vaccines to be incorporated into the routine immunization schedule, recommends vaccine formulations, and reviews older vaccines to consider revising its recommendations.

Candidates for ACIP membership undergo careful and rigorous screening for potential conflicts of interest. Stringent measures are taken not only to assure technical compliance with ethics statutes and regulations regarding financial conflicts but also to address more general concerns regarding any potential appearance of conflict of interest. Candidates with specific vaccine-related interests at the time of application are not considered for appointment by the committee. Potential members are asked to resign for their term of membership from any activities that are, or could be construed as, conflicts of interest. Members are required to file confidential financial reports every year with the Office of Government Ethics and to disclose publicly all vaccine-related interests and work, including participation in clinical trials, at each meeting. They must also declare conflicts at each meeting of ACIP work group. Any single conflict, real or apparent, may serve to disqualify a participant from participating in a work group. Despite these safeguards, a conflict exists, limited waivers allow members to participate in committee discussions on condition that they are prohibited from voting on matters involving the specific or competing vaccine manufacturers. A member who develops an important conflict of interest during the 4-year term is required to resign from the ACIP. External consultants may participate despite conflicts of interest if they bring specific expertise, as long as their conflicts are declared and recorded at the beginning of each meeting. No special interest or lobbying groups provide any funding or any other material support to ACIP or its members.

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