Houston’s immunization rates are the highest level in years, thanks to the combined efforts of doctors, nurses and projects like Immunization Champions, a flagship program of The Immunization Partnership.
Since 2008, this program has helped many clinics raise their childhood, adolescent and adult immunization rates through an innovative, evidence-based recall system, providing outreach to individuals who are overdue for important vaccines. The project often has a dramatic effect on a clinic’s immunization rates, raising them by 50 percentage points or more. Thousands of people are now better protected against dangerous diseases, making our community a healthier place to work and live.
Student interns are a special part of the Immunization Champions program. Houston Community College’s Coleman College for Health Sciences provides their best and brightest students, who are then placed in clinics and mentored by The Immunization Partnership staff, which includes advanced immunization training. The students learn how to implement the recall system and a permanent clinic staff member is cross-trained to ensure that the project continues after the conclusion of the internship. Along the way, clinics and students learn more about immunization best practices through an ongoing relationship with The Immunization Partnership.
The program is called Immunization Champions because of the passion and dedication that is fostered in both the student interns and the clinic staff. In addition to improving immunization rates in the short-term, the project encourages long-term systemic change which ensures that future generations of children will be protected against vaccine-preventable-diseases for many years to come.
Patricia Branham, an HCC graduate in Health Information Technology, was an enthusiastic participant in the Immunization Champions project and reflected on why she felt it was so important.
“I felt that it was my responsibility to be as educated as I could about immunizations and to do my best to get all of the children at my clinic up to date on their vaccinations,” said Patricia. “I developed special relationships with the children and taught the parents how important it was that they were all vaccinated.”
Supported generously by St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities and other local foundations, the project is now in its fourth year and has a bright future. With the changing landscape of health care reform and an increasing focus on prevention, the Immunization Champions program is poised to make an enormous impact by helping clinics improve their immunization rates for children, adolescents and adults.
TIP salutes Coleman College, St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities, the Immunization Champions clinics and all the student interns who have joined forces to protect our community from vaccine-preventable diseases. Join us on April 12th as we honor Coleman College for its contributions to this important project at our Community Immunity Luncheon.
Do you know of a clinic that would be a good candidate for the Immunization Champions Project? Please visit our website to learn more and to apply!