The following story was submitted to NACCHO’s Stories from the Field website. NACCHO’s Stories from the Field website provides a means for local health departments to share their experiences and demonstrate the value of public health. Stories from the Field can be used to support advocacy, peer learning, and collaboration with state and federal partners. Share your story at http://nacchostories.org.
Submitted by Christine Lees
Dakota County (MN) Public Health
Working with state and local partners, Dakota County Public Health Department vaccinated 120 students entering seventh through twelfth grade to comply with updated Minnesota school immunization laws. The clinic was organized utilizing the Incident Command System (ICS) and demonstrated emergency preparedness capabilities.
A recent change in the Minnesota School Immunization Law required all students entering seventh grade in school year 2014–2015 to show documentation of Tdap and meningococcal (MCV4) vaccinations. In addition, a school district could request proof of vaccination from students entering grades 8–12. However, as of June 1, 2014, only 44% of Dakota County students entering seventh grade had received the Tdap vaccine and a similar percentage had been vaccinated with MCV4.
Through a federal grant, the Minnesota Department of Health provided Tdap, MCV4, and HPV vaccine to local health departments for mass vaccination clinics to meet the new requirements. The vaccine could be offered free to all seventh through twelfth graders, regardless of insurance.
Dakota County Public Health Department took advantage of this opportunity to plan and organize the “Back2School” mass vaccination clinic. The clinic was promoted through a variety of communication channels including mass media, school electronic newsletters, and healthcare providers.
Seventy staff members participated, including staff from Disease Prevention and Control, Emergency Preparedness, Family Health, WIC, Health Promotion, and Administrative Support work units. Volunteer nurses from the local Medical Reserve Corps assisted in providing vaccines. Local police and sheriff departments helped plan for a safe environment and provided security.
The “Back2School” clinic was held prior to the start of school in the county government center. Parents could walk in with their teens any time during clinic hours with no appointment required.
ICS was used to organize clinic staff. Emergency Preparedness staff exercised several ICS operations including conducting command and general staff briefings and planning meetings, measuring the set-up time, and timing through-put at clinic stations.
One hundred twenty students received 240 vaccines needed to get them ready for school and up-to-date on their vaccines. In addition to receiving the required Tdap and MCV4 vaccines, 73% of the students received the HPV vaccine, which was not required for school but recommended for this age group.
The clinic was staffed for 200 participants with capacity to serve 300. Through-put timing averaged four minutes and 45 seconds to screen a student for needed vaccines and six minutes and 15 seconds to provide an average of two injections.
The Minnesota Immunization Information Connection, a statewide immunization registry, was used to verify needed immunizations, which was helpful since parents were often unable to recall if they had received prior doses of the required vaccines. There was significant media coverage of the clinic, heightening community awareness about changes in the school immunization requirements.
Dakota County Public Health Department staff documented critical aspects of clinic operations and completed an after-action report and improvement plan, demonstrating capabilities that met emergency preparedness grant requirements.
Collaboration between state, local, and volunteer community partners was necessary to successfully plan and staff for this large scale walk-in vaccination clinic. Staffing was adequate to meet the target of 200 students. Training staff from a variety of programs areas in the public health department is critical to expanding local public health capacity to set up and operate a mass vaccination clinic. This event was a vital opportunity for our county health department to provide a needed service to the community while also exercising our emergency preparedness response.
Read more stories from the field written by local health department staff at http://nacchostories.org.