Tuesday, March 18, 2008

AME Church-Based Influenza Vaccine Clinic for Underserved Population

Sharon D. Shepherd, Immunization Program, PA Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics, Rose Tree Corporate Center II, 1400 North Providence Road, Suite 3007, Media, PA, USA

Learning Objectives for this Presentation:
By the end of the presentation participants will know that a small community based influenza clinic can be successful.

In 1999, St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church partnered with the Main Line Health (MLH) Community Services Department at Paoli Hospital, Paoli, PA to develop a "Health & Wellness Program" for a low income congregation of approximately 100 and an underserved elderly population in a Borough of approximately 2,000 people.
The program's first activity was an influenza clinic. Participation has grown from 65 immunizations in 1999 to 102 in 2007. The Church organized the event and provided registration staff and refreshments.

1999-2004 Church basement
2005-2007 Borough Fire Hall

1999-2006 65
2007- 102
2008- 100+ projected

Project Description:
African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Churches are central in many African-American communities. Many congregants do not take advantage of influenza vaccine for a variety of reasons – difficulty getting to health care, skepticism of benefits, and a mistaken belief that influenza vaccine can cause influenza. To provide influenza vaccine to this population, a staff member of the PA Immunization Education Program has worked within her AME Church for 8 years to offer annual free influenza clinics. Church leadership “buy-in” and making the event social are essential components. The program reached beyond Church members to include Township employees and increasing numbers of the wider community. For 2007-2008, notice of the clinic was included in Township sewer bills! At this workshop the author will discuss successful educational efforts within the AME Church congregation to inform skeptical members and the collaboration with a local health care system's community outreach program to provide vaccine and staff.

Results/Lessons Learned:
Hospital based community Services Departments are a viable source of free vaccine for a low income, elderly and underserved population.
Free commmunity based preventive health programs can succeed to change attitudes and behavior.