Improvements Needed Before New Camp Regulations

Proposed local vaccination law needs more work

February 12, 2020

On February 12, the Board of Supervisors announced that the proposed camp vaccination law won’t be passed prior to Summer 2020. Since November I have pointed to major flaws in the proposed legislation. Some improvements were made, but not enough to make it a sensible policy.

1. Collaborate with Stakeholders

To date, the writers and supporters of the local law have not adequately consulted with the people who will be most directly impacted by the local law. The local law seeks to require camps to document vaccinations for youth attendees and counselors. However, the Hudson Youth Department, which runs the very important Oakdale Summer Camp, was not consulted on the local law and has not had a chance to provide feedback. Moreover, the resolution’s supporters did not provide any evidence that any camp, camp staff, or camp attendee has been consulted. Camp staff from around the county have expressed concern that this law would limit their ability to hire staff and recruit volunteers to run programs. Consider that many volunteers or prospective employees will find it very difficult to provide proof that they have the chickenpox or Pneumococcal vaccine. The County Public Health Department and Youth Bureau should meet with camp operators, counselors, and families to build consensus.

2. Create Equity

Many adults don’t have documentation of their vaccinations and immunities, especially those that haven’t had regular health insurance. Rather than create barriers for underinsured workers to access job opportunities, the local law needs to help workers access safe and healthy work opportunities. I support an amendment that ensures people who can’t afford vaccinations, can get a vaccination free of charge. The Public Health Department should collaborate with camps to review how this would be implemented.

3. Use Science

The resolution should use the best available science as the framework for its requirements. The resolution called for a list of requirements significantly different from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations. The resolution failed to take into account the different recommendations based on age creating a context where certain age groups might find it impossible to comply.

4. Use Evidence and Case Studies

The resolution’s supporters did not provide any evidence that the new regulations will have a positive impact nor did they provide any examples of other counties that have enacted similar laws. We should use best practices to guide our public health policy.

Interested in public health policy? Contact me to share your concerns.