University of Missouri Partnering with State to Address Childhood Immunizations

young girl getting injection
$2 million Department of Health and Senior Services grant will establish vaccine improvement project for children and adolescents

The University of Missouri School of Medicine is leading a new statewide effort to increase immunization rates among children and teens. With support from a $2 million grant from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), a team from the School of Medicine’s Department of Family and Community Medicine will train providers and facilitate efforts to increase vaccine completion rates among younger patients.

Jane McElroy, PhD
Jane McElroy, PhD

Jane McElroy, PhD, professor of research in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, is leading the effort. Her team is focusing on completion rates of the vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

Using their extensive provider contacts throughout the state, McElroy’s team will identify pediatric providers to enroll in the project. A particular focus is on rural providers. The project team will work closely with these providers to ensure children and adolescents are receiving recommended vaccines on schedule. The goal is for each enrolled provider to vaccinate at least 100 children or adolescents in the first year.

“Immunizations are vital to child health,” said McElroy. “The goal is to protect kids and others they encounter in the home or at school from preventable diseases. We look forward to assisting pediatric providers in giving their youngest patients a healthy start and life and their school-aged children the immunizations they need to attend school and stay healthy.”

A recent report from the DHSS found declining completion rates of required vaccines among Missouri children entering kindergarten. The CDC has found a similar decrease nationally.

McElroy’s team will hire and train practice facilitators who will visit enrolled providers and assist them on vaccine clinic flow and educate them on how to recommend vaccines to patients. Providers who participate can receive a monetary stipend for their project participation.

The list of immunizations recommended by ACIP for children and teens is listed here. The University of Missouri is collaborating with the Washington University Pediatric and Adolescent Research Consortium and the Missouri Immunization Coalition on this effort.