I am Dr. Patty Swiney- Fellow of the AAFP and a Past President of the KAFP here in support of HB147. I am also, more importantly, the mom of 2 college students.
Family Docs wear many hats and care for all ages- or as we like to say “from the womb to the tomb”. This includes college age young adults as they transition from being a minor to becoming adults, with all the responsibilities and choices therein.
Family Physicians also encourage health and wellness with the prevention of illness and disease through a healthy lifestyle. This has been proven as the most effective form of healthcare.Immunizations are an important aspect of preventive healthcare and are utilized at all ages as effective prevention of what are referred to as vaccine-preventable disease. Examples are tetanus, pertussis or whooping cough, the flu or influenza, and polio.
The most well-known example of vaccine preventable illness is the measles epidemic that spread rapidly in 2015 at Disneyland. This came about as non-vaccinated people were in close contact with a single measles-infected person. There were a total of 147 people infected in the US, 131 of them being from California. Luckily, there were no deaths but schools and clinics were closed, and a significant number of work and school days were missed with a significant economic impact. All of this was preventable.
Epidemics like this are not isolated to California or other states. Colleges and Universities here in KY have experienced outbreaks of mumps in the past year. Meningitis cases so far have been sporadic but still occur. And even a single case of meningitis is catastrophic as it is potentially deadly- 10 to 15% of meningitis cases are fatal- and there is a prolonged period to recovery with 1 of every 5 survivors having a permanent disability.
Why focus on college students and young adults? They live, eat, and we hope study, all in close quarters. It is a communal lifestyle. Many are on their own for the first time and ignore signs and symptoms of illness; they don’t recognize they are contagious until the disease has been spread to classmates or roommates. And delay of treatment causes prolonged, and costlier, recovery.Currently 20 states require college students to receive the meningitis immunization. KY does not. KY does require 2 MMR vaccinations and 1 dose of meningitis vaccination before entry into the 6th grade. This bill would require the CDC recommended 2nd dose before entry into a post-secondary school.
The Triple Aim Model of Healthcare has 3 purposes and Immunization requirements fulfill all 3. The first is to improve the health of populations- evidence based research establishes that vaccinations do this. Second, is to enhance the outcomes of patients. Vaccines prevent illness and there is no better outcome than to be disease-free. Thirdly, the Triple Aim strives to reduce the cost of healthcare. For every $1 spent on immunization, we save $10 on healthcare costs treating that illness.
And this is why the KAFP fully supports HB 147 and encourages you to protect Kentucky’s future.