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Baldwin Leads Legislation to Help Protect Americans from Flu

The flu hospitalizes hundreds of thousands of Americans and causes tens of thousands of deaths each year

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced legislation to better protect Americans from getting sick and to end deaths from the flu by supporting our nation’s preparedness and response. The Protecting America from Seasonal and Pandemic Influenza Act of 2023, or Influenza Act, will invest in vaccine development, promote new technology to detect and prevent illness, and increase access to influenza vaccines, treatment, and testing for all Americans.

“Millions of Americans get sick from the flu every year, stopping people from working, kids from going to school, and too often, leading to hospitalizations and deaths, devastating families in Wisconsin and across the country,” said Senator Baldwin. “Investing in proven methods to prevent, detect, and respond to the flu will keep Americans healthy and save lives.”

The flu occurs seasonally each year, and throughout history has caused devastating pandemics. Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates as many as 640,000 flu hospitalizations and 57,000 flu deaths occurred between October 1, 2022 and April 29, 2023 – more than the number of Americans who died in motor vehicle accidents.

To stop deaths and illness from the seasonal flu, the U.S. can and should do more to invest in pandemic response. The Influenza Act builds on the National Influenza Vaccine Modernization Strategy, taking steps to:

  • Strengthen and diversify influenza vaccine development, manufacturing, and supply chains – Speeds up vaccine development and requires a plan to achieve a universal influenza vaccine; implements the National Influenza Vaccine Modernization Strategy; and strengthens the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) pandemic influenza medical countermeasures program.
  • Promote innovative approaches and use of new technologies to detect, prevent, and respond to influenza – Supports interoperable immunization information systems; authorizes the development of novel sequencing modalities, point-of-care and self-testing diagnostics, novel preventive approaches, and improved therapeutics; and strengthens the diagnostics supply chain.
  • Increase influenza vaccine, therapeutics, and testing access and coverage across all populations – Addresses vaccine confidence and mis- and dis-information; incorporates health equity across federal influenza planning and response programs; creates a test-to-treat demonstration program for influenza; incentivizes pathways for pharmacy personnel to administer influenza vaccines; requires dynamic management and diversification of influenza products in the Strategic National Stockpile; and requires HHS to monitor antiviral supplies and create a strategy for distributing products in areas of urgent need.
  • Authorize sustainable funding for the federal influenza ecosystem – Funds programs at the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, CDC, Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), National Institutes of Health, and BARDA.

The Influenza Act is co-sponsored by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). Representatives Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA) introduced this legislation in the House earlier this year. 

A full version of this legislation is available here. A one-pager on this legislation is available here.