Washington (December 28, 2022) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), author of the Flu Vaccine Act, today celebrated his and his colleagues’ successful effort to secure $270 million in the end-of-year omnibus spending package for research and development of a universal flu vaccine, a $25 million funding increase over last year. In the past four years, Senator Markey has worked with his colleagues to bring in a total of $710 million for research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to advance a universal flu vaccine, one that would be capable of protecting against multiple strains of flu virus and offer longer lasting protections. The CDC estimated that, so far this season, there have been 18 million illnesses and 12,000 deaths from the flu. Just last week, there were over 20,000 patients admitted to the hospital with the flu.
“With a ‘tridemic’ of flu, RSV, and COVID-19 overwhelming emergency rooms, now is the time for the federal government to redouble its efforts in the pursuit of a universal flu vaccine,” said Senator Markey. “A universal flu vaccine will work more efficiently and effectively to protect Americans against all strains of the virus and keep families safe, especially as they gather for the holidays, and secure the United States’ position at the cutting-edge of biomedical innovation. I am proud to have worked with my colleagues in securing $710 million over the past four years for this effort, including $270 million for the coming fiscal year. We have an obligation to deliver a universal flu vaccine to the American people that will protect against this horrible virus and save lives.”
This month, Senator Markey led members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to raise concerns regarding barriers that patients are facing in accessing health care as a result of closures, service reductions, mergers, and for-profit acquisitions of hospitals. With the combination of flu, RSV, and COVID-19 sweeping the nation and stressing hospitals’ ability to provide timely care to patients, a universal flu vaccine would help to prevent hospitalizations and reduce strain placed on hospitals and medical centers.
In November 2021, Senator Markey and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) reintroduced the Flu Vaccine Act, legislation that would provide $1 billion to the National Institutes of Health to support research for the creation of a universal influenza vaccine.