WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today joined her colleagues, led by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), in urging Congressional leaders to provide robust funding to ensure the swift distribution of COVID-19 vaccines as a part of any upcoming legislation to address the pandemic.
Recent reports indicate that several COVID-19 vaccine candidates have demonstrated encouraging safety and efficacy data, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will soon begin reviewing at least one vaccine for emergency use authorization. However, even if a vaccine is ready for distribution as soon as next month, many state and local governments still lack the proper funding needed to distribute vaccines. According to a recent letter sent by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the Association of Immunization Managers (AIM) to congressional leaders, a minimum of $8.4 billion is needed distribute COVID-19 vaccines nationwide. Some experts even estimated that $10 billion is required in order to fund community vaccination clinics alone.
“For months, as states, territories, Indian Tribes, and other localities have been responding to COVID-19 and working tirelessly to keep their residents safe, they have also been preparing to undertake one of the largest vaccination efforts in our nation’s history,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter sent today to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “To accomplish this, jurisdictions must recruit and train thousands of health care workers, modernize data systems and registries, stand up vaccination sites, develop communications and educational materials, and build and support the infrastructure needed to distribute multiple types and doses of COVID-19 vaccines, among other activities.”
“To ensure that jurisdictions throughout the country are well-positioned to immediately, efficiently, and equitably distribute COVID-19 vaccines as they become available, we respectfully request that any upcoming legislation to address the pandemic include robust funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts,” the lawmakers concluded.
In addition to Baldwin and Booker, this letter was also signed by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Tom Carper (D-DE).
The full text of the letter is available here.