WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), John Thune (R-S.D.), and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced bipartisan legislation to fund a science-driven public advocacy campaign to ensure that when an effective COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Americans are ready to get it. According to recent polling, just over half of Americans are willing to take a COVID-19 vaccine when it is authorized and made available to the public. This legislation would authorize necessary funding to fund a public awareness campaign on COVID-19 vaccine information through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Grants would go to entities to start developing campaigns that target all Americans, and that would begin no later than 30 days after a vaccine is authorized.
“Trust in the COVID-19 vaccine’s safety and efficacy is especially critical to overcome challenges in getting the vaccine to Americans, especially in those communities hit hardest by the pandemic. Our legislation creates an awareness campaign to promote evidence-based, scientific information, while dispelling any misinformation and disinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, this bill encourages community-based organizations, whether it is churches, youth centers, or local health departments, to serve as trusted messengers of this information,” said Senator Cardin. “Getting vaccines to communities of color is essential because these communities have disproportionately borne the burden of the pandemic. Creating targeted vaccine awareness campaigns, which are reflective of each community and disseminated by trusted individuals, will help to ensure the success of the billions of dollars invested by the public to quell the spread of COVID-19.”
“A science-driven public advocacy campaign can play an important role in increasing public confidence in safe and effective vaccines. I’m pleased to introduce this legislation with my colleagues Senators Cardin, Thune, and Menendez because I am concerned by that latest polling data showing that just over 50 percent of Americans are comfortable getting the vaccine once it’s authorized. Once vaccines are approved by the FDA and are made widely available, wide-scale vaccinations will make Ohioans and all Americans safer. When this happens, people will feel more comfortable returning to the workplace, retail establishments, restaurants, places of worship, and schools, as well as gathering with family and friends. The work on vaccines is the single most important part of the ongoing COVID-19 response effort and I believe a science-driven public advocacy campaign will help reassure Americans about the clinical trials being conducted across the country,” said Senator Portman.
“In order to fully realize the benefit of the tremendous work that’s been done by public and private sector scientists to develop and verify multiple COVID-19 vaccines, the American people need to be confident in the process and the results,” said Senator Thune. “A safe and effective vaccine will be a key part of protecting the economy and public health. I’m proud to join my colleagues from both sides of the aisle in supporting an awareness campaign to help get the facts and information out to the public in a meaningful and effective way.”
“Getting an approved, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is an important first step, but absolutely meaningless if enough people don’t get inoculated. We know the key to getting back to more of our routines will depend on high vaccination rates,” said Senator Menendez. “It’s critically important that folks have access to good, accurate information about the efficacy and safety of vaccines. Our bipartisan bill will help states fund public awareness campaigns to give Americans the answers they need and encourage them to get vaccinated against COVID-19.”