05.23.19

Peters, Roberts, Duckworth Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Raise Awareness About Vaccines, Increase Vaccination Rates, Cut Health Care Costs

Legislation Comes As Measles Outbreak Hits Michigan and U.S., With Highest Number of Cases Nationwide in 25 Years

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) announced they introduced the bipartisan VACCINES Act to increase vaccination rates by raising vaccine awareness through a national campaign to combat misinformation.

“We’ve seen firsthand in Michigan the devastating impact of diseases that could have been prevented by vaccines. No one should have to experience the pain of seeing a loved one fall ill or even lose their life because of a vaccine-preventable disease,” said Senator Peters. “This bipartisan legislation would raise awareness about the importance of vaccinations to help more families protect their health and lower health care costs by preventing diseases that require expensive treatments.”

“There are currently hundreds of people throughout the country suffering from measles, a disease that is 100% preventable thanks to modern medicine,” said Senator Roberts. “However, misinformation regarding vaccines has led many to opt out of vaccinating their children, which is causing these illnesses to come back at alarming rates. This legislation will help push back at that misinformation and provide scientific evidence on why everyone should be vaccinated.”

“The recent measles outbreak is extremely troubling, especially as the mother of two young daughters,” Senator Duckworth said. “Vaccinations and immunizations have saved countless lives and are critical in keeping both children and adults safe from preventable deadly diseases. I’m proud to join Senators Peters and Roberts in introducing this bipartisan bill to ensure more Americans understand that vaccines are safe, effective and vital to our nation’s public health.” 

The VACCINES Act would direct the CDC to award competitive grants to public or private entities to carry out a national, evidence-based campaign to combat misinformation about vaccines and disseminate scientific vaccine-related information. It would also establish grants to address vaccine-preventable diseases and would support research related to awareness strategies. The VACCINES Act is also included as part of a larger bipartisan legislative package to cut health care costs, released today by the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chair Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).

It would also establish grants to address vaccine-preventable diseases and would support research related to awareness strategies. The VACCINES Act is also included as part of a larger bipartisan legislative package that was introduced today to cut health care costs. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, there have been 44 measles cases statewide in Michigan between March 13, 2019 and May 17, 2019. There have been 880 cases nationwide from January 1 to May 17, 2019, according to the CDC. The majority of infected individuals were unvaccinated. Measles, a highly contagious disease, was declared eliminated in 2000, and this marks the highest number of cases in 25 years.

###