Childhood vaccination rates are less than desirable in Black Hawk County and in the state of Iowa as a whole. In Waterloo, Covenant Clinic pediatrician Dr. Daniel Wright identified the need and found a solution to increase vaccination rates in the area, and more importantly, wants to prevent cancer from occurring.
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, travels 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 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.
Wheaton Iowa’s first stop was late last summer during the Waterloo Community Schools registration events (watch this video to see the mobile vaccine unit and crew in action).
“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 and At-Risk Services.Share this story.