WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined 16 of his Democratic Senate 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.

With the recent news of at least one COVID-19 vaccine possibly being available to be distributed within the next month, many state and local governments lack the proper funding that is needed to distribute the vaccine. According to a recent letter sent by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the Association of Immunization Managers (AIM) to congressional leaders, a minimum of $8.4 billion is needed to distribute COVID-19 vaccines nationwide. Some experts even estimated 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 lawmakers wrote in a letter sent today to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy. 

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 lawmakers concluded.

The letter was led by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and was also signed by U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Tom Carper (D-DE).  

The full text of the letter is available here.

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