Congratulations to Washington’s Immunization Award Winners!
Every other year, the Immunization Action Coalition of Washington (IACW) recognizes people and organizations in our state that are truly going above and beyond to protect our communities from vaccine-preventable diseases. This year, we presented the awards at a special coalition meeting on April 20, during National Infant Immunization Week.
The 2016 IACW Collaborator award goes to the Auburn School District School Nurses, represented by Jan Schneider, Jill Olson, and Tami Petrina. Together with the district’s health technicians, they reduced the number of students in their district who were out of compliance (meaning their immunization paperwork wasn’t submitted properly) by two-thirds, from 852 to 295. These numbers represent countless hours spent researching immunization records and contacting students, parents, guardians, and health care providers. In one example of how far-reaching this work can be, when one student visited their health care provider to catch up on their immunizations, they also received a much needed eye exam and glasses. Thank you, Jan, Jill, Tami, and your colleagues for your hard work to ensure that Auburn’s students are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Our 2016 IACW Advocate is Becky Doughty, Health Services Coordinator of Spokane Public Schools. She has worked diligently to coordinate, review, and update immunization records for each student in her district – a total of 35,000! Working closely with school staff, Becky achieved a decrease in kindergarten out of compliance rates from 24.6% to 0.9%. Additionally, she supported the development of pop-up clinics to provide immunizations to students in schools. In addition to her work in schools, Becky is founder and director of the Inland Northwest Transitional Respite Program, which provides shelter-based respite care to men and women experiencing homelessness. Typically, medical respite care involves acute and post-acute care for those too ill to recover on the streets, but Becky has ensured that preventive measures, including vaccines, also reach this very vulnerable population. She also implemented a program to ensure that all staff at the Respite Program are fully up to date with hepatitis B and influenza vaccines.
Finally, we partnered with the Washington State Department of Health to recognize Dr. John Dunn as the 2016 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion for Washington. Whether it’s appearing on local news segments, answering colleagues’ questions about vaccines, providing care to patients and their families, or serving on numerous local boards that make decisions about vaccines in the state of Washington, Dr. Dunn steps up to support vaccines. He serves on the Washington Vaccine Association, the Vaccine Advisory Committee, and the Vax Northwest Oversight Committee. He also chairs the Immunization Program at Group Health. In these positions, he ensures that policies and practices are in place to keep state immunization levels high. Through his research work at Vax Northwest, Dr. Dunn continues to learn about vaccine hesitancy and apply his findings to his everyday interactions with children and their families.
The work that Jan, Jill, Tami, Becky, and John do every day touches each of us – when we go about our daily lives in a Washington State that is safe from the diseases that vaccines prevent. Personally, I’m grateful for the opportunity we have at WithinReach to collaborate with, support, and recognize such fabulous partners!
Top Ten Ways to Be A Positive Voice For Vaccines!
3. Get up to date on your own vaccines. Check if you are up to date in MyIR. Haven’t used MyIR yet? Sign up by visiting the Washington State Department of Health’s website and choose Option 1. Once you are in the system, you can print off your recommended immunizations and bring them to your healthcare provider or pharmacist. While you’re at it, check to make sure your kids and your family members are up to date as well.
4. Share your immunization story. Why are you passionate about vaccines? Whether you’ve personally experienced a vaccine preventable disease, or someone you love has been impacted, sharing your story with us to use on our website and social media is a powerful way to be an advocate. Contact us at email@example.com.
6. Advocate for immunizations to friends and family. Vaccines aren’t a “taboo” topic – they’re an important part of preventive health. Have the courage to ask family members if they’re up to date on their vaccines, if they got their annual flu vaccine, or if they’re planning to immunize their newborn. And remember, most people fully vaccinate on time. Here’s a great article on how to approach the subject using the HEART method for talking about immunization with friends.
7. Become a member of the Immunization Action Coalition of Washington (IACW). The IACW meets quarterly to learn about and collaborate on a variety of immunization topics. Recent topics have included: HPV prevention, vaccine hesitancy, and global health initiatives. Additionally, there is a monthly newsletter with hot topics, resources, and news articles to keep you up-to-date! To learn more and become a member, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
8. Take action. Your help in promoting vaccines in Washington State will help keep our community healthy and decrease the transmission of vaccine-preventable diseases. Sign up for our Immunization Action Alert to be notified when you can lend your voice to advocating for immunizations in Washington.
9. Write a letter to the editor. Let your pro-vaccine stance be known to your community and elected officials. Contact us if you need help with any ideas or templates.
10. Thank an Immunizer. Next time you are at your healthcare provider’s office or the pharmacy, thank an immunizer. These are the people that protect health by vaccinating, and people often forget to thank someone holding a needle!
Recognizing Our Immunization Partners
First, the IACW Advocate Award is given to an individual active in the IACW who has given tremendous amounts of time and been successful in enhancing statewide immunization efforts. There were many inspiring and inspired nominees this year, but our team of reviewers selected Celina Yarkin, a tireless immunization advocate living on Vashon Island. We admire Celina for her willingness to have courageous conversations about immunization, especially in a community where there are many vaccine hesitant individuals and where she has faced some harsh rebukes for her position on vaccines. Celina’s work has been featured in books, documentaries, and various media outlets—and we thank her for being such a credible, passionate, and consistent advocate of vaccines as a means to protect the health of our community. As her nominator, Rebecca Dubin at Seattle-King County Public Health wrote, Celina’s voice “has encouraged others to reconsider what they believe about vaccines, and to add their voices in favor of immunization.” Thank you, Celina!
Second, the IACW Collaborator award is given to an organization active in the IACW that has impacted their community through collaboration to help promote, educate, and increase immunization rates. Among the many nominees, our team selected Tieton Village Drug, led by Nancy Hecox, PharmD, in Yakima, WA in recognition of their exceptional work to get free vaccines to adults in the Yakima area. Collaborating with many partners, Tieton Village Drug created a unique program to allow pharmacy access to free vaccines for the uninsured and underinsured.” We are deeply impressed with the commitment demonstrated by Tieton Village Drug, which has administered thousands of doses of vaccine since this program’s inception three years ago, including more than 6,000 doses of Tdap. Thank you, Nancy, and the Tieton Village Drug team for your incredible work to protect our community.
Achieving better health outcomes requires collaboration and concerted effort from a broad group of stakeholders. The winners of these awards maximize the potential for residents of our state to be healthy and free from vaccine preventable disease, and we thank them for their support of the efforts of the IACW.