Washington (November 19, 2021) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) today reintroduced the Flu Vaccine Act, legislation to conduct or support comprehensive research for the creation of a universal influenza vaccine or prevention that protects against multiple strains of the flu virus and offers longer-lasting protection. The legislation calls for a total investment of $1 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for this research. Senator Markey and his colleagues were able to secure $540 million in appropriations over the past three years for universal flu vaccine research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases within NIH, including $200 million in fiscal year 2020.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep the nation, America’s scientists and clinicians remain at the epicenter of health and disease research and innovation. It is up to the United States to not only lead the world in improving the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but to also enhance our response to the flu,” said Senator Markey. “We are on the brink of a flu-free future and the Flu Vaccine Act can play an indispensable role in reaching that vision for our world. I am pleased we were able to secure $220 million in last year’s spending package for this research, however our work here is not done.”
“With the creation of the COVID-19 vaccines, we have seen firsthand the benefits of providing scientists with the resources they need to study and create vaccines,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “We must approach the universal flu vaccine with the same attention and focus. Influenza is responsible for between 12,000 and 52,000 deaths annually in the United States, up to 650,000 globally. This impact and deadly toll is staggering considering we have had annual vaccines for decades. 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. Since September 2018, as Chair of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations Subcommittee, I am proud that the Congress has provided $540 million in dedicated funding for universal flu vaccine research, and we must not stop until a universal flu vaccine or preventative is discovered and approved. 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.”
A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.
Senators co-sponsoring the Flu Vaccine Act include Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.).