Vaccines protect people from seasonal flu, and new strains have recently been approved to further protect public health. As such, the current law vaccine excise tax must in turn be updated to include recent approvals.
Currently, the excise tax on seasonal influenza vaccines applies only to trivalent (3 strain) vaccines, and excludes any non-trivalent vaccines. The first quadrivalent (4 strain) influenza vaccine was approved by the FDA in February 2012 and a second was approved in December 2012.
On February 27, 2013 the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) selected the appropriate strains for the 2013-14 influenza season, including a fourth strain for quadrivalent vaccines.
To add these new seasonal flu vaccines to the national Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), the language that assesses the excise tax must be updated to include them.
S. 391 and H.R. 475 update the existing excise tax to cover the newest seasonal influenza vaccines.
The legislation does not increase taxes on flu vaccines. It does not increase taxes at all.
Even with the additional flu strain, the tax on the flu shot will be 75 cents, the same as last flu season.
Updating the vaccine excise tax to bring it into alignment with the newest developments in the vaccine market is critical to addressing the upcoming influenza season. This is an extremely important public health matter.
The VICP is a no-fault program which provides the rare person injured by certain vaccines compensation for such injuries. Experts determine which injuries should be covered by the VICP, and the Congress ensures the program is funded via an excise tax.
Since the enactment of the initial excise tax legislation for the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP), measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), polio, and tetanus vaccines, Congress has enacted legislation to place an excise tax on seven additional vaccines. These vaccines target prevention of the following diseases: hepatitis B, rotavirus, pneumococcal pneumonia, hepatitis A, seasonal influenza, meningococcal, and human papillomavirus (HPV).
The issue before Congress is whether the newest seasonal influenza vaccine will be covered by the VICP in time for the 2013-14 flu season. BIO will work with the Congress to ensure these new vaccines are covered by the VICP in order to protect public health.