Legislative updates for KS and MO
What started a few years ago as an occasional debate in the political realm on the efficacy of immunization has morphed into the primary arena for efforts to dilute vaccine protections. Both Kansas and Missouri have embraced this trend, culminating in an assortment of bills taking aim at immunization. Against the backdrop of a pandemic, vaccination critics have seized an opportunity to cast doubt on the rapid development of the COVID vaccines and parlay that hesitancy into an attack on all current and future vaccines.
In Kansas, SB 212 presents the biggest threat, removing the authority of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to determine the vaccination schedule and placing it with the legislature. If adopted, Kansas would be the first in the nation to take an approach that foregoes an evidence-based process and replaces it with one that values political considerations over public health. There was an attempt to add the contents of SB 212 to another bill on the floor of the senate that barely failed on a 17-18 vote. While this is a temporary win for public health, it is troubling that a bill that failed to garner committee approval only one year ago only came up two votes short in the full senate this year.
In Missouri, the anti-vaccination legislation goes even further. HB 37 lifts requirements for current vaccinations for children in private schools and day care centers. The legislation adds a broader category to gain exemption from vaccination and requires the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (MODHSS) to develop an exemption form and market it on their web site, undermining the mission of the MODHSS to encourage and enforce vaccinations.
Both states are also considering bills that prohibit employers from requiring vaccinations, an infringement on employer rights and a reduction in protection from disease for business patrons. There are many vulnerable populations that might risk exposure such as medical patients and nursing home residents, and anyone who is immunocompromised under such a policy.
To view all vaccination legislation, MAIC legislative testimony, and an infographic on HB 37, visit the Nurture KC members’ only web page at https://nurturekc.org/members/.
This resource will inform your outreach to legislators at a critical juncture in the Kansas and Missouri sessions.