Vaccine preventable disease rates are at all time lows due to diligent research, effective immunization systems, and outreach. This success has come from a collaboration of private and public sectors. Nonetheless, there are still barriers to optimizing immunization protection from vaccine preventable diseases. Prior to modern day immunizations, many diseases impacted countless numbers of children with disability and, unfortunately, mortality. In recent decades, there have been advances in vaccines broadening the protection net for children and adults. As vaccine preventable illnesses diminish, such as polio, measles, pertussis and even now haemophilus, pneumococcus, rotavirus and varicella, the public loses valuable memory of the devastation of these diseases. Yet outside of the United States one million deaths occur annually from measles alone. Complacency sets in from a lack of knowledge of natural diseases and fears of adverse events, including autism, further add to the barriers to protecting our children and adults. Idaho continues to struggle to obtain higher immunization coverage rates.
The Idaho Immunization Program, funded jointly by the State of Idaho and the Centers for Disease Control, has grown in the past decade improving our rates considerably. The Idaho Immunization Program hosted an Immunization Summit in the fall of 2007 inviting public and private health sectors to formulate the problems facing our State and potential solutions. The group discussed the successes of the Canyon Area Immunization Coalition and proposed a Statewide Coalition. Idaho is the only state in the Nation without a widespread or statewide Immunization Coalition.
This brings us to May of 2008. The AAP Idaho Chapter held an Immunization Congress, funded by a grant from AAP National. The congress succeeded in bringing public and private sectors together to launch what is now the Idaho Immunization Coalition. The coalition is a 501 c3 non profit organization to enhance the existing immunization system in Idaho. The goal is to protect adults and children from vaccine preventable disease in an efficient, safe and enlightened manner and to maintain the statewide immunization registry. The Coalition will have an Executive Committee with Keith Davis, MD, President of the Idaho Academy of Family Physicians and Tom Patterson, MD, President Elect of the Idaho American Academy of Pediatrics as co-chairmen. Subcommittees consisting of Education, Legislation and Vaccine Outreach will address specific issues. The state Immunization Program, the AAP, and AAFP Idaho Chapters are all on board to see the coalition to fruition. We have succeeded in many ways, though there is much work to be done to reach our goal of maximum immunization coverage in all populations.