WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) introduced a bipartisan bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to honor the contributions of all of those whose efforts led to the successful development of lifesaving vaccines to combat COVID-19. The bill commends these professionals for their tireless efforts, which beat typical vaccine development timeframes, and for their broader impact on the health and well-being of society and for the benefit of people around the world. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor that Congress can bestow. It is awarded to those who have performed an achievement that has had an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized in the recipient’s field for years to come.

“I am partnering with Senator Blunt to honor the tremendous efforts of the scientific community to respond to COVID-19 with a sense of urgency, tremendous expertise, and a spirit of collaboration. Their successful production of vaccines is saving countless lives in the United States and around the world,” said Senator Coons. “It’s my hope that this bipartisan bill will help to recognize these professionals for their extraordinary accomplishments and their contributions to advancements in medical technologies that will benefit the world for decades to come.” 

“Our nation is incredibly grateful for all of the scientists, researchers, and medical professionals who worked around the clock and under incredible pressure to develop life-saving vaccines,” said Senator Blunt. “Facing significant challenges, they defied all odds and developed vaccines faster than ever before in history. As Ranking Member of the appropriations subcommittee that funds medical research, I will continue making sure they have the tools and resources they need to finish the fight against COVID. I urge all of my colleagues to join Senator Coons and me in this effort to honor these men and women with the Congressional Gold Medal.”

The COVID–19 Vaccine Developers Gold Medal Act will honor:

  • Researchers, scientists, doctors, epidemiologists, and others around the world who worked collaboratively to develop vaccines authorized for emergency use in the United States and will be used worldwide; and 
  • The global cooperation, strategic partnerships, and collaboration between private innovators and public agencies that led to successful development of vaccines. 

The Congressional Gold Medal is among the country’s two highest civilian honors, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. While the latter is granted at the personal discretion of the president, the Congressional Gold Medal requires support from two-thirds of Congress, generally including the support of supermajorities in both chambers, and thus represents the recognition of an individual’s or group’s contributions by the people’s collective representatives. The award predates the founding of the Republic, and the first honoree—then-General George Washington—was recognized by the Continental Congress on March 25, 1776. Fewer than 175 medals have been extended in the country’s history.

The bill text is available here.

###