In October 1996, the Yakima
Immunization Action Coalition with the Yakima Health District and a group of
local organizations, coordinated a pilot project: an in-school hepatitis B
immunization clinic for adolescents in Yakima County. The clinic was so well
received that we expanded to most of the schools in Yakima County. This was a
community effort which included volunteers from the public, sponsors from local
businesses, school administrators, school nurses, EMTs, local physicians, and
funding from the State of Washington and pharmaceutical companies. We
successfully immunized 12,000 adolescents who received all three doses. We did
not have one incident, accident, or altercation.
We extended our outreach to the
population incarcerated in juvenile detention. These children range from 9-17
years of age. They are not usually in the public school setting. Many have
dropped out of school or are attending alternative school.
In October 1996, we contracted to have
classes with the juveniles in detention and talk about risk factors and
prevention. After spending time with this group of children, it was apparent
that they would greatly benefit from hepatitis B immunization. Their crimes
ranged from simple truancy to car theft, burglary, shoplifting, assault, weapon
use, drug trafficking and drug use, and alcohol abuse. Having unprotected sex
with multiple partners is a problem, as is pregnancy.
In July 1997, we began providing
hepatitis B immunization to this group. Hepatitis A and adult Td vaccines have
recently been added. Hepatitis A immunization was added because Yakima County is
one of the top 13 counties in the state for hepatitis A morbidity. To date, over
1,300 children in juvenile detention have been immunized.
This project continues to be a
community effort. The program involves Planned Parenthood, as their staff do
in-house STD exams and treatment, pregnancy testing, and HIV testing and
counseling. The administrators of the juvenile detention facility have provided
support and security. Providence Health Communities Alliance provides all the
vaccine supplies as well as nursing time. "Tree Top," a local
business, supplies apple juice for the kids getting immunizations. Yakima County
Health District provides weekly education classes addressing risk factors and
prevention for hepatitis A,B,C,D; AIDS; and STDs. The Yakima County Health
District is available to assist and support all our other agencies and partners.
We are sure that with ambition and the
real passion to help troubled youth, any locale could duplicate these successes.
The secret to success is to gather all your unlimited resources and lead the
pack. The secret to success is coordination of local resources and the
involvement of partners in the community to address problems with a coordinated,