H.R. 8061 – Community Immunity During COVID-19 Act of 2020

Summary: To amend the Public Health Service Act to direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make grants to covered health departments to increase the rate of recommended immunizations, and for other purposes.(Cosponsors)

ANGIE CRAIG’S POSITION: Representative Craig co-sponsored the bill on 09/01/20.

STATUS: Introduced 8/14/20 by Rep. Underwood, Lauren [D-IL-14]

INFORMATION RELATED TO THE BILL:

  • The Community Immunity During COVID-19 Act responds to an alarming decline in immunization rates for life-saving vaccines

    WASHINGTON— Today, Representatives Lauren Underwood (IL-14), Kim Schrier, M.D. (WA-08), Kathy Castor (FL-14), and Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02) introduced new legislation to reverse the dangerous decrease in vaccination rates, which have plummeted during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Community Immunity During COVID-19 Act (H.R. 8061) makes critical investments to develop, scale, and evaluate local initiatives to promote recommended vaccinations during this pandemic. The legislation also supports preparations for the eventual COVID-19 vaccine, ensuring that immunization providers and local organizations can lead community-specific initiatives that will reach all community members, particularly underserved populations.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), immunization rates for life-saving vaccines have fallen significantly during the pandemic as Americans have attempted to avoid exposure to COVID-19. The CDC has issued important guidance to encourage Americans to keep up with recommended immunization schedules during the public health emergency. As the United States prepares for the upcoming flu season, the legislation ensures that children, adolescents, and adults can receive the vaccines they need to protect themselves and their communities.

    “As flu season gets underway and the coronavirus continues to spread, we must take action now to address the alarming decline in immunization rates,” said Rep. Underwood. I’m introducing the Community Immunity During COVID-19 Act to ensure that communities have the resources they need to avoid outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, mitigate the severity of the seasonal flu as we continue to battle this pandemic, and prepare for a future COVID-19 vaccine. By investing in community-specific initiatives to increase immunization rates, we can help keep children, families, adults, and communities safe and protected during this pandemic.”

    “As a pediatrician, I am concerned about the decrease in routine immunizations children have gotten during the pandemic. Part of this hesitation is due to misinformation. The Community Immunity During COVID-19 Act is similar to another bill we worked on together that I introduced during 2019 measles outbreaks, the VACCINES Act- that increases information from trusted sources about vaccines to improve immunization rates. This is especially important in the face of this pandemic. When we finally have a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19, the Community Immunity During COVID-19 Act will ensure that we have a robust information campaign to get Americans to understand why they should get a COVID-19 vaccine. Immunizations protect us and our community as a whole,” said Rep. Schrier.

    “Immunizations are critical to safeguarding families and the public health. The Community Immunity During COVID-19 Act promotes vaccinations, especially in underserved communities, during the current public health crisis. In partnership with Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida, I spearheaded an effort to increase HPV vaccinations, and have seen firsthand the value of immunization outreach and education. I salute U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood for her leadership in this effort and know that if we all work together and heed the advice of public health experts, families will benefit and our neighbors will lead safe and healthy lives,” said Rep. Castor.

    “I am deeply concerned that as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, immunization rates for vaccine-preventable diseases have dramatically declined. We must ensure that children, adolescents, and adults continue to receive recommended immunizations, and that local public health departments and providers are prepared for a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available. I am proud to join Congresswoman Underwood on this legislation that will help to ensure that every American – especially in communities that have been disproportionately affected by the novel coronavirus – can continue to access routine immunizations safely, and have full confidence in a COVID vaccine when one is available,” said Rep. Kuster.

    The Community Immunity During COVID-19 Act would:

    • Provide $560 million to state and local public health departments to promote Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices-recommended vaccinations during the COVID-19 public health emergency through:
      • Establishing and strengthening partnerships with health care providers, schools, pharmacies, vaccine coalitions, and community-based organizations;
      • Developing culturally and linguistically appropriate information about vaccines and disseminating throughout communities;
      • Conducting outreach to promote health insurance options and immunization programs like Vaccines for Children;
      • Supporting preparations for the distribution of the future COVID-19 vaccine; and
      • Evaluating efforts to improve the effectiveness of future initiatives to promote vaccinations.
    • Fund the development and dissemination of vaccine counseling guidance for community immunization providers to be able to effectively communicate with patients about an eventual COVID-19 vaccine once a vaccine has been approved.

    The Community Immunity During COVID-19 Act has gained support from more than 60 public health and health care organizations across the country and throughout Illinois, including the National League for Nursing, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, Adult Vaccine Access Coalition, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The full list of endorsing organizations can be found here.

    (Source: Rep. Lauren Underwood Press Release, 08/17/20

ADDITIONAL DETAIL:

Link to the text of the bill.

Link to bill information (support and opposition) on Causes.Com- formerly Countable.

Link to bill information on GovTrack.

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