The Immunization Partnership
Rockwell Fund, Inc. (RFI) invests in organizations engaged in advocacy efforts that advance public health and prevention in Harris County. One of these investments is The Immunization Partnership (TIP).
Recent world events have brought public health to the forefront. COVID-19, an infectious disease, has prompted a response unlike anything seen in modern history. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience a moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying health conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop a serious illness. Lacking a current vaccine, government officials have directed us to practice social distancing while closing our schools, churches, and nonessential businesses and discouraging gatherings of more than a few at a time.
Immunization is a proven tool for controlling and eliminating life-threatening infectious diseases such as COVID-19. Immunizations work by triggering an immune response similar to the one that occurs when one is exposed to a disease naturally. The World Health Organization estimates that immunizations eliminate between 2-3 million deaths each year. Immunizations are one of the most cost-effective and long-lasting health prevention methods available; however, more people today than ever before are choosing to forego vaccinations because of fear and misinformation, which have led too many parents to opt out of the vaccinations school children are supposed to have.
In 2019, the state of Texas experienced a resurgence of measles, a highly contagious vaccine preventable disease that was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000. The measles revival of 2019 was due, in part, to anti-vaccine messaging, spread largely on social media. The revival of measles increases risk for Texans.
School immunization requirements have played a major role in controlling vaccine preventable diseases such as measles. In addition to the measles endemic, the number of school aged children in Texas filing for non-medical exemptions to vaccine laws rose 2,700% from 2003, the year the Texas legislature expanded the non-medical exemption law. Non-medical exemptions allow for children to be exempt from vaccines for personal or religious beliefs and minimizes the effects of herd immunity. According to President and CEO of The Immunization Partnership Allison Winnike,
Herd immunity occurs when a large majority of the population are immunized against a disease, creating a protective community immunity barrier to stop the introduction and spread of disease. Areas with low herd immunity are more vulnerable to outbreaks; the un-immunized and under-immunized may suffer more severe reactions from vaccine-preventable diseases, including people with pre-existing medical conditions.
TIP’s vision is to create a community free of vaccine preventable disease. To achieve this goal, high immunization rates must be attained and sustained. TIP pursues this vision through three areas of focus: educating the community, advocating for evidence-based public policy and supporting immunization best practices. During the 86th legislative session, TIP successfully helped pass legislation to improve education to first responders and access to immunization records. TIP also prevented anti-vaccine legislation from moving forward by testifying in front of committees and mobilizing pro-vaccine advocates.
Highlights of TIP’s outreach are:
- Advocating for 21 state laws that support immunizations
- Leading 5 statewide immunization conferences
- Reaching over 14 immunization coalitions across the state
- Making 180 presentations to nursing students across Texas
- Coordinating over 1,000 visits to the Texas Capitol
- Reaching over 8,500 healthcare providers and stakeholders through educational webinars and presentations
TIP’s programs work to protect millions of Texans. RFI is proud to support The Immunization Partnership and ensure that Houston children and families are healthy and protected from vaccine preventable diseases.
770 S. POST OAK LANE, SUITE 525, HOUSTON, TX 77056