Childhood Immunization Initiative
Immunizations are critical to a healthy community. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rates for vaccine-preventable disease in the United States have dropped by 99 percent since vaccines were introduced in the early 20th century.
Yet today, nearly a third of children in Washington state miss one or more recommended vaccinations. Health care providers, parents, teachers, and children's health advocates now fear that declining immunization rates have put our children and our communities at risk — from diseases that, not long ago, had been practically stamped out.
Since 2009, donors to the Group Health Foundation have made the Childhood Immunization Initiative a reality, immunizing kids across the state and raising awareness among parents about the importance of vaccinating our kids and communities.
Increasing Access to Vaccines
Most children get vaccinated during routine checkups with their family doctors. But children without a regular health care provider may miss annual checkups — and therefore miss out on their vaccinations. Group Health has teamed with local health departments and school districts in Pierce, King, and Spokane counties to provide free vaccine clinics — vaccinating nearly 17,000 children with over 33,000 vaccines.
Preventing Cancers Caused by HPV
Human papilloma virus, or HPV, causes nearly 27,000 cases of cancer every year in both men and women. More than 6,000 people are likely to die this year of HPV-related cancers in the U.S. That's 17 people every day. And virtually all of these deaths are preventable.
Group Health Foundation is committed to preventing HPV-related cancers in the future by increasing awareness around the need for immunization. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that both boys and girls be vaccinated for HPV at age 11 or 12. Currently, a series of three shots is required for full protection against HPV. We're working in Group Health clinics and in our communities to raise awareness of the need for these important, cancer-preventing immunizations.
Partnerships With Public Health
Local health departments work every day to keep our communities healthy and safe. The Foundation helps health departments in Thurston and Spokane counties develop community-based strategies to increase childhood immunization rates, including school and child center immunization records review (to identify those lacking vaccinations), direct outreach to parents, and health promotion campaigns.