Pediatrician takes RV on the road to deliver vaccinations to children

posted 7/17/2017 in News

Childhood vaccination rates are less than desirable in Black Hawk County and in the state of Iowa as a whole. One pediatrician identified the need and found a solution. Dr. Daniel Wright, a Covenant Clinic pediatrician, wants to do more to increase vaccination rates in the area, and more importantly, wants to prevent cancer from occurring.

That's why Dr. Wright organized a mobile vaccine unit to help increase protection against cancer for Iowa children. The project is a culmination of planning from a group of representatives from Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare - Iowa (Wheaton Iowa), including Covenant Clinic and Covenant Cancer Treatment Center, along with the Black Hawk County Health Department, Waterloo Community Schools, and vaccine producer Merck.

The mobile unit, a fleet RV owned by Wheaton Iowa, will travel throughout the community to offer childhood vaccinations to proactively protect our community from preventable cancers including the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Tdap, and Meningococcal vaccine. "We are simply not meeting an acceptable vaccination rate to protect our community," says Dr. Wright. "We understand the challenges and pressures parents are under today, so we're taking immunizations out to the people!"

This project is designed to address demands identified in a Community Health Needs Assessment conducted in 2015 by area hospitals and the Black Hawk County Health Department. Cancer is identified as a major concern among residents of Black Hawk County, and is the second leading cause of death in both the county and state.

HPV alone is a group of more than 150 related viruses that can cause cancer. According to Merck, 14 million people are newly infected each year and 50 percent of new infections occur in people 15-24 years of age. The vaccine is recommended for preteen boys and girls at age 11 or 12 to protect them before ever being exposed to the virus.

"Vaccination not only protects our children from preventable diseases, but also ensures we, as a community, give our children the best opportunity for a healthy and successful life," says Dr. Nafissa Egbuonye, director of the health department.

The mobile unit will be present August 7 and 8 during the Waterloo Community Schools registration events at the Waterloo Center for the Arts from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. both days. Immunizations will be provided through the Vaccines for Children Program, a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children who might not otherwise be vaccinated due to cost. The mobile unit also plans additional Waterloo locations in the coming months.
 
"We are always looking for opportunities to streamline our processes. This is an excellent partnership to assist our families with meeting health recommendations, as well as new state requirements for vaccinations," says Cora Turner, Waterloo Schools Executive Director of Student & At-Risk Services.
 
For more information about this mobile vaccine unit, contact Keyah Levy, Community Health Coordinator for Wheaton Iowa at 319.272.7681, or by email at Keyah.Levy@mercyhealth.com.