Massachusetts, Connecticut senators to call for $1B for flu vaccine development

The legislation would provide $1 billion over five years

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is calling for a $1 billion federal government investment for the development of a universal flu vaccine.

The Connecticut Democrat announced the proposal Saturday at a flu shot clinic in East Hartford. He’s co-sponsoring the bill with Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey and several other Democrats.

A universal vaccine would provide protection against multiple types of the flu, rather than a select few that a typical seasonal vaccine guards against. Federal officials estimate this year’s vaccine is only 36 percent effective in preventing severe flu illness.

The legislation would provide $1 billion over five years to the National Institutes of Health for development of a universal vaccine. Blumenthal says $64 million was awarded to researchers in 2017, which he called “a pittance” compared to what’s needed.