TIP Talk!

Tuesday February 21, 2012

What is Community Immunity?

One of the most effective programs TIP has developed is an exercise known as Community Immunity. Developed by President and CEO Anna Dragsbaek, this exercise was created in response to a need for explanations in layman’s terms to help members of the community understand the importance of immunizations.

For the past two years TIP Project Coordinator, LaTasha Hinckson has been conducting the Community Immunity exercises.

“A lot of times when we do presentations they have a lot of statistics and information that are aimed at people with health care backgrounds,” said Hinckson.  “Community Immunity is fun and involves participation which makes it easier for people who don’t necessarily work in health care to connect with the message.”

The public response to the Community Immunity presentation has been overwhelmingly positive.

“People get a lot from the exercise,” said Hinckson. “They often tell me how easy it was for them to get the message and how it just sort of clicked.”

The response was so strong that TIP now collaborates with Laura King, health education nurse and Rachel Cunningham an education specialist, both from Texas Children’s Hospital.

“I was impressed with how well Community Immunity demonstrated the concept of herd immunity and emphasized the importance of vaccinating all those who can be vaccinated in order to protect those who cannot,” said King. “Combining the resources of the TCH Immunization Project and The Immunization Partnership in the form of a Community Immunity presentation has resulted in wonderful opportunities to share the importance of immunizations in the greater Houston area.”

Cunningham believes that the presentation helps the audience physically see something that has previously only been described in statistical data.

“The Community Immunity exercise allows people to visualize how disease spreads and why immunizations are needed,” said Cunningham. “The exercise really helps bring home the message that we each play a part in protecting our community.”

So how does the Community Immunity exercise work? It’s simple. At the beginning of the presentation each participant is given a card that has either a yellow, green, red, white or blue dot.

The yellow dot represents those who are unimmunized, green represents immunized, red is contraindicated, blue indicates someone who has the disease (in most cases the disease in the Community Immunity exercise is the flu) and white represents someone who has died from the disease.

Participants are then asked stand up according to what color dot they have.

Charlice White of Catholic Charities attended a Community Immunity event held at the March of Dimes.

“I thought the  exercise was fun,” said White. “I was surprised about the recommendation for Tdap (Pertussis vaccine). I didn’t know it was also recommended that adult family members also be vaccinated against the disease.

Other participants found the exercise as educational as it was amusing.

“I had no idea how many people a sick person could come into contact with,” said Lucy Rhodes, another attendee at the March of Dimes presentation. “I mean I knew it but seeing all those people standing up, really put the possibility of infection in perspective.”

The Community Immunity exercise can be conducted anywhere.

“We visit so many places,” said Hinckson. “We’ve done it at other non-profits, churches, schools and rotary clubs.”

There are also two versions of the presentation- a 10 minute and a 45 minute session..

“The actual activity itself is 10 minutes long,” said Hinckson. “But the 45 minute presentation not only includes the exercise but input from Laura and Rachel from Texas Children’s. They give an overview about the vaccinations that adults need, the diseases that exist and a state of the nation, in regards to immunizations, overview.”

TIP does not charge a fee to come out and give their Community Immunity presentation.

“That’s the great part about Community Immunity,” said Hinckson. “We’ll come to your organization or community free of charge.  All we want to do is spread the message and not the disease.”

In order to schedule a Community Immunity presentation please contact LaTasha Hinckson at (281) 400-3689 or lhinckson@immunizeusa.org.


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