Immunization coalition staff may choose to implement a campaign that incorporates the education of local and state legislators, or only focuses on legislative action. Congress is responsible for helping to fund your state immunization program (through the 317 program) while state legislators are responsible for deciding what type of vaccine-related legislation, such as vaccine exemption laws, should or should not be implemented in your state.
Ensuring pro-vaccine legislation in your state is often challenging, but essential. As state and federal employees of the immunization programs are not allowed to “lobby”, immunization coalitions are essential. Coalitions should consider partnering with local medical associations, vaccine advocates, and people who have been negatively affected by vaccine-preventable diseases. State immunization mandates can be found on the Immunization Action Coalition website. For example, a coalition may want to fight vaccine exemption legislation under consideration in their state or local legislature. To help those coalitions, ECBT has created a policy statement on this issue, Daycare Center and Schools Immunization Mandates, which can be shared with governors, state, and other legislators. State immunization programs and coalitions may also want to work on legislation that mandates specific vaccines for school entry or usage of the state immunization information system.
Every Child By Two is a member of the steering committee of the 317 Coalition, a group that advocates for increased funding for “Section 317" of the Public Health Service Act. The 317 program provides funding for immunization operations and infrastructure necessary to implement a comprehensive immunization program at the federal, state, and local levels and it also provides a safety net program of grants to states to immunize children, adolescents and adults who have no other means to pay for vaccinations. The 317 Coalition’s mission is to educate Members of Congress about the needs of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention immunization program, and advocate for increased federal appropriations to ensure that children and adults can receive recommended vaccines to protect them from disease. As new vaccines have become available since 2000, the 317 program has steadily been losing ground in its ability to ensure that underinsured children can receive recommended vaccines. During this recent period, the cost of providing new vaccines has forced the program to reduce the number of children assisted by more than half. Furthermore, the 317 program has never been able to adequately fund adult immunization programs that protect seniors and others from common diseases such as seasonal influenza that claim tens of thousands of lives each year. A large amount of additional funding is needed for the 317 program in order to keep pace with new vaccines, expanded vaccine recommendations, operational and administrative funding needs, and enhanced vaccine safety activities. For more information on the 317 Coalition, visit their website.
By signing up as an ECBT advocate we will alert you to issues taking place in your local community as well as on the federal level.