AUTHOR: MARRER

AGGRESSIVE IMMUNIZATION PROGRAM KICKS OFF OCT. 4

One of the most exciting aspects of health care today is developing new partnerships that will have an impact on the overall health status of the people in the region. A perfect example of these partnerships is the collaborative efforts of the Tupelo Rotary Club, the District II Office of the Mississippi Board of Health and the North Mississippi Medical Center-Women's Hospital to increase the percentage of babies immunized on time.

Our goal is to bring compliance rates for immunizations in Lee County for children under age two from its current rate from 76 percent to 90 percent in one year. The emphasis of this program will be to encourage mothers to immunize their babies on time.

The program, which has been described as the most aggressive hospital-based immunization program in the state, will kick off in October. The immunication program will begin Oct. 4, with a special kick off at the Women's Hospital, 600 West Eason Boulevard, Tupelo. Representatives from the three groups will work together from 5 to 7 p.m. that evening to provide parents with easy access to immunizations.

Traditionally, Friday is a popular day for immunizations because mothers have that evening and the rest of the weekend to monitor their children's reactions to the shots. The evening hours were selected to make the service more accessible to working parents. All of the shots will be given by representatives from the health department, and the free immunizations that evening are for all infants and children in this area who are not up to date on their shots. As an added incentive, participants will be eligible to win door prizes.

Following this event, the mothers of all babies born at North Mississippi Medical Center, Women's Hospital will receive information on immunization schedules, locations to receive shots and the cost of the shots. In addition, each infant will receive three free gifts. The Tupelo Rotary Club will provide each infant a free health record diary to document the child's health history throughout life, and each newborn will receive a bib and growth chart donated by the District II Office.

Beginning in October, each infant born at the Women's Hospital will receive a reminder notice two weeks prior to appropriate immunization dates. The program is designed to complement the reminder card system that is currently used by the District II office. Parents who fail to obtain immunizations for their children will be contacted by phone or visited personally by a representative of the District II office.

For more information on the new immunization program, call the District II Office at 841-9015 or NMMC at 1-800-THE DESK (1-800-843-3375).

Donna Marrero is a vice president with North Mississippi Health Services and administrator of the North Mississippi Medical Center Women's Hospital.

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