WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) joined Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and other colleagues in urging Congressional leaders to provide robust funding to ensure the swift distribution of COVID-19 vaccines as a part of any upcoming legislation to address the pandemic.
At least one COVID-19 vaccine may be available for distribution within the next month, but many state and local governments lack the funding necessary to distribute the vaccine. The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the Association of Immunization Managers (AIM) recently wrote to congressional leaders that a minimum of $8.4 billion is needed distribute COVID-19 vaccines nationwide. Some experts estimate that $10 billion is required in order to fund community vaccination clinics alone.
“For months, as states, territories, Indian Tribes, and other localities have been responding to COVID-19 and working tirelessly to keep their residents safe, they have also been preparing to undertake one of the largest vaccination efforts in our nation’s history,” the Senators wrote. “To accomplish this, jurisdictions must recruit and train thousands of health care workers, modernize data systems and registries, stand up vaccination sites, develop communications and educational materials, and build and support the infrastructure needed to distribute multiple types and doses of COVID-19 vaccines, among other activities.”
“To ensure that jurisdictions throughout the country are well-positioned to immediately, efficiently, and equitably distribute COVID-19 vaccines as they become available, we respectfully request that any upcoming legislation to address the pandemic include robust funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts,” the Senators concluded.
Earlier this year, Senators Hassan and Shaheen called for Congress to provide at least $5.6 billion in federal funding to develop and support COVID-19 vaccine infrastructure. In May, Senator Hassan emphasized the importance of planning early for the manufacturing and distribution of vaccines during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing.