Washington, DC—Today, February 4, 2022, NCL Health Policy Associate Milena Berhane provided oral testimony to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in support of the approval of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine and pediatric COVID-19 vaccines. Her comments appear below.
February 4, 2022
Thank you, Dr. Lee. My name is Milena Berhane, and today I am representing the National Consumers League. Since NCL’s founding in 1899 by social reformer Florence Kelley, we have advocated for the critical role immunizations play in the preservation and improvement of public health. We extend our gratitude to this Committee for the opportunity to present public comments.
An estimated 890,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 during this pandemic that has persisted in the U.S. for the past two years. The COVID-19 virus continues to threaten the health and safety of many, especially vulnerable populations such as the elderly and immunocompromised groups. The currently available COVID-19 vaccines have worked to save lives, and avoid preventable illness, hospitalizations, and deaths in our communities.
The National Consumers League commends the FDA and the CDC on the approval of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which will continue to be a key tool in the public health response to this pandemic. This vaccine has been, and will continue to be, a safe and effective measure to protecting Americans 18 years of age and older.
America’s families are hopeful that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will be granted Emergency Use Approval for children under 5 years of age. Hospitalization of children under 5 years of age has soared, further evidence of the need for expanding vaccine access to children in this age group. Vaccinating children under the age of 5 will protect them from illness, but also protect their families, caretakers, and teachers from contracting COVID-19 as well.
We are also concerned about the widespread drop-in routine childhood immunization rates during the pandemic. According to CDC data released last May, over 11.7 million children have missed doses of their recommended vaccines. We are particularly worried that our nation’s most vulnerable children, those who qualified for the Vaccines for Children program, are getting caught up at a much slower rate than children with commercial insurance.
The National Consumers League recognizes the extreme importance of immunizations in protecting the health and safety of all Americans, and will continue its efforts to increase vaccine confidence and uptake across lifespan. We look forward to the upcoming recommendations by this committee regarding these COVID-19 vaccines.
About the National Consumers League
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.