UPDATED 10:15 AM PT — Friday, September 20, 2019
President Trump is taking aggressive steps to prevent Americans from contracting the flu. The commander-in-chief signed an executive order on Thursday to ramp up research on ways to terminate multiple influenza strains.
The pressure to clamp down on the deadly viruses intensified in recent weeks after White House officials said a serious flu pandemic could cost the country up $3.8 billion as well as threaten the lives of thousands of Americans. Officials said the price tag estimate stems from a loss of productivity from workers who get sick or die.
While there are flu vaccines, sometimes surprise strains spur unexpectedly such as the swine flu back in 2009.
“Every year we make new vaccines, and even while we’re giving those vaccines the flu virus is mutating. So, at the beginning of the flu season the vaccine may work very well, by the end of the flu season, it may not work very well.”
— Gregory Poland, M.D. – Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group
The renewed focus on vaccines, however, has shifted attention away from another health-related executive order the president passed in June. The new rule now forces the hand of hospitals by increasing transparency in health care costs, which the president has said will help lower the price of prescription drugs like ones that could cure the flu.
“For decades powerful insurance companies, lobbyists, and special interests have denied the real cost to the health care services they provide ,it’s that simple,” stated President Trump
Although the root of the problem may be simple, the president is likely to face more opposition as he tries to tweak features of the country’s health care system to make it more malleable.