DOVER, Del. – Today, U.S. Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons and U.S. Representative John Carney (all D-Del.) announced a $995,202 grant award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases to support the Delaware Division of Public Health's immunization program.
The program ensures providers have access to and administer all recommended vaccines, keeps providers up-to-date on relevant developments in the vaccine field and maintains their awareness of the epidemiology of vaccine preventable disease in Delaware and across the nation.
"Preventing disease is the best medicine; a great example is during this current, tough influenza season," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, Delaware Division of Public Health's director. "Public Health is so grateful for the federal funding and to the congressional delegation for their support for a healthier Delaware."
"Vaccines are among the 20th century's most successful and cost-effective public health tools for preventing disease and death. In fact, vaccines have helped save thousands of lives, protected millions of people from disease and saved billions of dollars," said Sen. Carper. "Staying on top of immunizations is one way we can get better health care outcomes for less money."
"Prevention is one of the best ways to help people stay healthy, save lives and reduce healthcare costs," Sen. Coons said. "This grant award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will give a shot in the arm to those in the state who are under-immunized or considered at-risk. Keeping our community healthy takes teamwork, and it's terrific to see so many in Delaware coming together to support the Delaware Division of Public Health's immunization program."
"Vaccines not only save lives, they reduce the nation's healthcare costs by preventing often debilitating and costly illnesses before they occur," said Congressman Carney. "The funding announced today will help Delawareans of all ages get immunized so they can continue living healthy, productive lives. I encourage all Delawareans to visit their doctor to receive the recommended vaccinations."
The program also contracts outreach activities that provide immunization services and education to under-immunized or at-risk populations. Collaboration with the Dept. of Education and the Office of Child Care Licensing allows the program to ensure high immunization rates for enrolled children. Collaboration with STD clinics, family planning clinics and HIV testing and counseling centers ensures populations at risk of Hepatitis B infection have access to the vaccine. The program also manages a firefighter hepatitis B program to immunize members of Volunteer Fire Companies.
The immunization registry, DelVAX, has been online since December 2011. With its improved functionality, medical providers, school administrators and parents can now have increased access to accurate immunization records thus improving immunization rates and reducing the incidence of unnecessary immunization. With the additional funding to improve interoperability, the registry is in the process of linking providers electronically to DelVAX through the Delaware Health Information Network. This will eliminate the need for duplicate data entry and further improve data quality.