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Senator Hassan Holds Virtual Roundtable on Importance of Vaccinations with National and NH Public Health Experts

Participants Discussed Senator Hassan’s Bipartisan Legislation to Ensure Pregnant Women Receive Necessary Vaccinations

NEW HAMPSHIRE – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan held a virtual roundtable this week with national and New Hampshire public health experts to discuss preparations underway to administer a potential COVID-19 vaccine and the importance of routine vaccinations – particularly getting a flu shot this year. 


“We all understand the importance of vaccinations in protecting public health and we also know that vaccinations in this particular year will really help mitigate the challenges we will see this flu season,” Senator Hassan said.


The Senator discussed two pieces of bipartisan legislation that she recently introduced to help increase maternal vaccination rates and ensure that these vaccines are free of cost for Medicaid enrollees.


Abby Bownas, Manager of the Adult Vaccine Access Coalition, applauded the introduction of these bipartisan bills: “I wanted to take a second to thank you for the maternal immunization legislation. It's so important…Financial barriers to vaccinations is a huge deterrent that we see across the board in both Medicaid and the Medicare Part D space, and your legislation is going to go a long way to help take that off the table so we can get more pregnant women vaccinated.”


Amy Pisani, Executive Director of Vaccinate Your Family, echoed that sentiment: “We're just so grateful that you're looking to the maternal immunization bill. That's so important because pregnant women of color and those who live below the poverty line actually have 20% lower vaccination rates against diseases, for instance flu and whooping cough. So if there's this major disparity among how its covered in the states, we have to resolve that...Every pregnant woman has the right to prevent a deadly virus in herself and her child.”


Senator Hassan also discussed the importance of preparing for a potential COVID-19 vaccine.


“I'm pushing the administration to ensure that the infrastructure is in place to distribute the vaccine, and we also know that the vaccine is only going to be effective if people actually get vaccinated,” Senator Hassan said. “So one of the things I've done recently is introduce bipartisan legislation to ensure that a potential vaccine is safe and effective and that the American people have confidence in it.”


Beth Daly, Chief of the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, also discussed the state’s role in ensuring Granite Staters receive their flu shot this year.


"As we head into the fall we absolutely want to encourage all Granite Staters to get vaccinated against influenza...about 58% of people in New Hampshire in the last influenza season got vaccinated, which is great, we would like it to be higher," said Daly. "…For this influenza season we are working on some special initiatives in order to get people in and get vaccinated."


Furthermore, Dr. Antonia Altomare, Hospital Epidemiologist & Infectious Disease Physician at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health, spoke about the importance of getting vaccinated and why it is particularly important to get a flu shot this year. And Greg White, CEO of Lamprey Health Care, talked about the role that Community Health Centers play in vaccinating people and what preparations are underway to prepare for a potential COVID-19 vaccine.