Regence Foundation awards $49,800 grant to health department to increase immunization rates

Idaho ranks 49th in nation for immunizing children against preventable diseases

BOISE – The Regence Foundation recently awarded $49,800 to Central District Health Department in Boise to increase childhood vaccination rates in Ada County. Currently, Idaho ranks 49th in the nation (tied for last place with Nevada) for immunizing children against preventable diseases. Only 54 percent of children in Idaho are fully vaccinated. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Healthy People 2010 target is 90 percent.
 
“Our goal is to help build healthier communities by supporting nonprofits already tackling challenging local health care issues,” said Michael Alexander, Regence Foundation board chair. “The Central District Health Department has an excellent track record in implementing large-scale public health programs, and we are confident their work will help move the needle on childhood vaccination rates in Ada County.”
 
According to a series of surveys conducted by Boise State University’s nursing department, many health care providers need additional educational support to comply with national vaccine guidelines. The researchers believe Idaho’s low immunization rates could be improved through additional provider education about best practices for safe vaccine administration. 
 
The health department will use The Regence Foundation grant to form an Immunization Education Outreach Team to provide training to the 20 medical clinics in Ada County with the lowest rates of childhood immunization. The team will include a community physician and health department nurse who will provide peer education to their counterparts at the selected clinics. Research indicates that improving health care provider education is an effective strategy to improve immunization rates.
 
“Getting vaccinated is one of the simplest ways we can keep our children healthy and protect our community from preventable diseases,” said Teresa Collins, RN, Central District Health Department Immunizations Program Manager. “It’s critical the Idaho health care community prioritize childhood vaccinations and follow CDC recommendations to maximize safety and minimize risk.”
 
The Immunization Education Outreach Team will visit each of the twenty clinics twice within a 12 month period for initial training and follow-up. All providers participating in the program will complete a survey before receiving training and again after 6, 12 and 18 months to assess changes in immunization knowledge and practices, including compliance with Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations.
 
If successful, the health department plans to expand this program to reach other clinics throughout the health district: Valley, Elmore and Boise Counties, as well as other parts of Ada County.
 
About The Regence Foundation
The Regence Foundation is the corporate foundation of Regence, the largest health insurer in the Northwest/Intermountain region and a nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. A 501(c)3 grantmaking organization, the Foundation partners with organizations driving significant change in health care delivery and accessibility in Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Through its Sojourns program, the Foundation also supports organizations advancing quality palliative and end-of-life care. For more information visit www.RegenceFoundation.org or www.twitter.com/RegenceGives.