Newman leads colleagues in urging Biden to restore National Vaccine program office

Newman leads colleagues in urging Biden to restore National Vaccine program office
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Newman leads colleagues in urging Biden to restore National Vaccine program office

U.S. REP. NEWMAN (IL-03) LEADS 29 COLLEAGUES IN A LETTER URGING THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION TO RESTORE THE FULL FUNCTIONALITY OF THE NATIONAL VACCINE PROGRAM OFFICE (NVPO)

U.S. Representative Marie Newman (IL-03) on Monday Feb. 1, 2021 joined by 29 of her colleagues, sent a letter to the Biden administration urging them to restore the full functionality of the National Vaccine Program Office (NVPO), which was undermined by the Trump administration in 2019. 

“For decades, the National Vaccine Program Office (NVPO) has been a leading voice of national vaccination policy at the federal level and responsible for administering the National Vaccine Plan. However, in 2019, the Trump administration completely undermined the NVPO and over the last year, they failed to address the need for additional resources and staff to effectively respond to a global pandemic of this magnitude,” said Congresswoman Newman.

“As the threat of emerging public health crises and global pandemics will remain for the foreseeable future, now is the time to re-establish and re-build a permanent and lasting public health apparatus to successfully prepare for and coordinate future efforts. We are calling on the Biden administration to restore the full functionality of the NVPO, through additional resources and staff, so they can play a vital role in our collective goal of mounting a safe, effective, and equitable vaccination campaign and help the federal government better prepare for future global pandemics.” 

3rd Congressional District candidate Marie Newman

3rd Congressional District Congresswoman Marie Newman

Here is a copy of the letter:

Dear Acting Secretary Cochran and Mr. Zients: 

We thank you for your leadership in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic since taking office this month. We are heartened by President Biden’s commitment to administering a whole-of-government approach to crushing the coronavirus, vaccinating all Americans quickly, and safely reopening our economy and schools. This desperately needed coordination from the federal government will save tens of thousands of American lives and put us on a path to recovery. 

As you ramp up efforts to address this public health crisis, we write to bring your attention to the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) National Vaccine Program Office (NVPO). We believe restoring the full functionality of the NVPO, through additional resources and staff, can play a vital role in the Biden administration’s goal of mounting a safe, effective, and equitable vaccination campaign1 and help the federal government better prepare for future global pandemics. 

1 https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/National-Strategy-for-the-COVID-19-Response-and-Pandemic-Preparedness.pdf 

2 https://www.hhs.gov/vaccines/about/index.html 

3 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/11/01/fact-check-hhs-shut-down-vaccine-office-merged-hiv-aids/6067428002/ 

Since 1986, the NVPO has provided the central leadership necessary to effectively coordinate HHS-wide vaccine-related efforts. It has been the leading voice of national vaccination policy at the federal level and responsible for administering the National Vaccine Plan. The efforts it helps coordinate include vaccine research and development; vaccine production, procurement, and distribution; safety and efficacy testing; licensing of vaccine manufacturers; and the monitoring of adverse events related to vaccinations.2 

Unfortunately, the NVPO was completely undermined by the Trump administration, just like most federal public health agencies. In March 2019, former HHS Secretary Alex Azar instituted a department-wide reorganization that merged the NVPO with the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy (OHAIDP) to create the new Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy (OIDP). As a result, these changes failed to address the need for additional resources and staff to effectively respond to a global pandemic of this magnitude.3 The Trump administration’s futile efforts to cut costs and eliminate program redundancies came at a very steep price: significant delays and confusion in vaccine coordination, which has resulted in the loss of more than 425,000 American lives. Undoing this damage will be a crucial step in restoring the vital coordination needed for a successful vaccination campaign. 

Additionally, as the threat of emerging public health crises and global pandemics will remain for the foreseeable future, now is the time to re-establish and re-build a permanent and lasting public health apparatus to successfully prepare and coordinate future efforts. We believe the NVPO/OIDP can and should be part of this apparatus. Equipping it with the additional resources and staff it needs will reinforce the federal government’s commitment to pandemic preparedness for future events. Page 2 of 3 

We thank you for your consideration of this request and believe it aligns with the Biden administration’s priorities around safe, equitable, and coordinated distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations. We look forward to working with you to ensure your efforts have the resources and support from Congress needed to guarantee their success. 

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