Specialty Group Spotlight: Allegheny County Immunization Coalition

Introduction by: Melanie Mayer, ACMS Marketing and Administrative Assistant

Blog by Vice President of the ACIC Ashley Ayres MBA, BS, CIC
Director, Infection Prevention
UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside Infection Prevention and Control

The Allegheny County Medical Society provides association management support to several specialty associationsACMS staff members provide administrative support and resources to these smaller groups who do not require a full-time staff member to support their operations. Recently, the Allegheny County Immunization Coalition (ACIC) signed a contract to receive administrative services from the ACMS. The ACIC is a great resource for many physicians in Allegheny County. We asked Executive Committee member Ashley Ayers to share the history of the Immunization Coalition and how ACMS members can get involved in this local organization.  

Ashley Ayers: The Allegheny County Immunization Coalition (ACIC) was formed 17 years ago in 2006, after separating from the southwest coalition.  Since then, this group has focused its time and energy on understanding the current needs of immunization, educating individuals on the importance of immunization, and helping provide services to those needing to receive immunizations.  The focus of this organization is to ensure the the citizens of Allegheny County are informed and protected from preventable diseases. Members of this coalition are physicians, nurses, pharmacists, teachers, and other health service staff.

The ACIC supports ongoing educational efforts to ensure that the public and healthcare providers are informed on the most up to date information. Since 2006, the ACIC has hosted an annual conference. This conference provides a great educational opportunity to learn from experts in the field about vaccination and the science behind where it is needed. Past conferences have included medical representatives from the CDC, nationally recognized vaccine expert, Dr. Paul Offit, Allegheny County Health Department experts, and well-known local vaccine providers.  We look forward to announcing our 2023 Conference date in the coming weeks (tentative for the beginning of October 2023 at the Doubletree Monroeville).

In addition to the Conference, the ACIC spends time working with the underserved populations in Allegheny County, as well as children in schools, to help improve the vaccination rates.  Year over year the nation has seen a decline in vaccination rates in school age children.  The ACIC helps review the data that the county receives to help align resources where vaccine education is needed, and then coordinate ways to share the education with those communities.

The ACIC has provided so much to many individuals in Allegheny County, but it has also meant a lot to those who are members of the organization. I asked some of the other leaders of the ACIC what this group has meant to them. One of the key takeaways from several of the longtime members, was the value of working with interdisciplinary teams in other professional environments to help figure out the barriers in lack of compliance with vaccination.  First and foremost, this organization has helped the community and increased vaccine awareness, but secondary to that, it has helped our members develop professional relationships with colleagues they would not normally work with.  It has created meaningful connections and better communication amongst those who truly wish to make a change in the way we discuss vaccinations in the county.

Seventeen years seams like a long time, and this group has done so much with that time, however there is much more that can be done to help promote the importance of vaccination.  Membership is free and any interested person can become a member by visiting the ACIC website. Together we can prepare the next generation to be safe and protected from preventable diseases.

For more information on the ACIC, contact Melanie Mayer at [email protected].