Re-Framing the Issue: A Successful Advocacy Campaign in Texas
Anna C. Dragsbaek, Immunization Project, Texas Children's Hospital, 6621 Fannin FC240, Houston, TX, USA and Jason Sabo, United Ways of Texas.
Learning Objectives for this Presentation: By the end of this presentation, participants will be able to identify strategies for increasing legislative success by framing of immunization as an essential emergency preparedness tool.
Background: Immunization debates at the Texas Capitol reflect the pronounced tension between individual rights - including the right to privacy - and the need to protect the public health. This tension and its public health consequences are readily apparent in statutes governing the Texas statewide Immunization Information System, ImmTrac. During the 80th Texas Legislature in 2007, significant progress was made in reforming Texas law in light of the role played by immunizations in public health emergencies
Setting: State legislative and regulatory contexts
Project Description: Stakeholders were convened by a local foundation, St. David's Community Health Foundation in June 2006 for the “ImmTech Summit” and the Texas Immunization Coalition was formed The Coalition chose to create a new language for immunization policy debates and framed the discussion by focusing on the utility of an IIS in a public health emergency, using Hurricane Katrina as a case study. As a result, the Texas Immunization Coalition succeeded in passing legislation (1) permitting first responders and their families to have access to ImmTrac for storing their personal immunization histories; (2) eliminating hurdles that blocked ImmTrac from accepting consent from trusted sources and (3) permitting ImmTrac to compile information in a public health emergency without the barrier of consent.
Results/Lessons Learned: Educating legislators and the public about the importance of IISs and immunizations in a public health emergency helps them to understand the importance of passing legislation that promotes preparedness. The resulting legislation will better prepare Texas for a public health emergency, while also achieving the objective of raising immunization rates during times of normalcy.