In recent weeks, the American people have received encouraging news about a potential COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccines and the public health efforts to get people vaccinated are one of our country’s greatest accomplishments — but they didn’t happen on their own.
Vaccination efforts take massive mobilization and coordination by the federal government – and we have to get ready now, to rise to this challenge as soon as a vaccine is ready.
That’s why last week, I introduced the Helping Adults Protect Immunity — or the HAPI Act.
It would ensure more Americans are able to get the vaccines they need with no out-of-pocket costs, and provide more federal matching funds for states like Ohio to better reach at-risk and vulnerable patients.
We know that too many people already face barriers to get the immunizations they need. Ohioans in low-income communities and communities of color too often lack access to quality, affordable treatment and preventive care, including vaccinations.
And the patchwork expansion of Medicaid around the country has meant that some Medicaid patients are able to get vaccinations for free, while others can face high out-of-pocket costs, depending on what state they live in.
Our bill will put a stop to that, and ensure everyone on Medicaid can get all vaccines recommended by the CDC, including a future Covid vaccine, with $0 in co-pays.
Right now, coronavirus cases are rising in Ohio and all over the country. We know we are all exhausted by this pandemic — people want to get back to their families and their jobs and their lives. To do that, we have to be ready to go from day one when a vaccine is approved.
When some Americans aren’t able to get the vaccines they need it doesn’t just hurt them — it hurts the whole community. The concept of “herd immunity” rests on everyone — regardless of their background or where they live – being able to get vaccinated.
It’s going to be the same with Covid-19 — a vaccine will only be effective if most people get it.
We’ve risen to this challenge before — we eradicated smallpox, we stopped polio, and we ended the era of measles, mumps, and other diseases as fears that kept parents up at night.
We did it through public health leadership — and we can do it again.
Sherrod Brown is the senior U.S. senator from Ohio.