Background: Parents look to pediatricians to serve as expert resources on a wide variety of topics, including immunizations. With ever increasing amounts of misinformation, controversy, and myths surrounding immunizations, healthcare providers are constantly overwhelmed by the need to sort through available information, both accurate/inaccurate, in order to educate their patient populations and communities at-large. With multiple demands on their time, providers are finding it increasingly difficult to develop the means to effectively serve as immunization experts and advocates for their patients and communities. In 2009, Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics (ICAAP) launched the Illinois Immunization Patient Advocacy Leadership (IIPAL) Initiative to create a network of pediatric immunization champions who can effectively address vaccine misinformation, hesitancy and refusal and champion for immunizations in their communities while improving immunization acceptance and rates in Illinois.
Setting: Public health settings including healthcare provider offices, hospitals, community and advocacy forums.
Population: 15 pediatricians with a minimum of 2 pediatricians in each of 7 regions in Illinois.
Project Description: Public health professionals will learn about the two main components of the IIPAL Initiative – formation of a network of 15 pediatrician “Immunization Champions” and development of an IIPAL Summit to launch the initiative. The summit provided resources and skills-development experiences related to approaching the latest immunization challenges and advocacy efforts. Attendees brainstormed ways to empower themselves and their communities to communicate empathetically and effectively about the importance of immunizations to help mitigate ongoing immunization challenges. Through the network, champions receive ongoing technical assistance via nationally renowned experts, resources, and training opportunities to develop leadership in the area of immunizations.
Results/Lessons Learned: Public health officials will become more aware of the goals and outcomes of the initiative and creation of a statewide collaboration of informed and articulate pediatrician immunization champions that can address concerns presented by parents/caregivers, legislators and others regarding ongoing immunization challenges.