The vision of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Immunization Program (Program) is a Texas free of vaccine-preventable diseases. The mission of the Texas DSHS Immunization Program is to remove barriers to complete and timely vaccination, increase vaccine coverage levels, and reduce the burden of vaccine-preventable diseases for all Texas infants, children, adolescents, and adults.
The Program seeks to prevent, reduce and ultimately eliminate vaccine-preventable diseases with an emphasis on improving immunization coverage among our youngest citizens, children under three years of age. Major activities are organized around essential functions, such as assessing immunization coverage; disease surveillance and outbreak response; educating healthcare professionals; providing needed information to parents, schools and the public; reducing barriers to vaccine access through the Texas Vaccines for Children Program; assuring adequate vaccine supply; monitoring and supporting providers to ensure proper vaccine handling and accounting; and operating ImmTrac2, the statewide immunization registry.
The Program also seeks to promote adolescent and adult vaccinations. Adolescent immunization rates on HPV, Tdap, and MCV are communicated to sites enrolled in the TVFC Program during site reviews. Education on activities to incorporate at the site to raise adolescent rates, such as reminder/recall and simultaneous administration is provided to staff during the review. In addition, DSHS communicates the Tdap/HPV ratio (1Tdap:2HPV) to all enrolled sites twice annually. This communication contains information on activities to incorporate to raise adolescent rates. The Program educates providers on the ACIP requirements and immunizations standards for adolescents and adults.
In addition, DSHS operates an Adult Safety Net (ASN) program that offers most ACIP-recommended vaccines to uninsured adults in Federally Qualified Health Centers, Rural Health Clinics, DSHS and Local Health Department clinics. In addition, other sites that participate in the ASN program include HIV/STD clinics and drug treatment facilities. Annually, DSHS staff conduct a site review at facilities that are enrolled only in ASN to review storage and handling practices, eligibility practices and all other policies and procedures required of the program.
Immunization service delivery in Texas is complicated by a number of factors. Texas shares a large international border with Mexico, and many health problems faced by Mexico must be addressed in the adjacent areas. The Program must meet the needs of both large, urban centers and sparsely-populated rural areas. The division of Texas into 254 counties under local jurisdiction makes standardization difficult.
No single intervention strategy alone is successful in increasing immunization coverage levels. A combination of best practices, implemented consistently, can help to raise immunization levels. The Program has identified and promotes the following best practices: reminder and recall systems, the medical home, registries and robust education for both providers and the public. Partnerships are an important tool in putting these best practices into action. Raising immunization levels is a collaborative effort that benefits from the commitment of other programs and agencies such as Texas Health and Human Services; and the Texas Education Agency, as well as private sector partners such as the Texas Medical Association, Texas Pediatric Society, and the Texas Pharmacy Association. The Program will continue to work with partners to reach out to their constituencies and enhance their immunization efforts.
Funding of this application will make it possible for the Program to continue support of immunization activities on a statewide basis.