The House yesterday voted to knock out $15 million for a controversial flu immunization program from a $6.4 billion supplemental appropriation for the remainder of fiscal 1978.
The Department of Health, Education and Welfare had wanted the money to start a program to provide federally supported annual flu immunizations for high-risk and elderly persons.The program this year would have provided vaccine for three types of influenza expected to hit the country this winter - A-Russian, A-Texas and B-Hong Kong.
HEW had asked the House to include it in its supplemental appropriation for the remainder of this fiscal year, because it feared the 1979 appropriations bill will get bogged down in a fight over abortion and be passed too late in the year to develop the immunization program for this winter.
But Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) said, "this is swine flu II, brought to you by the same people who brought you the swine flu fiasco" of 1976-77.
The crash swine flu vaccination program was abruptly ended when serious side effects, including paralysis, occurred in some persons who had received the shots.
Dingell said swine flu liabilities cost the taxpayer $1.2 billion, and he said state officials were afraid of the liabilities they could incur because of this program.
He added that state officials doubted its effectiveness and believed it could "cast doubt on child immunization programs."
Although no swine flu vaccine was included in the program, Rep. John Moss (D-Calif) said the new vaccines Moss (D-Calif) said the new vaccines should be tested further for dosage requirements and effectiveness. He offered an amendment which carried 266 to 127, deleting the $15 million for the immunization program and substituting $3 million instead for research and testing.
A Senate Appropriations subcommittee program from its fiscal 1979 appropriations, but the money is already contained in a house-approved appropriation for that year, which begins Oct. 1.
The House also adopted an amendment by Rep. Clarence Miller (R-Ohio) that would cut 2 percent across the board from the $1.7 billion in non-mandated spending in the bill. The vote was 256 to 114. The bill then passed, 311 to 60.
Most of the supplemental appropriation, some $4.6 billion or 70 percent, is for non-controllables, including veterans benefits, civil service retirement, postal service deficit and currency revaluation for defense programs. The largest single item is $3.2 billion in increased pay costs.