National Immunization Awareness Month: Local Health Departments Celebrate and Promote Vaccination

Claude JacobBy Claude-Alix Jacob, MPH, NACCHO President and Chief Public Health Officer for the Cambridge (MA) Public Health Department

Vaccines are one of the most important achievements in public health and have prevented wide-scale illness and death since their conception. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that vaccinations will prevent more than 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths among children born between 1994 and 2013.1

Despite their incredible ability to prevent the spread of harmful diseases, gaps in vaccination coverage persist. In 2014, a record-breaking 667 cases of measles were reported nationally, the largest number of cases since measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000. In my own backyard, Harvard University recently experienced an outbreak of mumps that affected over 50 students, faculty, and staff. My health department worked collaboratively with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Harvard University Health Services to facilitate diagnosis and laboratory testing, disseminate public health messaging, and conduct contact tracing investigations.

National Immunization Awareness Month
August is National Immunization Awareness Month, an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of immunization in the pursuit of closing existing coverage gaps. The month is sponsored by the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC), which has developed a toolkit featuring sample messages and campaign materials to increase vaccination rates for infants, children, teens, pregnant women, and adults; each week in August will focus on a different age group and corresponding message:

  • 1–7: Vaccines are not just for kids (adults)
  • 8–14: Protect yourself and pass protection on to your baby (pregnant women)
  • 15–21: A healthy start begins with on-time vaccination (babies and young children)
  • 22–28: Ensure a healthy future with vaccines (preteens and teens)

Local Health Department Innovation
Local health departments continually employ innovative strategies to meet the vaccination challenges in their communities, as demonstrated by several of NACCHO’s Model Practices Program awardees in recent years. The Florida Department of Health in Broward County used a point-of-dispensing (POD) model recommended by the Guide to Community Preventive Services to accommodate the surge of children in need of back-to-school immunizations. By implementing an electronic tracking system in POD stations, the department was able to increase the rate of immunizations by 38%.

In 2014, in response to concern about clusterings of unvaccinated children in schools and daycares in its communities, the Multnomah County (OR) Health Department developed a cooperative measles response protocol for public health agencies to use in the event of a school or daycare measles outbreak. The department created a toolkit and conducted tabletop exercises with its partners to ensure an effective and efficient response in the event of an outbreak.

Snohomish Health District in Everett, WA, developed card sets and brochures comparing the benefits and risks of vaccines to help healthcare provider educate parents who are hesitant about vaccinating their children. The cards helped health providers and clinicians address parent concerns about vaccine safety.

NACCHO Support for Local Health Department Immunization Efforts
NACCHO has developed a variety of tools and resources to help local health departments promote immunization in their communities. NACCHO’s human papillomavirus (HPV) project is one such example. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States and is responsible for nearly 26,000 new cases of cancer each year. HPV infections are responsible for the majority of cervical cancer and have been increasingly linked to several other cancers.2,3 The combined cost of HPV-associated cancers and other conditions is estimated to be $8 billion per year in the United States.4

Despite the widespread availability of a highly effective vaccine, coverage rates for the HPV vaccine remain low. In 2014, with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NACCHO awarded funding to 10 local health departments in states with the lowest HPV vaccination rates to participate in an action planning process and receive technical assistance to increase HPV vaccination rates in their communities. NACCHO designed an action planning process that engaged local health departments to conduct an environmental scan of their community resources, identify key community stakeholders, and participate in an action planning meeting facilitated by NACCHO staff. These local health departments worked with state immunization programs, cancer and immunization coalitions, private medical providers, pharmacies, schools, and faith-based organizations to develop strategic focus areas to guide the implementation of their initiative. NACCHO has funded a second cohort of 10 local health departments and will continue to share key themes and lessons learned with other local health departments.

NACCHO is also committed to helping local health departments build capacity to bill third-party payers for vaccinations and other clinical services. NACCHO created a toolkit with resources, templates, and tools for local health departments to use. More than 200 resources have currently been collected from state billing guides, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, state health departments, local health departments, insurance companies, and vendors of products such as electronic medical records and billing clearinghouses.

National Immunization Awareness Month is an opportune time to reflect on local health departments’ successes in promoting immunization and assess how we can strengthen its protection of population health in the future. For more information about NACCHO’s immunization program, visit To learn more about National Immunization Awareness Month and download the toolkit of resources, visit More resources can be found below.

NACCHO Policy Statements


  1. Benefits from Immunization during the Vaccines for Children Program Era — United States, 1994-2013,MMWR)
  2. International Agency for Research on Cancer. (2007). Monographs on the evaluation of carcinogenic risks to humans. Volume 90: human papillomaviruses. Lyon, France: World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer.
  3. Gillison, M.L., Alemany, L., Snijders, P.J., Chaturvedi, A., Steinberg, B.M., Schwartz, S., et al. (2012). Human papillomavirus and diseases of the upper airway: Head and neck cancer and respiratory papillomatosis. Vaccine, 30(5 Suppl.), F34-54.
  4. Chesson, H.W., Ekwueme, D.U., Saraiya, M., Watson, M., Lowy, E.R., & Markowitz, L.E. (2012). Estimates of the annual medical costs of the prevention and treatment of disease associated with human papillomaviruses in the United States. Vaccine, 30(42), 6016-9.

2016 Maurice “Mo” Mullet Lifetime of Service Award Recipient Patrick Libbey Reflects on His Career Path into Public Health and Shares Advice on Starting a Career in LHDs

Maurice "Mo" Mullet Lifetime of Service Award Recipient Patrick Libbey

Maurice “Mo” Mullet Lifetime of Service Award Recipient Patrick Libbey

By Taylarr Lopez, Communications Specialist, NACCHO

NACCHO is pleased to recognize Patrick M. Libbey as the recipient of the 2016 Maurice “Mo” Mullet Lifetime of Service Award. This award honors current or former local health officials for noteworthy service to NACCHO that has reflected the commitment, vigor, and leadership exemplified by Mo’s distinguished career. Throughout Libbey’s more than 35 years in public health, he has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to advocating for and strengthening the work of local health departments (LHDs). He has also served NACCHO in a number of important capacities, amplifying the voice of local health departments at the national and federal levels.

Libbey served as NACCHO’s executive director from 2002 to 2008. During his tenure, NACCHO was increasingly recognized and engaged by a range of federal agencies and national organizations as a critical resource and partner, ensuring the perspective of local public health was considered in policy and program implementation and development. Libbey initiated the NACCHO Operational Definition, the organization’s effort to create a uniform, nationally shared definition and standards for a functional local health department. The Definition gained national recognition and acceptance and served as a key base for the emerging national voluntary public health accreditation effort. He served as NACCHO President in 2001–2002. He was a member of the NACCHO Board of Directors from 1992 to 2002; a member of the Executive Committee from 1994 to 2002; chair of the Education Committee; and chair of the County Forum. Continue reading

Incoming NACCHO President Claude-Alix Jacob Shares His Priorities for Local Health Departments and Explains Why a Career in Local Public Health is One of the Best-Kept Secrets

Claude JacobOn July 1, Claude-Alix Jacob, MPH, Chief Public Health Officer for the Cambridge (MA) Public Health Department, became NACCHO’s President. Jacob is a long-standing and dedicated member of NACCHO and has served on a variety of different advisory groups including the Annual Conference Workgroup, the Health Equity and Social Justice Committee, the Survive and Thrive Workgroup, and the Finance Committee. He has served on NACCHO’s Board of Directors since 2010. He recently spoke to NACCHO Voice about his career path, the challenges his health department is currently facing, the priorities for his Presidency, and his advice for those just starting their careers in local public health.

  • Tell us about your career path in public health and how you got to where you are today.

I am the local health officer here in Cambridge, MA, and have served in this capacity since April 2007. We are a medium-sized local health department with a jurisdiction of about 110,000 residents. The geography of Cambridge is very small—it’s only six and a half square miles. By scale, we’re the second largest health department in Massachusetts. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has the most decentralized public health system in the nation, with over 300 local health departments covering a population of 6.6 million residents.

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NACCHO Annual 2016: Cultivating a Culture of Health Equity

By Lindsay Tiffany, Lead of Publications, NACCHO


From left: Mr. Sims, Dr. Ehlinger, Dr. Jones, and Dr. Hofrichter

On July 19–21, more than 1,300 attendees convened in Phoenix for the 2016 NACCHO Annual Conference, making it the largest gathering of local health department (LHD) leaders and other public health professionals in the United States. The meeting provided participants with an opportunity to hear from national thought leaders, learn about successful and replicable public health practices from their peers, and discuss the pressing challenges affecting LHDs today.

This year’s conference theme, Cultivating a Culture of Health Equity, provided a venue for in-depth conversations about how local health practitioners can impact the social determinants of health equity to achieve health and well-being for all members of their communities. Continue reading

Data into Action: Getting Your Data off the Shelf and into the Community

logo_na2016_pms274This is the third in a series of NACCHO Annual preview posts, which feature interviews with and essays from presenters in advance of NACCHO Annual 2016. This post offers a preview of the session, “Data to Action: Getting Your Data off the Shelf and into the Community.” Read the other posts in the series. Learn more about NACCHO Annual 2016 and register at

In 2013, the Eau Claire City-County (WI) Health Department, Mayo Clinic Health System, Sacred Heart Hospital, Marshfield Clinic, and United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley launched the Eau Claire Healthy Communities website, which serves as a one-stop-shop for all health data in the county and features other health resources and materials. With the assistance of the Medical College of Wisconsin, the group behind this health data portal received a two-year, $200,000 grant from the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Healthy Wisconsin Partnership Program to research how to use the website to turn data into action. The partners that helped with the launch of the website have an agreement to partner on payment for the site and control of the information on the site. Eau Claire City-County Health Department Director Lieske Giese and Medical College of Wisconsin Public Health Program Director Terry Brandenburg spoke to NACCHO Voice about the resulting toolkit they have developed to “really get that data active and working, not just sitting in a bound report in the health department.”

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NACCHO Annual Preview: Targeting Neighborhood Poverty, Education, and Health Burden through Policy and Prevention

logo_na2016_pms274This is the second in a series of NACCHO Annual preview posts, which feature interviews with and essays from presenters in advance of NACCHO Annual 2016. In this post, Gary Cox, JD, shares insights from his session, “Targeting Neighborhood Poverty, Education, and Health Burden through Local Public Health Policy and Prevention across Oklahoma County.” Cox brings more than 35 years of public health experience and leadership skills to his role as executive director of the Oklahoma City-County Health Department. He is a past president of both NACCHO and the Oklahoma Public Health Association. Below Cox shares his advice for LHDs pursuing health equity and his experience forging partnerships with local entities committed to improving community health.

NACCHO: You open your presentation with the idea that health outcomes are influenced by complex social and physical indicators. How do you address this reality in your health department’s pursuit of a culture of health equity?

Gary Cox: We have a basic philosophy as a local health department that we should analyze data and look at where we have inequities and disparities in our community. We have what we call a wellness score: It is about 22 data points, ranging from educational attainment and graduation rates to crime rates, mortality/morbidity rates, hospital room visits, hospital discharge data, and so on. It comes from a very wide variety of sources gathered together to create a cumulative comparative index, zip code by zip code, of our county.

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A Historic Event for the Public Health – FDA Regulation of E-Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products

By LaMar Hasbrouck, MD, MPH, Executive Director, NACCHO

We are never short of hyperbole here in the nation’s capital. Even run-of-the-mill decisions by the powers that be are hailed as breakthroughs. Perhaps we are so accustomed to political log jams in this city we’re stunned when anything is accomplished. However, on May 6, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a ruling that is truly historic.

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