“We are committed to… advocating for and providing vaccines to our community. We continuously work to grow our immunization program as new vaccines become available and as the ability to receive reimbursement increases. I believe it is an essential core objective of Public Health and one that should not be abandoned or relinquished.”
-Joanne Belanger, RN, Assistant Director of Public Health
Meeting the public health needs of the Town of Andover
The Andover Health Division is a valued member of the Massachusetts Adult Immunization Coalition. Located in Andover, MA, the Andover Health Division promotes and protects the health of the residents of Andover, those who work in Andover, and those who visit Andover. The Andover Health Division is responsible for addressing all public health threats in the community and promoting good health practices through their Environmental Health and Community Health Programs.
The Community Health Program (CHP) provides clinical services to those served by the Andover Health Division including:
- Communicable disease report response and follow up
- TB case management
- Immunization Program
- Health, wellness, and prevention clinics, education, and trainings
CHP works closely with other town departments, divisions, health care providers, and community organizations to ensure the public health care needs of Andover are being met. Over the past several years, CHP has addressed their communities vaccination needs using creative and unique approaches.
Making vaccines affordable for adults
In 2007, CHP began providing the Zostavax vaccine to those served by the Andover Board of Health. Indicated for adults aged 60 and over, Zostavax was initially too expensive for many Medicare patients. To keep Zostavax costs down, a local charitable organization provided funding to CHP resulting in each patient paying $10 for the vaccine. Over 1,000 residents were vaccinated. Today, the program continues with the Shingrix vaccine. Since Shingrix is indicated for patients 50 years and older, CHP is able to bill private insurance for patients not covered by Medicare. This helps to keep Shingrix costs for patients at $15/shot.
Increased insurance reimbursement for Shingrix and other vaccines allowed CHP to stretch program dollars and expand their vaccine program to offer additional vaccines. CHP found that as their vaccine program expanded, and community members returned for additional vaccines, program staff built and maintained relationships with returning patients. These relationships, and the trust which developed, led to opportunities for program staff to assess patients for additional health care needs and offer additional services as needed.
Keeping students protected from flu
CHP initiated a school-flu program during the 2009-2010 H1N1 flu season. First offering the flu vaccine to middle and high school students, and then expanding the program to include students in the elementary grades with the availability of Flumist, CHP held vaccination clinics in Andover schools, during the school day. While the elementary school-flu program is currently on hold until Flumist becomes available again, many parents expressed gratitude for the convenience of having their children vaccinated in school. Parents were pleased to not have to take additional time out of their families schedule to visit their children’s primary care physician for the flu vaccine.
Partnership with Merrimack College
International college students studying in the US may not be able to obtain the required vaccines prior to US arrival. Vaccine availability in their home country, or not being able to complete a vaccine series due to time restraints, can impact a students ability to become fully vaccinated. To address this issue, CHP formed a partnership with Merrimack College in Andover, MA to immunize international students. Required vaccines are provided by CHP at the College Health Services office on the Merrimack College campus and billed to the student’s health insurance. Providing vaccines on campus is convenient for students and increases compliance with immunization requirements. The CHP is looking to expand the program and make it available on move-in day for domestic students as well. The Andover Health Division works to address the public health needs of the approximately 36,000 Andover residents. Citing the development of vaccines to prevent illness and death as one of the ten greatest public health achievements, Andover Health Division and CHP is a strong advocate of vaccination and a valued immunization partner.
For more information about the Andover Health Division, please contact:
Joanne Belanger, RN
Assistant Director of Public Health
Andover Health Division
36 Bartlet Street
Andover, MA 01810