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Sedgwick Co. Health Department To Offer Travel Immunizations Again

Deborah Shaar
KMUW/File Photo
Sedgwick County commissioners meet earlier this year.

The Sedgwick County commissioners reversed course on whether the county health department should provide travel immunizations.

At their meeting on Wednesday, commissioners voted 3-2 to reinstate the program.

The Sedgwick County Health Department stopped offering travel vaccines in January as the 2017 budget took effect. It’s a service the department had been offering for more than 10 years until the commissioners voted to end the program during the budget process last summer.

Commissioner Jim Howell said he wants pharmacies and private clinics to fill that need.

"My point is, we should not offer things that the private sector is willing and able and desiring to do," Howell said. "In government, we should not be doing those things."

The health department offers about 20 standard immunizations for children and adults as needed. It will now begin restocking the four vaccines – rabies pre-exposure, typhoid, yellow fever and travel immune serum globulin – required for some travel destinations.

The health department’s Director of Preventative Health Preston Goering says the county provided about 17,000 routine immunizations to children and adults last year. Travel immunizations account for a small percentage. In 2015, the health department provided 1,281 travel shots, he says.

Commissioner David Dennis said Wednesday that providing the travel immunizations is a core function of county government.

"We are the board of health, and we are responsible for the health of all the citizens in Sedgwick County," Dennis said.

Dennis, Chairman Dave Unruh and Commissioner Michael O’Donnell voted in favor of the reinstatement. Commissioners Howell and Richard Ranzau voted against.

The commissioners’ approval means about $138,000 will be added back in the county budget to pay for the vaccine stock. The county already provides an additional $21,000 to the program to pay for the health department staff needed to administer travel immunizations.


Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.


Deborah joined the news team at KMUW in September 2014 as a news reporter. She spent more than a dozen years working in news at both public and commercial radio and television stations in Ohio, West Virginia and Detroit, Michigan. Before relocating to Wichita in 2013, Deborah taught news and broadcasting classes at Tarrant County College in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.