North Carolina project raises immunization rates by 26 percent

A recent pilot project conducted among 18 health centers in North Carolina raised adolescent immunization rates by 26 percent in one month, according to a new report.

The project was designed to increase the immunization rates among adolescents for the tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis vaccine, meningococcal conjugate vaccine and human papillomavirus vaccine, according to

In North Carolina, the average rate of immunization for the three vaccines was 73.8 percent, in comparison with the national average of 76 percent.

“Even at best, we are abysmal in North Carolina at giving the meningococcal conjugate vaccine,” Marti Wolf said during her presentation at the 45th Annual National Immunization Conference, according to

A total of 18 community health centers volunteered to compete during an event held in April 2010 - the state’s Adolescent Immunization Month. The total number of adolescents served by these centers numbered 7,971.

“The data shows that most anyone who tried did make an improvement,” Wolf said, reports.

Throughout the competition, the centers worked together and utilized a number of tools to target the adolescent population. AFIX sessions were provided by North Carolina Immunization Program. Recall tools, immunization toolkits and weekly email contact were also made available.

“One of the things we found is that people are using our registry for babies, but people were not thinking about it once the children were past two or three years old," Wolf said, according to "Nobody was using it much for the adolescents, and they are not using it at all for the adults. The lesson learned is that recall works. Letters to the parents work. They actually open them and read them.”

The project went well enough that it will be repeated in May 2011.