The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight panel will hold a bipartisan hearing on the outbreak and response efforts next Wednesday, Feb. 27.
Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and ranking member Greg Walden (R-Ore.) joined oversight panel Chair Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and ranking member Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) in a statement that warned the influx of vaccine-preventable diseases is a serious public health threat.
“Measles is a highly contagious, life-threatening virus that was previously eliminated in the United States thanks to the success of the measles vaccine,” the lawmakers wrote. “Unfortunately, measles cases are on the rise as a consequence of the virus’s transmission among unvaccinated groups.”
The conversation around vaccinations has been escalating inside the Beltway in recent weeks after an initial batch of more than 40 cases of measles was reported in Oregon and Washington state.
In late January, Washington Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency due to the outbreak.
Vaccines had eliminated the virus in the U.S. by 2000, but it can return with overseas travelers and spread among the unvaccinated.
Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb has been vocal on Twitter about the public health threat, urging immunizations and suggested to Axios last week that the federal government may have to step in.
In a Tuesday interview on CNN, he elaborated further, warning that if “certain states continue down the path that they’re on, I think they’re going to force the hand of the federal health agencies.”