June 3, 2021

Purdue team assists with K-12 immunization efforts in Montgomery County

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A nationally acclaimed community paramedicine program in western Indiana will continue to expand services, thanks to assistance from Purdue University faculty and a student.

The Mobile Integrated Health Program – commonly known as community paramedicine – operated by the Crawfordsville Fire Department will expand on-site vaccine clinics to students in kindergarten through 12th grade in Montgomery County. The department was one of 50 Phase 1 winners of the Promoting Pediatric Primary Prevention (P4) Challenge sponsored by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Winners will receive $10,000 to launch their project within six months.

Caitlyn Short, a Master of Public Health student in the College of Health and Human Sciences, worked with Laura Schwab Reese and Monica Kasting, both assistant professors of public health, to secure the grant. Schwab Reese has worked with the CFD in reviewing grant applications and data analyses since 2018. She has presented with the team at numerous national and international conferences, including virtual conferences in Australia and Italy this year.  

Immunizations are an important part of healthy childhood development. For the 2019-20 school year, 30% of K-12 students in Montgomery County had not received the proper immunizations. The department began assisting schools and families by offering vaccines to K-12 students in November 2020 and has been providing the COVID-19 vaccinations to students ages 16 and above and school staff during the spring.

“We hope that connecting kids with vaccines in their school will reduce some of the barriers families experienced. We’ll also be working with local pediatricians and primary care providers to make it easier for families to access those types of care,” Schwab Reese said.

Recent CDC data found that the pandemic significantly decreased pediatric vaccinations. Other reasons for children not keeping their immunizations updated or attending well-child visits include being uninsured or underinsured, poverty and parents’ work schedules.

The K-12 age group is the latest to benefit from the community paramedicine program. Initially launched through a partnership with Franciscan Health Crawfordsville to address chronic diseases, hospital readmissions and emergency department visits, the program has expanded to address maternal/child health through Project Swaddle.

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Writer, Media contact: Matthew Oates, 765-586-7496 (cell), oatesw@purdue.edu, @mo_oates

Sources: Laura Schwab Reese, lschwabr@purdue.edu

Paul Miller, rmiller@crawfordsville-in.gov

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