State Strategies Encouraging Vaccination

December 14, 2017|2:18 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Last week, CDC observed National Influenza Vaccination Week to raise awareness about the need of continued flu vaccination through the holiday season. Reports of early regional flu outbreaks and a severe flu season in the southern hemisphere suggest that the U.S. flu season may be particularly hard-hitting, underlying the importance of getting an annual flu vaccination, especially those populations most vulnerable to the flu—i.e., the very young, pregnant women, and adults over the age of 65.

In 2017, state policymakers adopted several strategies to encourage people to get vaccinated. Lawmakers in Alabama (HB 381) and Georgia (HB 198) required school boards or districts to share information about the flu and recommendations issued by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) with parents and guardians. ACIP currently recommends influenza vaccines for all individuals older than six months of age. Additionally, Missouri (SB 501), Nebraska (LB 267), and West Virginia (HB 2431) enacted laws to encourage flu vaccines for populations in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and skilled nursing facilities. For example, in Nebraska, the new law required nursing facilities to offer both residents and staff a flu vaccine annually.

Several states, including Hawaii (SB 514), Indiana (SB 51), Kansas (HB 2030), Kentucky (SB 101), Wisconsin (SB 172), and West Virginia (HB 2518) made it easier for people to get flu vaccinations from pharmacists. The most common change was reducing the age of the person who a properly trained pharmacist can administer the vaccine to. For example, in Kansas, the age was reduced from 18 to 12, in Kentucky from 13 to 9, and in Wisconsin the age was reduced from 18 to 6.

With flu season underway, there is still time to get vaccinated and help reduce the spread of flu. As the year ends and 2018 begins, ASTHO will continue to track state and territorial vaccination legislation and keep members informed.