$100 million bipartisan flu vaccine tax bill approved

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the $100 million bipartisan flu tax bill, H.R. 475, on Tuesday with a 394-27 vote, which placed the influenza vaccine on the list of taxable vaccines.

The passing of the bill will not increase the cost of flu shots, but will allow the vaccine to benefit from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. The VICP works by taxing 75 cents per shot and creating a type of insurance for the public in the event that injury or death is caused by vaccines. The program was originally formulated to diffuse claims in 1986 that vaccines cause injury or death, Bio News Texas reports.

The tax on flu vaccines will produce about $100 million annually, which will be invested into security in the U.S. Treasury to help decrease the national debt of $16.5 trillion. As of May 2013, the VICP has paid out $2.7 billion for cases involving injury amongst all vaccines. The program has gained $3.4 billion from the tax and is projected to balance the budget in 25 years if current levels of revenue remain constant, according to Bio News Texas.

The new bill accepts a fourth strain of influenza vaccine into a pre-existant three-strain vaccine, producing what the Center for Disease Control recommends as a 'cocktail' treatment method. With an anticipated 135 million doses of flu vaccine administered in 2014, the bill helps to ensure its safety, Bio News Texas reports.

The bill also helps to ensure vaccine manufacturing companies provide safe vaccines for the public, as the threat of litigation is severe in the event that injury does occur. For some manufacturing companies, prerequisites must be met before granted approval for vaccine production.