Immunization protects community health in multiple ways: immunized individuals are protected from disease; if the community is immunized, the target disease is minimized or eradicated; and those who have weak immune systems or cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons are protected in an immunized community. Children are more vulnerable and prone to illness than healthy adults due to their immature immune systems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends young children should be fully immunized against Polio, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Whooping Cough), Tetanus, Measles, Mumps, and Rubella, Varicella (Chicken Pox), Haemophilus Influenza Type B, Hepatitis A, and Hepatitis B. http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=hsc&group=120001-121000&file=120325-120380
How are we doing?
Of the total 333 kindergarteners enrolled in the Tahoe/Truckee Joint Unified School District (TTUSD) in the 2011/12 school year, 66% had records of completion for all required immunizations. This is a reduction from 2006, when 70% were fully immunized. In the same year, 94% of kindergarteners were fully immunized in the California public school system. Children who lack one or more required vaccine doses in a series that are not currently due may be admitted with the requirement that they receive the remaining doses when due (noted as conditional entrants in the table). At TTUSD, XX% percent (98 students) of kindergarteners fall into the population of “conditional entrants. Conditional entrants can include children who did not receive their vaccinations by the recommended age or children who do not have their immunization records available and must begin their vaccinations again. Children with “conditional entrant” status may be vulnerable to infectious diseases while they wait for the next series of shots.
Parents may delay or refuse immunizations for their children due to religious or personal beliefs. Also, some children can't get their shots due to health problems.
By law, students may be denied entry into the school system if immunizations are not up to date. The challenge of ensuring that conditional entrants receive the remaining doses of their vaccinations is currently placed on TTUSD staff. Ideally, 100% of children would be fully immunized prior to entry into the TTUSD school system to protect their health and the health of the Tahoe/Truckee community.
Lifestyle patterns (what you eat, exercise level, tobacco use, etc.) usually begin in childhood. Unhealthy body composition, which is the percentage of fat to muscle mass and bone, is a contributing factor to chronic disease. By maintaining an active lifestyle, eating healthfully, and avoiding substance abuse, one can dramatically reduce the risk of developing a chronic disease.
In 2011 Tahoe Forest Health System conducted it's first Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) which engaged key stakeholders and community members to describe the health of local people, identify use of local health care services, identify community needs and distinguish action needed to address the future delivery of health care in the region. The 2011 CHNA identified 5 goals as health priorities:
Access to Primary Care
The Wellness Neighborhood was established in 2012 to provide architecture for community health programming that focused on the 5 goals established in 2011 and expanded upon them to include Dental Care and Chronic Disease Management. The 2014 CHNA showed positive health trends as well as a need to continue community and health programming. The 2011 CHNA goals and the 2012 Wellness Neighborhood evolved in 2015 to their current focus:
Optimizing Health and Primary/Preventive Health
Mental and Behavioral Health
Access to Care and Care Coordination
Who We Serve
How We Impact
The Wellness Neighborhood builds off the theory that change is most likely to occur when core community organizations and leaders respond to calls to action and align their actions toward common results. This theory, referred to as Collective Impact, involves collaboration between TFHS and community organizations through design and alignment of priority issues, evaluation and tracking of improvements. Partnered organizations have a common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication between partners and the public and perhaps most importantly a backbone of support organizations aligned with community non-profits.