Urgent action is needed to address current shortages of key vaccines and to improve the stability of future supplies, experts said today at a scientific colloquium backed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). “Vaccine security – the sustained, uninterrupted supply of affordable vaccines – is at risk,” UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy told the meeting in Cold Spring, New York. “While there is a growing divide between vaccines given to children in developing and developed countries, shortages affect both.” During the past year, the United States could not meet demand for five vaccines that prevent eight childhood diseases, according to UNICEF. In developing countries, the reduced number of qualified manufacturers has led to serious risks of vaccine shortages for four basic vaccines that prevent six childhood diseases, including measles and whooping cough. Ms. Bellamy blamed this problem in part on reduced production. “A key factor is that there are fewer manufacturers, especially of basic vaccines where profitability is lower,” she said. The three-day colloquium, organized by the Sabin Vaccine Institute, brings together 35 key representatives of public health agencies, manufacturing companies and policy-making groups.