NIAID and CDC Testify at House Science Committee hearing on the Flu

On Wednesday, Nov. 20, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee held a hearing, "Fighting Flu, Saving Lives: Vaccine Science and Innovation." Federal witnesses were NIAID Director Dr. Tony Fauci, Dr. Daniel Jernigan, Director of the Influenza Division at CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Joining Dr. Fauci's and Dr. Jernigan's testimonies were followed by a panel that included Dr. Sharon Watkins, Pennsylvania state epidemiologist and President of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, and Dr. Robin Robinson, former Director of the HHS Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

This well-attended and mostly friendly hearing was chaired by Committee Vice-Chair Ami Bera (D-CA) who is a primary care physician with a strong interest in both medical research and global health issues. Throughout the hearing, Rep. Bera took the opportunity to elicit responses from the witnesses and emphasize himself that vaccines are safe, vaccines work and that everyone should get vaccinated against the flu. Other key topics that arose were: (1) vaccine "misinformation" and challenges with social media; (2) progress in the development of a universal flu vaccine; (3) the need for better public health data sharing infrastructure; and, (4) new technologies in vaccine development.

ASM worked with the Committee in advance of the hearing to ensure that key questions were addressed during the hearing, including how CDC is addressing and monitoring flu vaccine hesitancy and what challenges exist and what resources are needed to continue progress toward development of the universal flu vaccine.