United Ways of Texas (UWT) believes that the first step to making Texas a better place to live and do business is by taking care of those who make up our great state. Both physical and mental health are critical to the development and success of Texas citizens. Now more than ever, Texas – especially the Texas Gulf Coast - must be prepared for natural and manmade disasters. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita highlighted flaws in local, state and federal emergency preparedness. Texas can take small, but important steps to better prepare for coming disasters. For example, the Texas immunization registry must be expanded to include adults. A lifespan immunization registry will help give health professionals the information they need to target scarce resources in the event of an emergency.
In partnership with other health care entities throughout the state, United Ways of Texas was able to coordinate the work of Texas’ first coalition dedicated specifically to improving the Texas Immunization Registry. The Houston/Harris County Immunization Registry, Texas Children’s Hospital, and the Texas Pediatric Society committed $10,000 to this effort and through their dedicated work were able to solicit additional partners like Saint Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities to help UWT and the Texas Immunization Coalition reach its 2007 fundraising goal of $25,000.
The Coalition advocated on behalf of these recent realities to emphasize that immunization registry reform makes good economic sense. UWT was able to garner support from the business community and others who understand that preparedness saves lives and money. Houston alone saved millions of dollars in the wake of Hurricane Katrina thanks to a fast and secure transfer of adult immunization records from the Louisiana registry. With its current information systems, Texas could not make a similar data transfer in the event of a disaster. UWT felt it was important for the public to understand the seriousness of the need for immunization registry reform.
UWT received $7,500 to continue to educate the public through media events, opinion editorials, and community forums of the importance of easily accessible immunization data.