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ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- The National Partnership for Immunization (NPI) has designated August 2004 as National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). Each year, this commemorative month increases awareness about immunization across the lifespan as parents and children prepare for the return to school, and the medical community begins preparations for the upcoming flu season. For more information, go to: www.partnersforimmunixation.org.
The recipients of the 2004 Excellence in Immunization Awards are:
-- Addressing Disparities Awards
Pennsylvania Department of Health, Division of Immunization/Adult Immunization Enhancement Project (AIEP) The AIEP was developed to implement outreach, awareness and immunization activities during influenza season to reach historically under-immunized minority populations. In 2003, this project delivered over 32,000 doses of influenza and over 1,300 doses of pneumococcal vaccine to its target population, persons 65 years of age and older, that have been underserved due to racial, ethnic, or geographical factors. AIEP is supported through mini grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Local organizations identified as State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) partners develop collaborative community-based adult immunization projects and target influenza vaccination activities in their local communities. During 2003 the 20 participating SHIP partners used the mini grants as seed money to develop and expand outreach in collaboration with other community partners in their areas. Outreach activities included 30 separate newspaper acknowledgements, nine radio station spots and three television public service announcements. SHIP partners also collaborated with community-based organizations such as churches, Meals on Wheels programs, diabetes support groups, hospitals, county medical societies, YMCAs and others.
Turley Family Health Center (TFHC) TFHC was established in Pinellas County, Florida in 1999 to offer a continuum of medical care to a medically underserved neighborhood. In 2002, TFHC initiated a newborn pediatric practice that provides for a continuity of care to increase immunization rates while assuring the availability of well-child care for infants and their siblings. Key to the immunization programs success is contact with expectant mothers during their third trimester, the time when they decide where their infants will be taken for care after delivery. At that time, patients are encouraged to make a Get Acquainted Visit in the family practice center. Once a newborn is established at the center, follow-up visits are scheduled. The primary goal is to have at least 90 percent of the children within the program fully immunized before the age of two. TFHC serves the rapidly growing Hispanic population in the community and has implemented programs that are reducing the disparities in child immunization rates due to language or cultural barriers, mistrust of traditional health care, and lack of medical insurance. Pediatric patients now comprise 30 percent of the total patient volume; the number of vaccine doses provided increased from 750 doses in 2001 to 4,115 in 2003.
Alabama Quality Assurance Foundation (AQAF) IZ Alabama Covered? The AQAF IZ Alabama Covered? Flu and Pneumonia Prevention Campaign was initiated in 2002 to increase awareness, acceptance and use of influenza vaccine among the states 730,000 senior adults. The Campaign uses a coordinated grassroots effort to increase pneumonia and flu vaccination rates with a focus on the statewide Medicare population. A key element is a wallet-size plastic insurance card holder and adult immunization record. The card holder provides beneficiaries with a simple and convenient means for keeping their Medicare and insurance cards and their immunization records in one place. The Campaign is made up of three initiatives: building an effective statewide volunteer network to promote the campaign; providing a unique infrastructure, incentives, and support for the campaign; and utilizing media outreach to reinforce and enhance public impact. To date, 1,336 volunteers in 49 of Alabamas 67 counties have participated as campaign partners, with volunteers ranging from age 5 to 82. More than 240,000 Medicare Card Covers have been distributed to volunteers. Recent data show a 66% increase in the volume of doses of flu vaccine administered in Alabama from 2002 to 2003. Over an 18- month period, the campaign was featured in 34 print articles and 21 broadcasts reaching a combined audience of 5.1 million. Contact: Betsy S. Frazer, RN, BS, (205) 970-1600 x3511.
Visiting Nurse Service, Inc. (VNS), Immunization Programs Two campaigns from VNS are helping to raise disease awareness and vaccine use in Indianapolis, Indiana. VNS is a non-profit, Medicare-certified home health agency providing nursing and hospice care, and other health services. Their Bugbuster Flu and Pneumonia Shot Campaign targets those at high risk for contracting influenza, particularly persons 65 and older. Public education and outreach are conducted through collaboration with the media, and programs such as drive-thru clinics and clinics at churches and local libraries. Media involvement includes the Annual Donut Promotion, when Bugbuster Campaign participants go to all of the local television and radio stations with donuts and a press kit and provide flu shots on-air to disc jockeys and other on-air talent. The number of flu and pneumonia vaccinations given by VNS has risen each year, with a 22% increase from 2002 to 2003. VNSs Meningitis Vaccination Program focuses on meningococcal immunization of high school seniors, to protect them from this disease before they enter college because college freshmen are six times more likely to contract meningitis than the rest of the population. Through an effective media campaign, mailing information to high school seniors, conducting in-school immunization clinics and other activities, VNS has raised disease awareness and vaccine use in their service area. Contact: Judy Moon, (317) 722-8200.
Non-Traditional Partner Award
Southeast Michigan Partners Project The Partners Project brings together distinct communities, including insurers, employers, car manufacturers, public health and other stakeholders to develop projects promoting and implementing adult immunization services. Activities have included a Worksite Survey that provided policymakers and employers managing worksite programs with information about flu vaccine availability in the workplace, including an evaluation of the impact of co-payments on access to the vaccine. This project informed partners, policymakers and employers about the effectiveness of worksite flu programs and provided information for improving program offerings. The Partners Project began a pilot program in 2003 that uses a combination of influenza immunization prompts/reminders and standing orders within the inpatient setting. Partners expect to use the results of the pilot to encourage hospitals to either continue programming efforts or to start inpatient immunization programs. The Partners also anticipate that this initiative will influence immunization billing and payment policies. Data collected from the pilot program will be used to encourage hospitals to introduce or enhance systematic efforts to increase inpatient immunization practices for adults. Contact: Terrisca Des Jardins, MHSA, (734) 769-1247.
Norman Regional Hospital Through chart reviews, reminder systems, standing orders, and staff education programs, Norman Regional Hospital has systematically evaluated nearly 33,000 patients since 2000 and administered over 5,200 doses of pneumococcal vaccine to eligible patients. This community hospital provides comprehensive health care to the citizens of Norman as well as many surrounding rural areas. In December 1999, a hospital-wide inpatient pneumococcal immunization program was implemented. The need for such a program was realized after review of 100 patient medical records found that immunization status had not been determined for any of the patients, and that none of the eligible patients had been immunized against pneumococcal disease. An interdisciplinary group championed by a clinical physician and the hospitals Infection Committee Chair was created to develop a program that would identify patients in need of pneumococcal immunization at the time he/she was admitted to the institution and culminate with pneumococcal vaccine administration upon discharge in those eligible patients. The program incorporates a series of steps to be taken both by hospital staff and patients and has recently been expanded to provide for the administration of influenza vaccination of inpatients during the appropriate months.
Jane Brody, New York Times Health columnist Jane Brody has been with the New York Times for over two decades. Her syndicated column is published weekly in over 100 newspapers. She has written scores of magazines articles and numerous books on health and nutrition, including the best selling Jane Brodys Nutrition Book and Jane Brodys Good Food Book. At the age of 8, Brody had what her pediatrician called the ''worst case of chickenpox'' he had ever seen. This past spring she wrote two columns about chickenpox and the importance of the varicella vaccine, a vaccine that was unavailable to her. Brody has written numerous articles about the importance of vaccinations, including an article in March 2004 about pertussis, the only vaccine-preventable disease that is still increasing in this country.
Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) Senators Bingaman and Smith jointly introduced the Vaccines for Children (VFC) expansion bill to ensure that more children and adolescents will receive timely, routine immunizations. Both Senators have supported increased funding for section 317 programs. They both serve on the Senate Finance Committee and support improvement and expansion of quality health care for children, pregnant women and their families through Medicaid, SCHIP and other programs that address immunization across the lifespan.