Rep. Schrier Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Increase Immunizations, Prevent Future Outbreaks
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Kim Schrier, M.D. (WA-08) today introduced the VACCINES Act (H.R. 2862), a bipartisan bill that will increase immunization rates across the country and prevent future outbreaks of contagious, deadly diseases. Rep. Schrier introduced the bill with Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY).
“Vaccines were one of the greatest medical accomplishments of the 20th century and have been proven safe and effective at preventing diseases that once killed or greatly harmed people around the world,” said Rep. Schrier. “As a pediatrician, I understand that parents want to do what they think is best for their children and some do not vaccinate because of unfounded fears. We are now seeing outbreaks of diseases like measles, which was considered eliminated 19 years ago, in part because of an anti-vaccine campaigns around the country. This bill will make sure that parents have access to facts about vaccines, so they can make an informed decision.”
“Vaccines are safe and effective tools that can protect Americans from preventable suffering,” said Dr. Burgess. “This bill reinforces vaccines’ lifesaving potential. As the most senior physician serving in Congress, I am glad to work alongside Dr. Schrier, the newest doctor to join the U.S. House of Representatives, to improve the health and wellbeing of the American people.”
Immunizations protect not only the health of our own children, but the health of entire communities. Parents who have babies too young to be vaccinated or people who are too sick to be vaccinated count on high vaccination rates. While the vast majority of people have received the recommended immunizations for preventable diseases, a growing share of young children have not. The current measles epidemic has quickly spread in communities with clusters of unvaccinated people.
“The science is settled: vaccines save lives. This is a non-partisan issue and I’m pleased to join my colleagues from both sides of the aisle in supporting this legislation, which will promote access, increase utilization and foster research of vaccines. This bill will help reverse the tide of recent disease outbreaks and I urge my colleagues to quickly adopt this measure for the sake of our public health,” added Rep. Engel.
The Vaccine Awareness Campaign to Champion Immunization Nationally and Enhance Safety (VACCINES) Act will give the Center for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) resources it needs to understand what drives vaccines hesitancy and barriers to immunization. They will also be able to better track where there are changes in vaccine confidence or refusal rates. With this information, they will be able to predict where an outbreak might occur because of low immunization rates and target vaccine education campaigns to those areas before an outbreak occurs.
“Vaccines are vital for protecting our communities, but sadly, misinformation has led some to believe that they are not safe. With over 800 confirmed cases of measles in our country this year, we need to reverse course and help parents get the right information about vaccines. I was proud to join Dr. Schrier, Dr. Burgess, Congressman Engel, Congressman Schrader, and Congressman Bilirakis in introducing the VACCINES Act, which will promote vaccine safety and help prevent future outbreaks,” said Rep. Guthrie.
“As a medical professional for over 30 years, I find it absolutely ridiculous that we are seeing illnesses that should not be a public health concern now making a comeback. We’d made such great progress in the medical community with eradicating deadly illnesses; work that is now being undone by the rise of misinformation around scientifically proven preventative care. Over the last year in Oregon, we’ve been dealing with the largest measles outbreak in 20 years, putting our most vulnerable populations at unnecessary risk. And now, we have a problem that now requires a solution. I am pleased to work with my colleagues on this bipartisan, commonsense solution and I urge all of our colleagues to get behind this critical bill as well,” said Rep. Schrader.
“There is no greater priority than protecting our children. This bill will help us achieve that paramount objective because it will lead to higher immunization rates throughout the nation. By doing so, we can save lives and avoid the spread of dangerous diseases. This is simply the right thing to do,” stated Congressman Bilirakis.
“Vaccines are safe, vaccines are effective and vaccines save lives. The VACCINES Act recognizes the vital role vaccines play in keeping children and communities safe and recommends needed funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct surveillance research and public messaging. As measles outbreaks continue to spread, this bill could not be more important or timely. The American Academy of Pediatrics is proud to support the legislation and commends Reps. Schrier (D-Wa.), a pediatrician, and Rep. Burgess (R-Texas), an obstetrician/gynecologist, for their leadership,” said President of the American Academy of Pediatrics Kyle Yasuda, M.D., FAAP.
“The alarm bells are going off all over the US as we have the highest number of measles cases since 1994. Washington state has its second measles outbreak of the year, which is stressing our public health agencies, schools, health care systems, and businesses,” said Washington Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “Vaccines are safe, effective, and one of the best tools we have to stop preventable diseases and save lives. We have been falling down on the prevention work of vaccine preventable diseases and we must act now. This bill is urgently needed and I am thankful for the leadership of Rep. Schrier.”