Updated
July 22nd, 2019

Kansas Expands School Vaccine Requirements

Meningococcal and hepatitis A vaccinations now required for Kansas students

school bus and child

Two new vaccines will be required for school-age children to attend class in Kansas for the 2019-20 school year. 

In a letter dated July 18, 2019, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) announced the following vaccine requirements for this academic year: 

  • Vaccinations are required by August 2, 2019,
  • Students entering Kindergarten and Grade 1 now need two doses of the hepatitis A vaccine,
  • Students entering Grade 7 need one dose of the meningococcal ACWY vaccine,
  • Students entering Grade 11 need one dose of the meningococcal ACWY vaccine if not vaccinated prior to their 16th birthday. They will need two doses if their first dose was before their 16th birthday. 

These vaccine requirements are in addition to the 2018-2019 Kansas school year schedule. 

“We received many comments and input from all viewpoints,” KDHE Secretary Lee Norman said in a press release. 

“We looked at the evidence. Both Meningitis and Hepatitis A illnesses are severe and preventable, and the safety profile of the vaccines is well-recognized. As an agency charged to establish policies that protect and improve the lives of Kansans, we felt the addition of the two vaccines was essential for the health and safety of our state.” 

About these vaccines

  • Meningococcal ACWY Vaccine: The meningococcal ACWY vaccine protects against meningococcal disease, which has two common outcomes: meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) and bloodstream infections. The bacteria that cause meningococcal disease spread through the exchange of nose and throat droplets, such as when coughing, sneezing, or kissing. Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck. With bloodstream infection, symptoms also include a dark purple rash. About one of every 10 people who get the disease dies from it. Survivors of meningococcal disease may lose their arms or legs, become deaf, have problems with their nervous systems, become developmentally disabled, or suffer seizures or strokes. The Menactra vaccine is indicated for active immunization to prevent invasive meningococcal disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroups A, C, Y, and W-135. 
  • Hepatitis A Vaccine:  The hepatitis A vaccine protects against the hepatitis A virus. The virus is spread primarily person to person through the fecal-oral route. In other words, the virus is taken in by mouth from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces (stool) of an infected person. Symptoms can include fever, tiredness, poor appetite, vomiting, stomach pain and sometimes jaundice (when skin and eyes turn yellow). An infected person may have no symptoms, may have a mild illness for a week or two, may have a severe illness for several months, or may rarely develop liver failure and die from the infection. There are 3 HAV vaccines approved in the USA, Vaqta, Havrix, and Twinrix, which are available at pharmacies in most states.

Furthermore, in accordance with KSA 72-6262, legal alternatives to vaccination requirements include medical contraindications and religious beliefs. The medical exemptions signed by a medical clinician must be submitted on an annual basis by the family/guardian of the student.   

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Additionally, there could also be instances in which a person has a religious belief that prevents them from receiving a particular vaccination. The parent/guardian of the student must submit a written statement indicating they are adherent of a religious denomination whose religious teachings are opposed to such vaccination.   

Local school boards or governing body for nonpublic schools are responsible for ensuring compliance with these vaccination regulations and statutes in Kansas. 

Regarding the cost of these vaccines, the Vaccines For Children program is a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children who might not otherwise be vaccinated because of inability to pay.

And, for those who do not qualify for the Vaccines-For-Children program, financial support programs can be found at Vaccine Discounts.

Vaccines can cause side effects, which should be reported to a healthcare provider, or the CDC.