By Terri Andrews and Linda Kennedy
It has long been our fear to have community spread of an illness that potentially overwhelms our healthcare system capacity and results in the illness and/or death of tens or even hundreds of thousands of people. Many years ago, the TCMS Alliance and Foundation joined other concerned organizations, both public and private, to form the Immunization Collaboration of Tarrant County (ICTC) to help promote and provide immunizations in our community. In this year of COVID-19, we know that our fears were well founded and what the world looks like with a virus and no vaccine. Our community is opening from the quarantine that was needed to control the initial spread of COVID-19. Schools are opening and thousands of children need required vaccines to move from virtual to in person classes. Many of our local children missed scheduled vaccines when the pandemic hit North Texas.
Every August, the ICTC has hosted immunization clinics which Tarrant County Public Health provides the vaccines for at five different community health fairs and back to school events over four weeks. This model in five locations over a shorter time is not possible in this time of COVID-19. Fortunately, ICTC was able to react to the new circumstances hosting the Be Wise—ImmunizeTM Low Cost Back to School Vaccine Event July 20 through September 11, 2020 at Ridgmar Mall in Fort Worth. The site provides plenty of social distancing space for families and students receiving the needed vaccines. Immunizations are low cost for families who are uninsured or are covered by CHIP or Medicaid.
In 2005, TCMS Alliance brought Be Wise—ImmunizeTM to Immunization Collaboration of Tarrant County. ICTC is a volunteer driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to the systematic eradication of vaccine preventable diseases in Tarrant County. ICTC projects directly improve the health and well-being of children, teens and adults through low cost vaccine events, community education on the importance of childhood and adult immunizations, and advocacy for better vaccine systems and policy since 1991. Over 40 agencies are members of ICTC.
TMA Foundation and TCMS Alliance support for ICTC programs is ongoing. The Be Wise—Immunize logo, leadership, funding, and volunteers from across Tarrant County keep ICTC going strong. ICTC Vaccine events 2019 provided 9412 clients with 24,057 doses of vaccine. To learn more or to be an ICTC volunteer visit http://www.icthome.org or http://www.tcmsalliance.org.