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DeLauro, Markey Reintroduce Legislation to More Than Double Investment in Universal Flu Vaccine

February 26, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC (February 26, 2019)  Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today reintroduced the Flu Vaccine Act, legislation to conduct or support comprehensive research for the creation of a universal influenza vaccine that could protect against multiple strains of the flu virus and offer longer lasting protection. The legislation calls for a total investment of $1 billion—$200,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2020 through 2024 for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) within NIH received $140 million for universal flu vaccine research in fiscal year 2019. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shown that this year’s flu vaccine has been only 50 percent effective at best.

“Every year, more than 200,000 Americans are hospitalized from the flu and flu-related complications,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “The flu vaccine is our most critical line of defense against this epidemic, yet health officials are forced to predict what strains the annual flu vaccine should try to combat in any given flu season. The Flu Vaccine Act would fix this problem by investing in the creation of a universal flu vaccine—saving lives by taking the guesswork out of the equation. More than 100 years after the Spanish influenza killed tens of millions across the globe—including my own grandfather—we can and we must do better.”

“America’s scientists and clinicians are the heavy hitters in health and disease research, and it is up to the United States to lead the world in improving and enhancing the response to the flu,” said Senator Markey. “We must enhance our ability to predict the right strain for the next season, produce a more optimal vaccine, and protect all Americans against all strains of this virus. With increased research funding, hard-working health care providers, and brilliant scientific investigators, we are the closet we have ever been to ensuring a flu-free future. The bases are loaded, and the Flu Vaccine Act will help us knock this public health menace out of the park.”

The text of the Flu Vaccine Act can be found here.