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Blumenthal to call for $1B for flu vaccine development

UPDATED: Sat., Feb. 17, 2018, 10:35 a.m.

In this Aug. 27, 2010 photo, a nurse practitioner prepares a flu vaccination in Rockville, Md. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
In this Aug. 27, 2010 photo, a nurse practitioner prepares a flu vaccination in Rockville, Md. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. – U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is calling for a $1 billion federal government investment for the development of a universal flu vaccine.

The Connecticut Democrat announced the proposal Saturday at a flu shot clinic in East Hartford. He’s co-sponsoring the bill with Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey and several other Democrats.

A universal vaccine would provide protection against multiple types of the flu, rather than a select few that a typical seasonal vaccine guards against. Federal officials estimate this year’s vaccine is only 36 percent effective in preventing severe flu illness.

The legislation would provide $1 billion over five years to the National Institutes of Health for development of a universal vaccine. Blumenthal says $64 million was awarded to researchers in 2017, which he called “a pittance” compared to what’s needed.