From 1989 to 1991, a measles epidemic severely impacted the children of South Los Angeles, highlighting their vulnerability to vaccine-preventable disease.
In response South LA Health Projects began taking steps to increase childhood immunization rates. We later shifted our focus to immunization across the lifespan.
Original efforts In 1993 we began our childhood immunization efforts at four of our WIC offices with funding from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. South LA Health Projects WIC staff assessed children’s immunization records and provided the mothers information and referrals.
Initially the tracking was done manually, but subsequently we transitioned to an automated tracking system and an intensive system of assessment, information and referral. This enabled us, by 2008, to achieve the U.S. Healthy People 2010 goal of 80% of children vaccinated with recommended vaccines by age two. Much of this work was funded from 1995 to mid 2010 by grants from the California State Department of Public Health Immunization Branch.
We have continued to expand immunization activities at our WIC offices, where we promote immunization for children, pregnant women and women who have recently given birth. Read more here>>
REACH In the late 1990s, we expanded our immunization projects with financial support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which had created its REACH 2010 Initiative. Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) is a federal effort that supports community-based coalitions to develop and implement innovative strategies for eliminating racial and ethnic disparities across various health areas. Read more about REACH here>>
Health Disparities We have sought and received CDC funding under two REACH initiatives, first to increase childhood immunization rates and later to increase adult immunization rates.
Significant disparities in immunization rates existed and continue to exist between low-income Latinos and African Americans in South LA, an economically disadvantaged community, and their white or Asian counterparts in more affluent areas of Los Angeles County.
Children in South LA are less likely to be up to date with recommended immunizations, and adults are less likely to choose immunization against the flu and pneumonia—putting them at risk for serious illness and even death.
Of the 40 REACH projects nationwide, only our two projects have focused on immunization.
Immunize LA Kids (1999-2007) In 1999, under the REACH 2010 Initiative, South LA Health Projects formed a community-based coalition known as Immunize LA Kids, which we continued to lead until 2007. The Immunize LA Kids Coalition worked actively in South LA to promote childhood immunization in the community, in close collaboration with four community partners and more than 60 pediatric providers.
Immunize LA Families (2007-2012) In 2007, when a shift occurred in REACH’s funding priorities, we expanded our vision to an across-the-lifespan focus, and the Immunize LA Kids Coalition evolved into the Immunize LA Families Coalition as part of the REACH U.S. Initiative.
With CDC funding, South LA Health Projects began to work in the area of adult immunization while continuing immunization efforts at our WIC offices. The shift in funding priority from child immunization to adult immunization reflected improvements nationwide in children’s immunization coverage as well as continued high disparities in adult immunization in disadvantaged communities.
The primary focus of Immunize LA Families (IZLAF) was to improve coverage of annual flu immunization and pneumococcal immunization among older African American and Latino adults. Learn more about IZLAF here>>
Immunize LA Families employed a number of strategies for improving immunization rates. Read here about two: