Reuters
May 1, 2009

A Democratic U.S. senator proposed on Friday setting up a free nationwide voluntary flu vaccination program to fend off future outbreaks of dangerous strains.

[efoods]With the United States on alert for more cases of the new H1N1 swine flu virus, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin said the government should include funding for free vaccines for all Americans in the supplemental spending bill now moving through Congress.

“The harsh reality is that we have repeatedly experienced devastating flu pandemics,” Harkin said in a statement.

“Strictly as a matter of prudent prevention, it is desirable to maximize the number of Americans who are vaccinated each year,” Harkin said. President Barack Obama has requested $1.5 billion from Congress to address the ongoing swine flu outbreak.

Seasonal flu kills more than 30,000 Americans each year and costs the economy more than $90 billion.

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