Vaccines and the Government Shutdown

Think that everything related to vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases are exempted during a government shutdown?

“A shutdown furlough (also called an emergency furlough) occurs when there is a lapse in appropriations, and can occur at the beginning of a fiscal year, if no funds have been appropriated for that year, or upon expiration of a continuing resolution, if a new continuing resolution or appropriations law is not passed. In a shutdown furlough, an affected agency would have to shut down any activities funded by annual appropriations that are not excepted by law. Typically, an agency will have very little to no lead time to plan and implement a shutdown furlough.”

Pay & Leave Forlough Guideance

Nearly half of government employees have been furloughed without pay since the beginning of the most recent government shutdown, while some others are working without pay.

Vaccines and the Government Shutdown

Among those government employees who have been furloughed include nearly 40% of the staff at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

It would have been much more if much of HHS’s operating divisions, representing about 60% of HHS staff, had not already been funded through September 2019. So the CDC and NIH should be working as usual.

Some HHS divisions that are funded through Agriculture and Interior appropriations were hit by the shutdown though, including the EPA, FDA, and Indian Health Service.

The FDA works to regulate and approve vaccines. Will that work be affected by the shutdown?

Some of the work at the FDA is done via user fees instead of government funding, but that money is running out and they can't accept new user fees!
Some of the work at the FDA is done via user fees instead of government funding, but that money is running out and they can’t accept new user fees!

Maybe…

Most other vaccine programs likely won’t be affected though.

  • Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) – regulates vaccine products and is financed by user fees, so doesn’t depend on government funding. Except that they can’t accept new user fees!
  • Vaccines For Children Program – already funded through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program – funded by an excise tax on vaccines
  • VAERS – co-administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is still up and running…
  • National Vaccine Program Office – funded through HHS
  • National Science Foundation – closed and no new funding opportunities will be issued and no payments will be made.
  • National Institutes of Health – funded

We are already hearing stories about what is happening as the Indian Health Service goes unfunded.

What happens if CBER runs out of money? Unfortunately, we may soon find out.

More on Vaccines and the Government Shutdown

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