Before the development of vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) and diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP), morbidity and mortality from these diseases were significant in the US. The widespread use of the MMR and DTP vaccines has reduced cases, making these diseases rare.

However, recent measles outbreaks and the resurgence of mumps and pertussis across the US have demonstrated that public health laboratories must maintain the capability and capacity to respond effectively to re-emerging vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs).

Public health laboratories help detect and respond to VPD outbreaks through routine surveillance, and diagnostic and confirmatory testing. They use a combination of diagnostic techniques, including culture, serology, antigen detection and PCR, to detect and characterize VPDs.
APHL promotes the role of state and local public health laboratories in the detection and surveillance of VPDs by improving knowledge, providing trainings and ensuring quality information exchange.

Vaccine Preventable Disease Reference Centers

In 2013, APHL and CDC selected four public health laboratories (CA, MN, NY and WI) to serve as VPD Reference Centers. In 2019, APHL and CDC recompeted the four reference centers; eligibility parameters and seit selection can be found on the APHL Request for Proposals site. 

The VPD Reference Centers perform molecular testing for seven VPDs (measles, mumps, rubella, varicella zoster virus, Bordetella pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae and Neisseria meningitides) on behalf of other public health laboratories that have enrolled as submitting sites. The Reference Centers also offer proficiency testing for molecular testing for VPDs to other public health laboratories.

As of July 2017, testing for Streptococcus pneumoniae has moved from the VPD Reference Centers to the Antibiotic Resistance (AR) Lab Network. Your testing laboratories have not changed, however the submission instructions and shipping processes have. For current submission instructions, contact the AR Lab Network​ Regional Laboratories at the Minnesota Public Health Laboratory (health.ARLNMN@state.mn.us) or the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene (wiARLN@slh.wisc.edu).

Diagnostic Fact Sheets, FAQs

Testing for VPDs may involve a combination of molecular and serologic assays, making interpretation of the results complex. To aid in decipheri​ng test results, APHL has developed a series of fact sheets and frequently asked questions:

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Interested in enrolling as a VPD Reference Center submitting site?