DeFazio Introduces Flu Vaccine Bill
November 17, 2005
Once Again, U.S. Faces Supply Shortage
WASHINGTON, DC- U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield) today introduced "The Influenza Vaccine Emergency Act," to give the Secretary of Health and Human Services more authority to acquire and distribute the influenza vaccine during a crisis.
"We go through the same routine every year, like Groundhog Day," said DeFazio. "Once again we were given assurances from the government that we were prepared with ample flu vaccine supplies and once again pregnant women, children, senior citizens, and other high risk individuals were forced to stand in line for flu vaccination. It's about time we learn from past mistakes. A system needs to be in place to guarantee that high risk individuals receive flu vaccinations first, in the case of a flu vaccine shortage, or crisis."
At the start of the flu season state and federal officials assured the public that flu vaccine supplies were ample and encouraged all to get vaccinated after October 24. Just a few weeks later, the media began to report that clinics and hospitals were facing severe shortages.
DeFazio's legislation would strengthen the authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act to respond to a health emergency. In the case of a flu vaccine shortage or flu epidemic, the Secretary of HHS could declare a national health emergency. If a manufacturer or distributor was not in compliance with government distribution guidelines, under a national health emergency, the Secretary would have the authority to seize vaccine supplies from manufacturers and distributors, that have been paid for by federal, state, and local government entities, and distribute the vaccine.