Health experts discuss back-to-school immunization requirements

Updated: Sep. 14, 2023 at 6:35 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Experts from a range of backgrounds shared their perspective on back-to-school immunizations at a panel Thursday morning.

Cynthia Snyder, analyst for the Kansas Health Institute, says her organization’s goal was to use those conversations to help legislators make informed decisions.

“At KHI our mission is to really have that conversation and then lay that groundwork for making the policy decisions that have been made,” she says. “So as we’re discussing in light just as the legislators are discussing policies related to vaccines, having a deeper understanding of the process helps that process across the street.”

Participants of the panel got an overview of the process that decides which vaccines are required for school entry before seeing how Kansas’ policies compare to other states.

Geovannie Gone, executive director of Immunize Kansas Coalition, says these conversations are important for organizations like hers that work to increase vaccination rates by educating communities.

“It is very important not only to solidify what we know that vaccines do prevent diseases, but also to provide information to families information to clinicians strategies on how to approach this topic when talking to families, especially in communities,” says Gone. “We have communities that are very rural communities that are urban, it’s very different from area to area.”

Gone hopes the conversations had during Thursday’s panel will encourage organizations to work together to meet shared goals.

“I hope that as clinicians or families have questions that they can reach out whether it is to KHI or to our organization as well,” she says. “Talk about maybe some of the questions that you might have in regards to vaccines, and how we can work together so that we can increase those vaccine rates in our state of Kansas.”

The panel discussion featured representatives from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Immunize Kansas Coalition, the Kansas Health Institute, and Lawrence Public Schools.