Prior to the formation of Children’s/AISD Student Health Services, AISD focused immunization efforts based on the state’s mandate for District level compliance, which AISD consistently achieved. Immunization rates serve as a sensitive proxy indicator for child access to health services.
AISD, as a district, is fully compliant with Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) immunization requirements. District-wide, 98.2% of students were compliant with required immunizations in SY 2014-15. State requirements address only district level compliance. DSHS has regularly selected AISD to participate in an annual validation survey. AISD continues to demonstrate success, as evidenced by the survey results.
SHS has raised the bar on this health indicator by also looking at the percent of campuses that meet the state standard of 95% compliance. Doing so helps track the immunization rates of neighborhood schools, and helps identify health disparities in children. As the chart reflects, only 37% of campuses achieved this milestone when data were first tracked. After several years of effort involving changes in management, tracking systems, community collaboration, state and local policy changes, AISD has achieved full immunization for targeted vaccines across all campuses. This reflects an improvement in the health status of children across all neighborhoods and demographic categories in the Austin area, and a reduction in health disparities among children. In SY 2014-15 96% of AISD campuses achieved or exceeded 95% immunization compliance.
Immunization challenges still exist. Students are expected to be fully immunized in August before the beginning of the school year. To accomplish this, students who will need immunizations prior to the coming school year are identified in May. Parents are notified at that time by letter of their student’s immunization needs in order to attend school in August. During the summer, SHS makes phone calls to parents reminding them to vaccinate their child, and participates in AISD’s Back to School Bash, providing free immunizations. SHS provided free clinics through August and September. A targeted immunization campaign for 6th graders (rising 7th graders) and use of an immunization team that targets campuses with large numbers of students in need helped to effectively reduce the number of previously enrolled students still needing immunizations in August, when the new school year begins.Resources targeted to the immunization team have now been reassigned to support other areas of need in school health.