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Health officials stress importance of HPV vaccine
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 In other business Monday morning, the Barton County Commission:

• Approved the transfer of money from the Oil and Gas Valuation Depletion Trust Fund. The fund was created as a hedge for counties against future declines in oil and gas production and the decline of tax revenue that would follow. In July, 2014, the Commission adopted a plan where 60 percent of the funds received would be transferred to the Equipment Replacement Fund and the remaining 40 percent to Capital Improvement via general use lines. Subsequent to that action, Adams, Brown, Beran and Ball, the County’s auditors, have expressed the need for the county to use a “transfer in” line for these transactions. County Clerk Donna Zimmerman and Financial Officer Jessica Wilson provided the details.

• Heard a report on the annual tax sale held Oct. 13 at the courthouse. At the time of the sale, 14 parcels remained. With Commissioner Kenny Schremmer donating his services at the auction and 24 bidders present, the county was able to sell all the tracts. 

The county collected $78,550, with another $112 in filing fees. Of that, there is a possibility of $37,443.23 being returned as an overage. 

The overages – purchases more than taxes owed – may be redeemed by persons with an interest in the property sold, County Treasurer Kevin Wondra said. The county does not keep these excess funds and if the interested parties cannot be contacted, the money goes to the state as unclaimed.

• Discussed the legislative platform for the Kansas Association of Counties annual conference Nov. 3–5. Member Counties will be called to review the issues and determine the platform’s final form. It will then be utilized during the upcoming legislative session to promote issues related to county government. Each year, Barton County reviews and considers the KAC Platform and other initiatives that may have local interest. 

 Kansas is ranked 50th in the continental United States in immunization rates for the cancer-causing human papilloma virus, Barton County Health Director Shelly Schneider told county commissioners Monday morning.

“This is a call to the community,” she said. As HPV plays a significant role in cervical, head and neck cancers, it is important that males and females, ages 9-26, be vaccinated.

“This is not only to protect your daughters and your sons,” she said. “It’s to protect your daughters in law and sons in law.”

The virus has been a topic for about the past 10 years, she said. At first, only younger girls were targeted for the vaccinations.

However, Schneider said much has been learned about HPV, which is spread via various forms of intimate contact (from kissing to intercourse). It was determined that unexplained cancers in young men were attributable to the virus.

The affects of HPV may not show up for 10 years, she said. And, it takes four years for someone to build up their immunity following the three-shot vaccination series.

That’s why it is important to get to kids while they are young.

But, “we’re struggling getting into schools,” she said. “It’s a taboo topic.”

Even so, “cancer is too risky to mess with,” she said. “It’s a grenade with the pin pulled.”

With HPV-related cancer rates increasing 5 percent per year and with Barton County having a higher cancer rate than other parts of the state, this vaccine is critical, she said.

And, she stressed, the vaccine is proven and is safe.

As a part of the “Call of Help,” the Barton County Health Department and the Heartland Cancer Center are joining forces and sponsoring a documentary viewing on HPV Cancers and the effects on families from 10 am to noon Saturday, Nov. 21, at the Crest Theater, Lakin and Kansas, Great Bend.

Health department staff will provide the HPV vaccine at the event. 


In other health department news, Schneider said the Kansas Department of Health and Environment partners with the Kansas Immunization Registry to use the WEB IZ program as an inventory tool to monitor vaccines for children. 

The Barton County Health Department is now “Direct Entry” site for Web IZ. This will allow the department to monitor all vaccines and easily identify funding sources, said.

If someone has lost their immunization records or unsure of what immunizations they have had, this site can provide that information, she said. Only licensed providers have access to the site for security reasons, but someone only has to call one of these providers to get the information.

WEB IZ has been up for only 11 or 12 years, so the data base may not included records for older Kansans. However, if a resident has records they want entered into they system, the health department can do so.

This site was helpful during the whooping cough outbreak earlier this year, Schneider said. It is also a benefit to our increasingly transient population.

Family planning funds

Like other Kansas counties, BCHD participates in the Family Planning Grant provided by KDHE, which includes Title X monies. In state Fiscal Year 2016, Barton County was awarded $37,556, less than the county requested. 

On Oct. 2, BCHD received notification that an additional $13,460 was awarded. This brings total funding to the original request of $51,016. 

The commission approved accepting the additional funds.