As the former Chairman and current Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for funding the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), I have always supported incremental funding increases for the CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Gradual base increases go toward support of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, which facilitates increasing vaccination rates for over a dozen vaccine-preventable diseases, as well as vaccinations for at-risk populations. It also strengthens state public health infrastructure and increases disease surveillance efforts. To slow the spread of coronavirus, the development of a vaccine to treat COVID-19 is crucial, and I am proud this is being taken seriously in our country. This spring, the NIH formed a public-private partnership called Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) to coordinate and prioritize research efforts into the most promising therapeutics and vaccines. Moreover, HHS has invested more than $7 billion into facilitating research and development for more than five vaccine candidates by leading pharmaceutical companies. In mid-May, President Trump initiated Operation Warp Speed, a partnership with HHS, the Department of Defense and private pharmaceutical companies to ensure the United States is the first nation in the world to develop and deploy a coronavirus vaccine. This operation seeks to quickly produce and deliver 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccines nationwide by January 2021. It’s worth noting that Operation Warp Speed has resulted in the pre-purchase of hundreds of millions of doses should vaccine candidates prove successful. Throughout the course of history, vaccines have proven to prevent diseases and serious illnesses, and the coronavirus pandemic proves no different. Although this process doesn’t happen overnight, we have certainly made the investments and have the resources to develop and administer a coronavirus vaccine once discovered. However, this pandemic also reaffirms the importance of investing in pandemic programs to ensure we can develop, test and stockpile immunizations for the next generation.
August is National #Immunization Month. Shots, or vaccines, help prevent dangerous and sometimes deadly diseases. Read more: https://t.co/k6v7G5Vzf7 #NativeHealth #IndianCountry pic.twitter.com/dilDNTR6uL— IndianHealthService (@IHSgov) August 14, 2019
Tom Cole, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, is serving his eighth term in Congress as the elected representative of Oklahoma's 4th Congressional District. He is recognized as an advocate for taxpayers and small business, a proponent for a strong national defense and a leader in promoting biomedical research. He is considered the foremost expert in the House on issues dealing with Native Americans and tribal governments. He and his wife, Ellen, have one son, Mason, and reside in Moore, Oklahoma.
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