The Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing Thursday to discuss increasing access to life-saving vaccines, no matter a person’s age, income, or demographic. One of the bills highlighted at the hearing was Congresswoman Kim Schrier, M.D. (WA-08)’s bipartisan Strengthening the Vaccines for Children Program Act that was introduced in April. The Strengthening the Vaccines for Children Program Act builds on and improves the successful Vaccines for Children (VFC) program that ensures children can access vaccines at no-cost. Rep. Schrier’s remarks in the committee hearing can be found here.
“As both a pediatrician and a mom, I’ve been carefully watching the development and approval process for COVID vaccinations in children, and also worrying about the drop in routine childhood immunizations during the pandemic,” said Rep. Schrier. “This has been most dramatic in tweens and teens, many of whom are now missing the shots that protect them from pertussis, which is highly contagious, and HPV. We just saw updated data from the CDC last week that although immunization rates are improving, they haven’t sped up sufficiently to achieve catch-up coverage. Since more than half of childhood vaccines are given through the VFC program, shoring up this already efficient program is critical to making sure all children get caught up on their shots.”
During the hearing, Rep. Schrier spoke with one of the witnesses Dr. Maldonado, also a pediatrician, about COVID-19 vaccine research underway in children under 12, and the risk/benefit calculation parents are facing right now. Rep. Schrier was told by Dr. Maldonado that COVID will continue to be a risk to children, much more than any risk associated with the vaccine. Dr. Maldonado went further to say that there is concern about how the Delta variant, which was first detected in India, affects unvaccinated people, especially children. And that we won’t know how it affects children for many months. She recommended that children get vaccinated and protected as soon as possible.
The Strengthening the VFC Program Act will streamline eligibility for children, lessen financial burdens for providers, and allow more time for providers to talk to parents about vaccine concerns. This bipartisan bill has the support of over 170 state and national groups.
The above is a press release from Rep. Kim Schrier. The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its contents and encourages our readers to personally verify any information they find may be overly biased or questionable. The publication of this press release does not indicate an endorsement of its content.