Protecting South Carolina’s Children through Community Partnerships
From 1994 through 2002, South Carolina led the nation in childhood immunization.
How did that happen? We tried a little creative thinking.
In 1993, the Palmetto Project and a number of other statewide non-profit organizations joined with the state government and hundreds of local businesses and community organizations to implement a massive health initiative to immunize the state’s children.
Instead of spending thousands of dollars on consultants and studies, we just asked public health officials – mostly local nurses – to tell us what their communities could do to help them immunize more kids. They told us, and we created task forces comprised of civic and business leaders in all 46 counties to design and implement a local immunization plan based on what we had learned.
Within a year, South Carolina was ranked first in the nation in immunization coverage among its youngest citizens, and we remained a national leader for the next eight years. Even historic disparities based on race, income, and geography were eliminated!
Today one of the most effective community partnerships still using this model is in Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties. In 1992, rates in these counties were slightly more than 50%, but today they consistently lead the state at or near 90%. The current focus of the Tri-County Immunization Coalition is children, adolescents, and seniors.
- In 1992, South Carolina ranked among the ten states with the lowest childhood immunization rates. Less than two years later, we led the nation.
- In 1994, President & Mrs. Clinton held a special Rose Garden news conference to call national attention to the work of the Palmetto Project and its partners.
- In 1995 the Annual Report of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services listed the work of the Palmetto Project and its community partnerships as a national model.
- By 1996 with the encouragement of the CDC, 26 states had replicated parts of our program into their approach to children’s health.
- According to former White House Immunization Director, “The Palmetto Project’s ability to create local coalitions and inspire them to think outside-the-box turned their state into a national model, especially in reaching minority populations.”
Contact: Shelli Quenga, firstname.lastname@example.org