Larsen, Langevin and Carson Introduce Legislation to Better Protect Americans From the Flu

Jan 30, 2020 Issues: Health Care

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) introduced two bills to better protect Americans from seasonal and pandemic flu. The Protecting Americans from Seasonal Influenza Act establishes a grant program for states to better prepare communities against seasonal flu by increasing vaccination rates. The National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza Update Act would require the White House to update its plan to prepare for, detect and respond to a flu pandemic.

“This package takes positive steps to expand public health outreach, help states increase vaccination rates among children and adults and ensure all levels of government have a plan in case of a pandemic,” said Rep. Larsen. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this legislation and better protect Americans from the flu.”

“Additional funding for influenza prevention and preparedness is a critical need for public health,” said Nancy Furness, prevention services director for the Snohomish Health District. “We appreciate Congressman Larsen’s continued support of public health here and in Washington, D.C.”

“When we first released our National Blueprint for Biodefense in 2015, we noted that the root cause of our nation’s continuing vulnerability to influenza and other biological threats was the lack of strong centralized leadership at the highest level of government,” said Dr. Asha M. George, Executive Director, Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense. “Five years later, that issue remains a concern. We applaud Rep. Larsen and his colleagues in Congress for recognizing the need to better protect Americans from seasonal and pandemic influenza, and introducing this important legislation.”   

Nearly as many Americans died from the flu last year as did from roadway fatalities. According to the Washington State Department of Health, 38 Washingtonians have died from the flu this winter, including four children. During the last flu season, approximately 35.5 million Americans had flu symptoms, 16.5 million received medical care, 490,600 were hospitalized and 34,200 died. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates the annual economic burden of the flu to be $11.2 billion.

For text of the Protecting Americans from Seasonal Influenza Act, click here.

For text of the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza Update Act, click here.

For more information on influenza, visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/.

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