Immunization providers, public health officials and vaccine supporters gathered in Columbus to meet with elected officials and be briefed on House Bill 559, the Immunization Information Improvement Plan. The event was organized by the Immunization Advocacy Network of Ohio (IANO).
Ohio House Bill 559, sponsored by State Representatives Anne Gonzales (R-Westerville) and Al Landis (R-Dover), calls for a streamlined process on how data concerning immunization opt-out is handled and reported, for school-age children. Provisions in the bill include:
· Establishes a universal immunization information form for all school districts to use and requires that a physician, advanced practice nurse or health department nurse sign the form for all required immunizations for Kindergarten, school entry, and grades 7 and 12. This universal form also calls for parents or guardians asking for a vaccine waiver to have a dialogue with a healthcare provider to ensure they have all the appropriate medical and scientific information prior to making health care decisions such as immunizing their child.
· Streamlines how the statewide immunization rates are reported, so that public health officials, stakeholders and parents can know the opt-out rate, by school building.
Bill sponsors introduced H.B. 559 to help improve the reliability of Ohio’s immunization data. Currently, the rates of unvaccinated children are unknown, and this prevents public health officials from knowing critical data in case of disease outbreak. It also prevents parents of children who cannot be vaccinated because of allergies or other compromised medical issues, from knowing the potential for exposure.
The bill makes zero changes in the ability of parents and caregivers to choose to vaccinate, or not. In addition, the legislation does not call for disclosure of a student’s vaccine status or personal identity.
“Healthcare providers use every opportunity available to protect Ohio children, especially from vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Melissa Wervey Arnold, Chief Executive Officer of the Ohio Chapter-American Academy of Pediatrics. “By fully streamlining Ohio’s immunization data, which is already in place with state licensed child care centers, H.B. 559 protects parental rights and children’s private medical information.”
In addition to providing private briefings with legislators, more than 60 vaccine advocates and legislators gathered for a breakfast program. Presenters included Melissa Wervey Arnold, Chief Executive Officer of the Ohio Chapter-American Academy of Pediatrics; Rep. Al Landis (R-Dover); Dr. William Cotton, Ohio Chapter-American Academy of Pediatrics; Dr. Sarah Denny, Ohio Chapter-American Academy of Pediatrics; and Dr. Denise Warrick, Ohio Chapter-American Academy of Pediatrics.
IANO is a network of immunization providers and supporters who share information, best practices and serve as a collective voice educating and advocating for vaccines in Ohio.