In February, we convened a group of state and national advocates to discuss child immunization trends in the country and their efforts to promote public health strategies to address declining immunization rates among young children. State legislatures across the country saw a wave of vaccination legislation that either banned or limited vaccine requirements. The Kansas legislature introduced a variety of bills that included language weakening current school- and child care-attendance immunization policy. However, with swift action and advocacy efforts, advocates at Kansas Action for Children (KAC) were able to defeat these bills and the session ended without a single change to state immunization requirements.
Kansas Action for Children used data and strategic messaging to advocate against bills that contained troubling language against childhood immunizations. These bills contained language that would limit immunization requirements for children enrolled in child care and the K-12 system. Advocates understood that to defeat these bills, they had to be strategic in their messaging and know when to step in and step back during session. KAC also built several key legislative relationships as a strong defensive strategy to hinder the bills from moving forward.
After a lengthy session, KAC led advocates to successfully stop anti-immunization bills (Sen. Sub for HB 2280, SB 541, and SB 489) that would weaken their current process for required childhood immunizations for child care and public-school attendance. Despite this defeat, anti-immunization bills continue to create traction amongst state leaders, so advocates continue to prepare for future challenges.
As states face new challenges surrounding immunization policies, it is important to rely on data and strategic messaging strategies to defeat harmful bills. To learn more about strategies for advocacy action against harmful immunization bills, check out this last story in collaboration with the Georgetown Center for Children and Families.