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State, local vaccination rates a mixed bag
Barton County seeing improvement, albeit slight
vaccination rates
State and local vaccination rates have increased, but officials seen room for improvement.

TOPEKA – Statewide, there is reason to be pleased with the results of an immunization survey released Thursday. Closer to home, Barton County health officials remain cautiously optimistic.

The National Immunization Survey regarding Teens released its annual report for 2018 which shows Kansas vaccination rates are either improving or holding constant. This report is available in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, “our rates are still not were we want them to be,” said Barton County Health Director Shelly Schneider. “But, they are getting better.”

For HPV (human papillomavirus) and MenACWY (a meningococcal vaccine covering a range of disease-causing bacteria), the numbers are getting better, the survey notes. And for Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), they have held steady. The survey, which is conducted among teens ages 13 to 17, monitors the vaccines received by adolescents, specifically HPV, MenACWY and Tdap.

“In 2014, Kansas had the lowest coverage in the nation for the HPV vaccine with only 34.4 percent of respondents reporting one or more doses received,” said KDHE Secretary Lee Norman, MD. “I’m very pleased to report that Kansas is now at 62.3 percent coverage in 2018, up significantly from 52.4 percent in 2017.” 

“We have a lot of work to do still,” Schneider said. The county should have rates between 80-90%. 

She attributed some of the county’s success to efforts like a joint vaccination partnership between the Health Department, Great Bend High School and Clara Barton Hospital. “We gave out a lot of doses, that was a very strong positive.”

Other activities that have contributed to the increase in HPV Vaccination coverage, include:

• Education for vaccine providers throughout the state during Vaccines For Children program site visits.

• Education provided at Kansas Immunization Conferences

• Development of HPV Toolkit by the Immunize Kansas Coalition funded by the KDHE.

• Multiple partner organizations conducting efforts to increase awareness and importance of the HPV vaccine.

• Focus on the importance of provider recommendation to patients to receive the vaccine.

Kansas has seen an average increase in HPV coverage of 6.3 percentage points annually since 2014 while the national average increase has been 4.4.

“One of the most significant factors to successful vaccination against HPV cancer appears to be a recommendation from a medical provider,” Norman said. 

The survey demonstrates that, in Kansas for 2018, of those who received the recommendation from a medical provider, 69.5 percent received the vaccination while only 35.8 percent received the vaccination without a provider recommendation. 

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) routinely recommends HPV vaccination at age 11 or 12. In addition, ACIP has recently updated their recommendation to include some adults up to age 45 based on the safety and effectiveness of this vaccine against some HPV cancers.

The MenACWY vaccine coverage increased from 72.1 percent in 2017 to 75.3 percent in 2018. This school year, MenACWY has just become a required vaccination for school entry.

In Barton County, Schneider said the rates for vaccinations in general are difficult to calculate, The only data she has comes from what her department handles, not from other vaccine providers in the county.

So, her figures give an incomplete picture. She just knows her numbers have shown modest gains, but she can’t speak for everyone else.

But, Schneider said she is in the process of compiling these statistics.

What are the vaccines?

• Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) – protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Recommended for ages 11-13. Healthy People 2020 target is 80 percent coverage. Kansas 2018 rate is 89.4 percent.

• MenACWY – protects against certain strains of meningococcal disease. Recommended for ages 11-13 with a booster dose at age 16. Healthy People 2020 target is 80 percent. Kansas 2018 rate is 75.3 percent.

• HPV (human papillomavirus) – protects against HPV related cancers. Two dose series recommended for ages 11-13. Doses administered six months apart. If first dose is not given before 15th birthday, a three-dose series is needed. Healthy People 2020 target is 80 percent. The Kansas 2018 rate is 62.3 for one or more doses, 40.7 percent.