THE MEASURE I am about to sign represents a timely response to my request for prompt congressional action to provide funds for a national influenza immunization program. This program will offer every American the opportunity to be inoculated against a swine-type influenza virus.
This virus was the cause of a pandemic in 1918 and 1919 that resulted in over half a million deaths in the United States, as well as 20 million deaths around the world. I am gratified that the Congress could act promptly prior to its Easter recess on a matter of great importance to every citizen.
This demonstrates quite clearly the Congress can confront rapidly and effectively the issues that are important to all of us. The Secretary of HEW, David Mathews, and his Department are moving ahead rapidly to implement the program objectives.
We will mobilize all the necessary national resources to insure that we achieve our goal of making the influenza vaccine available to every American by the end of the year. And I thank the Congress, and I thank the Department of HEW for helping in this very important project.