Against the backdrop of COVID-19, it is inescapable to see the link between immunization policy and its direct correlation to public health and disease control. In Missouri and Kansas, there have been attempts to weaken immunization standards.
In Missouri, HB 2380 -- which
has not advanced beyond bill introduction --
has several components designed to dilute vaccine compliance, including:
- Eliminates the immunization requirement for private and parochial schools and day care centers.
- Prohibits the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) from developing rules for any new immunization requirements that are not already in statute.
- Expands immunization exemptions to include a conscientious belief objection.
- Requires DHSS to effectively promote immunization exemptions by requiring DHSS to develop a brochure outlining the process for obtaining an exemption and posting it on the web site.
- Removes the existing requirement that college fraternity and sorority house members obtain meningococcal immunizations.
- Allows a student to attend any school without adherence to immunization standards if he or she can provide evidence of acquired immunity.
In Kansas, HB 2601, while not as comprehensive as the Missouri proposal, moved further in the legislative process, culminating in a public hearing in February. HB 2601 would remove the authority of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to develop rules around new vaccinations. Instead, this duty would fall to our part-time citizen legislature. In a packed committee room, the House Education Committee heard from proponents and opponents, including MAIC. Opponents stressed the importance of health experts in determining vaccine standards as key to maintaining evidence-based decisions.
HB 2601 failed to move through the legislative process this year, thanks to public health advocates who showed up and made their voices heard.