Utilizing an Immunization Task Force for the Implementation of School-Based Influenza Clinics
Background: Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available to prevent disease and death. As of 2008, the state of Indiana ranked 34th in the nation in its immunization rates and an estimated 22.5% of Indiana children were under immunized by age 3. Annual influenza vaccinations are of extreme importance as less than 30% of children aged 6-23 months and 16% of children 2-17 are vaccinated for influenza each year.
Setting: Urban Title 1 primary (k-4th grade) schools in Penn-Harris-Madison School district located in St. Joseph County Indiana. St. Joseph County has an estimated population of 266,860.
Population: Elementary students attending Title 1 primary centers in the Penn-Harris-Madison School district.
Project Description: In 2008, the St. Joseph County Health Department worked closely with school nurses and school administration to increase annual influenza vaccination rates in specified Title 1 primary schools. Utilizing the networks & support built through a regional immunization task force (4 counties), the health department implemented its first school-based immunization clinics.
Results/Lessons Learned: A total of 8 school clinics were implemented in 2008 with 12 clinics planned for 2009. The utilization of the clinics vaccinated 2,300 elementary students for seasonal influenza. The immunization task force has seen an increase in the number of school nurses in attendance at monthly meetings resulting in additional school districts using St. Joseph County’s planning guide to implement school-based clinics in their area. Therefore, we estimate to see an increase in vaccination rates regionally. Having implemented school-based clinics prior to H1N1, task force members had the guidance in implementing mass schools-clinics for H1N1 as well as the support of school administrators and staff. These first clinics have also given guidance on adolescent school-based clinics which will be utilized in Spring 2010 when school entry requirements change for Fall 2010.