TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The House Committee on Education held a hearing on vaccine requirements that drew a big crowd to the Statehouse. Vaccines have become a divisive issue over the last few years. Now, Kansas Representative Steve Huebert is introducing legislation that would give lawmakers more input on vaccinations required for K-12 students.
Currently, vaccination requirements are decided by the Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), but Huebert says that’s not enough.
“I do believe there needs to be checks and balances and that’s kind of the intent of my bill, to send that message,” explained Huebert, R-Valley City. “Right now, even if we objected to something that he did, we wouldn’t be able to stop it unless we proposed legislation.”
Huebert says as representatives of the people of Kansas, lawmakers should have more input into what requirements are being expected of Kansas students and their parents. Proponents at the meeting alleged that KDHE was requiring too many vaccinations for school kids. Many argued that vaccines have adverse side effects. However, health care professionals feel differently.
“These diseases that we now kind of forget about because we’ve been vaccinating against them for so long, they’re life-altering, some of them are deadly,” said Dr. Randy Schumacher, a Pediatrician and vaccine researcher at Stormont Vail Hospital. “A lot of time kids will have a little bit of soreness wherever they got the vaccine. They might be a little fussy that day. But beyond that there’s really not any serious side effects.”
Dr. Schumacher, and opponents of the bill, say decisions on what vaccinations are required for students should not involve lawmakers.
“The best people to be able to tell whether kids need this vaccine or not are the public health officials, the people at KDHE and it’s going to be taking that away from them,” said Schumacher. “So we’re a little scared about that.”
Huebert says his bill includes provisions for emergencies where the KDHE secretary would not need permission from the legislature.
“We need to work together. I think this is a good first step to doing that,” said Huebert.
The meeting Thursday was just to hear testimony. No decisions on the bill have been made.