COVID - 19
The Arkansas Department of Health has activated a call center to answer questions from health care providers and the public about the novel coronavirus. During normal business hours (8:00am – 4:30pm), urgent and non-urgent calls, please call 1-800-803-7847. After normal business hours, urgent calls needing immediate response, please call 501-661-2136. You can also stay up-to-date on the number of cases in Arkansas as well as frequently asked questions by going to this link: https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
The Arkansas Immunization Action Coalition is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization, which is supported by contributions from individuals, foundations, community organizations, corporations, and local and state government agencies. All monetary contributions, large and small, are valued and put to good use towards our programs and activities. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law under IRS regulations.
2019 - 2020 College Flu
ImmunizeAR, with the support of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, developed a friendly Flu Vaccination Challenge among all colleges and universities in Arkansas that wished to participate. 9 institutions participated- over 2000 students reported they received a flu vaccine.
Henderson State University (Arkadelphia, AR) won the overall challenge for the 2019-20 school year. The institution with the greatest percentage of their undergraduate student population vaccinated is the overall winner.
Pictured from left to right: Deborah Collins, Tami Arnold, Heather Mercer (Executive Director, ImmunizeAR) Ginger Harris, Renee Walls
Arkansas State University - Newport (Newport, AR) won the Innovation Award for the 2019 - 2020 school year. The innovation award is given to the school with the most creative campaign to get the students vaccinated against the flu.
Pictured L to R: Heather Mercer (ImmunizeAR Executive Director), Sandra Massey, Ed.D. ASU-Newport Chancellor
On December 3, 2019 ImmunizeAR held its Year-End Meeting and Immunization Champion Awards Presentation.
Below are our 2019 Immunization Champion Winners
2019 Outstanding Childhood Immunization Champion
Justin Boyd, PharmD
Pictured L to R Heather Mercer (ImmunizeAR), John Vinson accepting the award for Justin Boyd, PharmD
Outstanding Childhood Immunization Champion is given to an individual, organization, or provider who demonstrates exceptional dedication to childhood immunizations. Justin Boyd is both an immunization champion as well as a state legislator, District 77 of Ft. Smith. He is a pharmacist and community pharmacy owner at Coleman Pharmacy of Alma. Dr. Boyd served on the Healthcare Legislative Task Force in 2016 and advocated for the Stephen Group to study and make recommendations on addressing vaccine reform in Arkansas Medicaid. He has been a leader in pediatric immunization policy discussions including leading both legislative hearings and conversations with DHS, the Governor and the legislature to study the VFC and SCHIP programs low administration fees and operational and regulatory burdens. In 2019, Dr. Boyd was the lead sponsor to pass a new state law to bring transparency on requiring public and private schools to report the number and percentage of students who have exemptions from or have not provided proof of required vaccinations.
2019 HPV Superstar
Allison Hester, APRN, MSN, CPNP
Pictured L to R Heather Mercer (ImmunizeAR), Allison Hester
HPV Superstar is given to an individual, organization, or provider who is dedicated to raising HPV vaccination rates in AR and educating the community about the HPV vaccine. Allison Hester has championed the effort at the ACH Stephens Elementary school clinic to provide HPV vaccine to as many eligible students as possible. What started as an effort to just have the minimum number of vaccines available in the clinic that children aged 4 – 11 would need has quickly grown to a clinic that serves students and their siblings of all ages from several schools with the full complement of vaccines, especially HPV. Allison meets the criteria for being named an HPV Superstar because she has championed providing the vaccine in a school-based clinic that only has a small portion of children eligible for the vaccine, but she has concentrated her efforts on the siblings of those students and other students from around the Little Rock School District that could possibly get their health care at Stephens.
2019 Outstanding Efforts in Influenza
Pictured L to R Heather Mercer (ImmunizeAR), Libby Seftar
Outstanding Efforts in Influenza is given to an individual, organization, or provider that demonstrates exceptional dedication to ensuring access to influenza vaccine or provided education to their community members.Libby Seftar has worked with the Arkansas Department of Health for over 30 years in many capacities but continuously strives to increase awareness of the influenza vaccine to her community and in the job she currently serves – supervising the Community Health Nurses and Community Health Promotion Specialists in the North part of the state but working with the entire state to provide education. Libby helped this year with efforts to increase vaccinations in schools by developing a fact sheet to be sent out to school administrators across the state on how getting school kids vaccinated for the flu can help them and the children they serve.
2019 Outstanding Community Partner
Pictured L to R Peggy Starling, Chief Outreach Service Officer, Heather Mercer (ImmunizeAR) Shaneca Smith, Outreach Specialist
Outstanding Community Partner is given to a community organization that demonstrates exceptional dedication to immunizations and furthering the mission of AIAC through collaboration and partnership. AFMC has continuously developed educational/informational immunization campaigns to reach health care providers and individuals. AFMC distributes Multilanguage postcards, posters, brochures, immunization cards, patient vaccination records, blogs, editorials and Dr. Chad’s Health video featuring Dr. Chad Rodgers. AFMC’s provider relations/outreach team works directly with physicians and clinic staff to provide them these award winning tools for their patients. Their materials are also available for providers and consumers to order at no cost from their website. AFMC has provided employees no-cost, on-site, easy access to flu and pneumonia vaccinations. All of these activities are part of the organization’s mission to promote excellence in health and healthcare through education and evaluation.
2019 Outstanding Adult Immunization Champion
Robert Hopkins, MD
Pictured L to R Heather Mercer (ImmunizeAR) and Dr. Hopkins
Outstanding Adult Immunization Champion is given to an individual, organization, or provider who demonstrates exceptional dedication to protecting adults from vaccine preventable diseases. Dr. Hopkins is an immunization champion in the UAMS Internal Medicine Clinic. He is known for his excellence and knowledge of immunizations. He inspires young practitioners and residents to never forget the importance of preventative health and immunizations. Dr. Hopkins goes above and beyond to reach and educate not only patients but residents on the importance of immunizations. He is tireless in his pursuit of raising awareness and rates of immunizations for Arkansans. He is the current chair of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee. NVAC recommends ways to achieve optimal prevention of human infectious diseases through vaccine development, and provides direction to prevent adverse reactions to vaccines. This advice is presented to the Assistant Secretary for Health who serves as the Director of National Vaccine Program on matters related to program responsibilities. He is also a member of the ACIP Workgroups and of the Arkansas NVAC. He is truly a champion by putting his knowledge and expertise into action and service for the State of Arkansas. We are blessed to have him.
ImmunizeAR has been awarded $37,500 from Blue & You for a Healthier Arkansas for an immunization project within the Arkansas School Based Health Clinics in 2020.
Pictured L to R
Jeanie Smith, PharmD, Jennifer Dillaha, MD, Heather Mercer, Patrick O'Sullivan, John Vinson, Pharm D, Shaneca Smith, BSN, RN, CNOR(E)
Travel Vaccine Information
Visiting another country can put you at risk for diseases that may not normally be found in the United States. Getting vaccinated against certain diseases is one of the most effective things you can do to protect your health abroad. Plan to get the travel vaccines you need at least a month before your trip. Most vaccines need to be given ahead of time to give you full protection against a disease. If you need a yellow fever vaccine, plan to travel some distance away from where you live to get it. Only a limited number of clinics have the vaccine. The Arkansas Department of Health has a list of clinics around the state that provide travel vaccines: Click here for the link
Click the image for the full list of clinics
There has been a lot of news lately about measles. There have been over 1100 cases diagnosed nationwide and the number grows daily. The Arkansas Department of Health has developed these informational pieces to help answer many of the questions people have about the disease and the vaccine.
During the 2019 Arkansas Legislative Session, two immunization related bills were passed. HB1278 and HB1786 and are now Act652 and Act676. They are below:
Act 652 - Reps. Gazaway, Lundstrum
Click the image above or the text below for the document
Act 652 - (Subtitle) To amend the definition of "practice of pharmacy" to allow vaccines and immunizations to be given to a person from seven (7) years of age to eighteen (18) years of age under a general written protocol.
Act 676 - Rep. Boyd
Click the image above or the text below for the document
Act 676 - (Subtitle) To require public and private schools to report certain information regarding the number and percentage of students who have exemptions from or have not provided proof of required vaccinations.
ImmunizeAR, with the support of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, developed a friendly Flu Vaccination Challenge among all colleges and universities in Arkansas that wished to participate. 12 institutions participated- over 3000 students reported they received a flu vaccine.
North Arkansas College (Harrison, AR) won the overall challenge for the 2018-19 school year. The institution with the greatest percentage of their undergraduate student population vaccinated is the overall winner.
Pictured L to R Tavonda Brown, Heather Mercer (ImmunizeAR Executive Director), Cindy Mayo, Tatum King.
Harding University, Carr College of Nursing (Searcy, AR) won the Innovation Award for the 2018 - 2019 school year. The innovation award is given to the school with the most creative campaign to get the students vaccinated against the flu.
Pictured L to R Lisa Engel, MSN, RN, CNE, Assistant Professor, Carr College of Nursing, , Harding University; Heather Mercer, Executive Director, ImmunizeAR
The HPV Vaccine is Cancer Prevention Champion Award, given jointly by CDC, American Cancer Society, and the Association of American Cancer Institutes, recognizes clinicians, clinics, practices, groups, and health systems who are going above and beyond to foster HPV vaccination in their communities. Dr. Floyd Gonzalez, pediatrician in DeQueen is Arkansas' Champion. You can see his full profile on the CDC website here: CDC Website
Pictured LtoR: Josy Garcia, Claudia DelaCruz (HPV Prevention Workgroup Coordinator) Dr. Floyd Gonzalez, Heather Mercer (ImmunizeAR Executive Director), Elizabeth SanJuan, Dayanara Ramirez
On December 11, 2018 ImmunizeAR held its Year-End Meeting and Immunization Champion Awards Presentation.
Below are our 2018 Immunization Champion Winners
2018 Outstanding Childhood Immunization Champions
UAMS Dept. of Pediatrics Following Baby Back Home
Pictured L to R Tosha Fougerousse, Carmen Irby, Heather Mercer (ImmunizeAR), Stephanie Rieder, and Jennifer Medley
Outstanding Childhood Immunization Champion is given to an individual, organization, or provider who demonstrates exceptional dedication to childhood immunizations. Following Baby Back Home (FBBH) is a home visiting and case management program providing services in 57 of the 75 Arkansas counties for infants discharged from a NICU and their families. The FBBH Home Visitors provide caregivers with the CDC immunization schedule and age appropriate vaccine information statements in English, Spanish and Marshallese. It is evidenced through the data the impact the FBBH Home visitors are making on immunization compliance for one of our state most vulnerable patient population. FBBH has demonstrated and sustained an immunization compliance rate of around 97% for several reporting periods.
2018 HPV Superstar
Pictured L to R Laura Fletcher & Heather Mercer (ImmunizeAR)
HPV Superstar is given to an individual, organization, or provider who is dedicated to raising HPV vaccination rates in AR and educating the community about the HPV vaccine. Laura Fletcher serves as an American Cancer Society volunteer; including serving as one of their HPV Champions in Arkansas. She took the time to travel to Little Rock to share her story at the 2018 Immunization Summit and the HPV Summit. She is a three-time Cervical Cancer Survivor and shares information about HPV vaccination as a prevention opportunity when and where ever she can.
2018 Outstanding Efforts in Influenza
Bryant Hornet Health Center
Angela Lasiter, Heather Mercer (ImmunizeAR), Amy Smith, Nikki Martin, Anton Duke, MD and Amy Hardin
Outstanding Efforts in Influenza is given to an individual, organization, or provider that demonstrates exceptional dedication to ensuring access to influenza vaccine or provided education to their community members. The Hornet Health Center, a school based health center of Bryant School District, partnering with Arkansas Pediatric Clinic, sent out 10,000 postcards to all the children (PK - 12th grade) reminding them to get their flu shot and to get up to date on all immunizations. They also helped the various schools in the district when the flu hit Saline County early yet the flu shot clinic dates were already set by offering flu shots for students and siblings with little to no notice.
They focused a lot of social media time and spent funds on boosting posts about getting the word out for everyone to get their flu shot and facts/myths of flu shots, did community talks with pre-K parents about the flu shots, and had documents translated in Spanish to help the Spanish speaking community in Bryant understand all of the above. Their coordinator helped kids work thru their fear when parents signed them up for the flu shot and they were pulled from class by her for the shot. The Hornet Health Clinic spends a lot of time and energy educating the Saline County area on the need for flu immunizations every year.
2018 Outstanding Community Partner
Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas
Pictured L to R Heather Mercer (ImmunizeAR) Patrick O'Sullivan, Randal Hundley, MD
Outstanding Community Partner is given to a community organization that demonstrates exceptional dedication to immunizations and furthering the mission of AIAC through collaboration and partnership. The Blue & You Foundation has been a great community partner to ImmunizeAR by supporting our programs for the past two years. Through the support of the Blue & You Foundation, the Coalition has been able to continue to promote and sponsor statewide immunization programs and raise the public’s awareness about vaccine preventable diseases. The mini-grants funded through the Blue & You Foundation have provided immunization support for 40 organizations throughout the state and B&Y has provided the support to host the Immunization Summit in 2017 & 2018.
2018 Outstanding Adult Immunization Champion
Robert Hopkins, MD
Pictured L to R Heather Mercer (ImmunizeAR) and Dr. Hopkins
Outstanding Adult Immunization Champion is given to an individual, organization, or provider who demonstrates exceptional dedication to protecting adults from vaccine preventable diseases. Dr. Robert Hopkins is an immunization champion in the UAMS Internal Medicine Clinic. He is known for his excellence and knowledge of immunizations. He inspires young practitioners and residents to never forget the importance of preventative health and immunizations. Dr. Hopkins goes above and beyond to reach and educate not only patients but residents on the importance of immunizations. He is tireless in his pursuit of raising awareness and rates of immunizations for Arkansans. He is a current member of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee. Members serve a pivotal role by providing peer review, consultation, advice, and recommendations to the Assistant Secretary for Health, who serves as the Director of the National Vaccine Program on matters related to the Program’s responsibilities. He is truly a champion by putting his knowledge and expertise into action and service for the State of Arkansas. We are blessed to have him.
ImmunizeAR has been awarded $37,374 from Blue & You for a Healthier Arkansas to implement an Immunization Institute for Medical Assistants. This will be in-depth immunization training for Medical Assistants in eight locations around the state in 2019. For the full Blue & You Foundation Press Release, click the image below:
Pictured L to R: Jeanie Smith, PharmD; Claudia DelaCruz; Heather Mercer; Patrick O'Sullivan; Jennifer Dillaha, MD; Randal Hundley, MD
WEEKLY FLU REPORT
During the flu season the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) produces a Weekly Influenza Report for clinicians. The report provides information on flu activity in the state. The report also compares influenza like illness (ILI) in Arkansas to activity in the US. ADH receives reports of only a fraction of flu cases. Therefore, it is important to understand that the information in the weekly update is representative of the timing and location of activity, but it does not reflect the overall burden of disease. It is likely that there are many more people actually affected than the report shows. Clinicians and policy makers may find the report helpful in terms of communicating to colleagues and patients about the current status of the flu season.
(Photo L to R) Robert Hopkins Jr., MD, MACP, FAAP, professor and director of the Division of General Internal Medicine in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; Nathaniel Smith, MD, MPH, Arkansas Department of Health Director and State Health Officer; Heather Mercer, Executive Director Arkansas Immunization Action Coalition; Jennifer Dillaha, MD, Medical Director Immunizations, Arkansas Department of Health; Jose Romero, MD, FAAP, FIDSA, FPIDS, Chief of Pediatric Infectious Disease Section, Arkansas Children's Hospital
On Tuesday, August 7, 2018, Dr. Nathaniel Smith, Director of the Arkansas Department of Health recognized Dr. Robert Hopkins and Dr. Jose Romero who have recently been appointed to chair separate federal health committees on immunizations. Dr. Hopkins is the chair of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Dr. Romero is the chair of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is rare for two doctors from the same state to chair these national committees.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson has also recognized Dr. Hopkins and Dr. Romero for their work on behalf of the state and the health of its residents. They are holding letters or recognition from Gov. Hutchinson.
The Arkansas Immunization Action Coalition, with funding from the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas, is pleased to announce the following organizations have received the 2018 mini-grants.