Back-to-School News - The Ohio Upshot

By Joan Hlinomaz, MS, BSN, RN, NCSN posted 08-11-2018 13:05

August 7, 2018   
Back to School
Vaccines should be on the K-College back-to-school checklist!  
August seems like an odd time to say summer's almost over, but for many Ohio schoolchildren and college students, it's true.  
Healthcare providers, parents and guardians, and school officials are  preparing for the upcoming school year and double-checking Ohio's vaccination requirements for students
headed back to class.      
We were able to spend some time recently with Joan Hlinomaz, president of the Ohio Association of School Nurses. Read her interview to learn more about Ohio's school nurses heading back to school and projects they are working on.  

Also, August is also National Immunization Awareness Month. This annual recognition highlights the importance of vaccination for people of all ages.  
You can help raise public awareness about the importance of vaccines. The National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC). NPHIC, in collaboration with CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, have made available a number of outreach toolkits to help you educate people of all ages about vaccines. For more information and to download the communication toolkits, visit NPHIC's NIAM website.

Joan Hlinomaz, MS, BSN, RN, LSN, NCSN
President, Ohio Asscoc of School Nurses
The Immunization Advocacy Network of Ohio was happy to catch up with Joan Hlinomaz, MS, BSN, RN, LSN, NCSN and current president of the Ohio Association of School Nurses. There are approximately 1,500 school nurses in Ohio preparing for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year.
Q.  How is the Association preparing for back to school?
A.  Each year the OASN offers kits for school nurses that include tools they can use to support the health needs of the student population. Additionally, this year the OASN partnered with the Ohio Department of Education and the Governor's office on the "Ohio School Based Health Care." This initiative focuses on two primary goals:
  • Promote the need for licensed school nurses in schools, and;
  • Have the school nurses connect with primary healthcare physicians and mental health professionals in their community to work together on student health issues.
For additional information on the tool kits and the School Based Health Care Initiative, please visit:
Q.  How are things going with communicating with parents about the upcoming required vaccines (7th grade, etc.)?  Are you seeing compliance rates go up?
A.  Immunization compliance rates continue to be a challenge for Ohio schools and is a priority for the OASN. Unfortunately, we continue to see compliance rates on a state-wide level decrease, but it should be noted that we are not at an all-time vaccination low. We know that as parents are educated about vaccines, they are more likely to vaccinate. Immunizations are intended to help keep healthy kids healthy and in the classroom.
Q.  What is new in the world of school nursing?
A.  I just returned from the national conference of the National Association of School Nursesand am excited to share a brand-new initiative that starts this year across the country. It is called "Every Student Counts National School Data Set." Each state will create a committee to collect consistent data to illustrate a school's health. This data is designed to show measurable outcomes that can be communicated to the community and policy makers.
This program was created and developed by the National Association of School Nurses as a grassroots effort to use at the local level. In Ohio, the Professional Practice committee within the OASN will be tasked with conducting this data research project. One area where they hope to show solid statistics is how schools fare with dedicated licensed school nurses compared to schools without a school nurse when it comes to immunization compliance rates. The OASN has always suspected, and national research shows, that schools with a dedicated licensed nurse have been higher immunization compliance rates. 

Q.  From a personal level, how long have you been a school nurse?  What has been the biggest change or innovation from when you started?

A.   I've been a school nurse for 16 years and have spent the last 12 years in the Kettering City School District, near Dayton. I have 30 years experience as a nurse and before becoming a school nurse, I worked in variety of healthcare settings including hospitals, home health care and a managed care company.


The biggest change of my school nursing career has been the complexity of the health care needs of students. When I started, most of my work focused on student wellness and health promotion. Now, school nurses face many students with complex health conditions like, diabetes, food allergies, cancer treatments, etc. For example, one of my students was awaiting an organ transplant last year. I was able to work with this student, the teachers, parents, administrators and health care providers to keep them on track academically. By collaborating, we were able to meet our student's health care needs while ensuring they didn't fall behind in the classroom. Fortunately, this student underwent a successful transplant and will be in high school this fall!


Q.  On a personal level, what do you like to do in your free time? 

A.  I have been married for 25 years and have two grown children. My son completed his college degree in chemical engineering at OSU and now works for the federal government in Virginia. My daughter is currently studying vocal music performance (classical) at the Boston Conservatory of Music. In my spare time, my husband and I like to travel to see our children and enjoy riding bikes. In fact, we really like the "rails to trails" bike system in Ohio and hope to explore routes outside of SW Ohio.

Now's a great time to talk about House Bill 559!

The state legislature is on break until this fall and now is a terrific time to schedule a personal visit with your state representative. Personal visits are an effective way to discuss vaccination issues, including House Bill 559, the Ohio Immunization Process Improvement Plan. Legislators want to meet and hear from their constituents.
  • Call your legislators office with an invitation and follow-up with a letter confirming the date and time of the meeting once it has been set.
  • Share a fact sheet about your organization. IANO can provide a fact sheet about HB 559 that you can share.
  • Be prepared to explain how your organization impacts the members in your community.
  • If you don't know the answer to a question, say you'll find out and get back to him/her.
  • Legislators are not experts on most issues before them and rely on the experts in their district to educate them. Before he or she leaves, ask how you can be of help to them.
House Bill 559
The Ohio Immunization Process Improvement Plan: WHAT IT DOES
  • Boosts Ohio's immunization rates and keeps our children safe and healthy.
  • All parents, including those with an immunocompromised child, will have the information about opt-out rates they need to make an informed decision about schools.
The Ohio Immunization Process Improvement Plan: WHAT IT DOES NOT DO
  • It DOES NOT impact current exemptions or mandate vaccines.
  • It DOES NOT in any way change the ability of parents to make decisions regarding whether or not to immunize their child.

Ohio Upshot
Ohio Upshot is a newsletter to help educate policy makers, community leaders and the public on the valuable role vaccines play in keeping our schools, workplaces and communities healthy.  It is sent to you by the Immunization Advocacy Network of Ohio, a network of public health advocates, medical associations, education groups, community organizations and others committed to a healthy Ohio.     

For information about the Immunization Advocacy Network of Ohio, to suggest content for future issues, or if you know of an organization that wishes to join IANO, please contact Jenny Camper at
Immunization Advocacy Network of Ohio | 614-224-0658
Facebook Logo