Kansas’ Immunize and Win a Prize Program Promotes Childhood Vaccinations

February 02, 2015|5:13 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Childhood vaccination has been a hot topic in the news recently thanks to reports of a growing measles epidemic in California and surrounding areas. States, however, have been grappling with low childhood immunization rates in certain populations for many years, leading some to develop their own innovative  methods of ensuring that children receive necessary vaccines.

Back in 2003, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) embarked on a creative plan to try to improve immunization rates in the state, particularly in low-income areas, through the Immunize and Win a Prize program. More than ten years later, the program is still going strong. KDHE partnered with Vaccines for Children (VFC), a CDC-funded initiative that buys vaccines at a discount and distributes them to health departments across the country to provide immunizations for children whose parents might not otherwise be able to afford them. Kansas then took the national VFC effort a step further by providing gifts like wet wipes, hand sanitizer, and sippy cups at each of four primary immunization series visits for children under age 2.

Children in the program receive the vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, including  4 DTap (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), 3 polio, 1 MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), 3 Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type B), 3 HepB (hepatitis B), 1 varicella, and 4 PCV (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine). Families of children who complete the entire vaccine series by age 2 are entered into a drawing for a $300 payment to be applied to a family's utility bill, and one family wins for each participating VFC provider.

While the program was initially created to address immunization disparities in children receiving Medicaid, currently all Kansas children are eligible to participate in the Immunize and Win a Prize program if they receive their vaccines from registered VFC providers. The VFC program benefits both providers, whose vaccine costs are subsidized by VFC, and families, who have the opportunity to protect their children from preventable diseases. Since KDHE began its Immunize and Win a Prize program, immunization rates have doubled in certain populations and increased as much as 78 percent in others. The program was initially funded using tobacco settlement money, but the state is looking for additional sources of funding to continue this valuable work.

To learn more about the Kansas Department of Health and Environment's Immunize and Win a Prize program, read the full story from ASTHO's "Have You Shared" story collection. View ASTHO's complete collection of stories at www.astho.org/stories.