What are Coalitions?
Immunization coalitions are made up of people, dedicated people who have organized themselves together to improve the blanket of protection that vaccines offer their communities. Those communities may be local, regional, statewide, multi-statewide, national, or even international. They have variable sizes, structures, leadership and ways of operating. Coalitions focus on different areas of immunization such as making sure children get vaccinated before school entry or senior citizens receive influenza vaccine, raising community awareness about the value of vaccines, and dozens of other arenas where their expertise and hard work can increase immunization rates.
The Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) knows something about being a coalition, having begun as a small group of healthcare workers and community members on the west side of St. Paul, Minnesota. What brought our grassroots coalition together was the realization that newly arriving Southeast Asian refugees to our community were not receiving CDC-recommended hepatitis B screening and vaccination.
The coalition’s further growth was spurred on when we learned that in addition to not receiving hepatitis B vaccine, many of these refugee children were not receiving most of their recommended vaccines. Measles took the lives of three of these children in 1991, and led to the hospitalization of many more.
And this is how other coalitions get their starts too. Community members identify a problem and come together as individuals and organizations to find solutions.
IAC’s grassroots coalition history is the basis of our passion and determination to support the hundreds of immunization coalitions throughout the country by providing them with the kind of assistance each one needs to flourish.