June 27, 2019

Duckworth, Peters, Roberts Bill to Raise Awareness about Vaccines & Increase Vaccination Rates Advances in Senate

Legislation comes after measles outbreak hit U.S. with highest number of cases nationwide in 25 years


[WASHINGTON, DC] – Bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) to increase vaccination rates by raising vaccine awareness through a national campaign to combat misinformation advanced in the Senate today. The VACCINES Act was passed by the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) as part of a larger health care package. The bill would also establish grants to address vaccine-preventable diseases and would support research related to awareness strategies.

“Given the recent measles outbreak, it’s important to recognize that vaccinations and immunizations have saved countless lives and are critical in keeping both children and adults safe from preventable deadly diseases,” said Senator Duckworth. “I’m glad the VACCINES Act passed out of committee and look forward to working with Senators Peters and Roberts to ensure the Senate passes our bipartisan bill as soon as possible to help Americans understand that vaccines are safe, effective and vital to our nation’s public health.”

“Too many Michigan families have felt the devastating impact of diseases that could have been prevented by vaccines. Experiencing the pain of watching a loved battle illness or even succumb to a vaccine-preventable disease is something no American should ever have to suffer through,” 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. I am proud to have led this effort with Senators Roberts and Duckworth and pleased the committee advanced this important bill.”

“I’m glad the VACCINES Act passed out of the HELP Committee today, as part of the Lower Health Care Costs Act,” said Sen. Roberts. “Educating people on the importance of vaccines will increase vaccination rates throughout the country, especially in some of the most at-risk communities. It’s time illnesses, like measles, that are 100% preventable due to modern medicine are once again eliminated.”

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. The bipartisan legislation is also included as part of a larger bipartisan legislative package that was introduced to cut health care costs.

So far in 2019, there have been 9 measles cases statewide in Illinois (according to the Illinois Department of Public Health) and more than 1,000 cases nationwide (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.

Duckworth has been an advocate for the importance of vaccines and immunizations for the well-being of children and surrounding communities. In April, she introduced and passed her bipartisan Vaccines Save Lives Resolution, recognizing the importance of timely vaccines and rejecting debunked theories about the danger of vaccines.