One year after Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts introduced the Flu Vaccine Act, he and a number of US Senators are reintroducing the bill to pay for 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 is calling 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). Senator Markey and his colleagues were able to secure a dedicated $100 million and $140 million for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, respectively, for universal flu vaccine research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases within NIH.
“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.”
“Year in and year out, the flu is a hardship for American families. But with further research and development, we can achieve a universal flu vaccine,” said Senator Angus King of Maine. “By increasing funding for our scientists and health care professionals, we can take a critical step towards protecting Americans, improving public health, and making the world a safer place for us all.”
Senators co-sponsoring the Flu Vaccine Act are Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Angus King (I-Maine.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).