Background on Environment & Policy
What are immunization environment and policy changes?
- Environment and policy changes create healthy places and practices to support and promote immunization.
- Environmental changes are designed to build structures and design physical surroundings to support individuals in the community. These may include improving access to resources, services or support to affect their own health or the health of those around them.
- Policy changes are laws or regulations that are put in place to achieve a goal. These may include organizational policies or public policies at the local, state or national levels. Policies are an important way to focus on the social, economic and environmental factors that influence immunization.
- Environment and policy changes can affect behaviors and environments related to immunization by:
- requiring children to be immunized in order to enroll in school,
- supporting standing orders for nurses to provide immunizations under specific physician orders; and
- providing vaccines at locations that are convenient and accessible.
How can I use environment and policy strategies in immunizations interventions?
- Changes in environments and policies are critical to improving immunization rates.
- In communities, these strategies are attractive because they can reach all community members. Similarly, in organizations, they can reach all employees.
- These strategies can create changes that last much longer than other interventions.
What are the different strategies to improve immunization rates?
- The development of immunization registries can improve tracking and monitoring in communities.
- Standing orders in health care facilities can allow nurses or other health care providers to provide immunizations without obtaining permission from a physician.
- Protocols for care can help health care providers identify and immunize individuals at risk.
- Access to immunizations can be improved by providing opportunities in the community and in the home.
- Lowering the cost of immunizations can improve compliance with recommendations.
What do I need to know to create environment and policy changes?
- Changes to the environment may require promotions or programs to increase awareness of these new or improved resources or services in the community. Promotions or programs may be helpful in sustaining use of the resources or services in the community over time.
- Policy development is a process that involves many different people and their input may lead to changes in the original intent of the policy. Close supervision of this process is needed to ensure that the resulting policy has not been changed so that the intention is no longer the same.
- After a policy gets adopted by an organization or community, it may require a lot of funding and resources to get the policy implemented or the environment maintained over time.
- Larger environment or policy interventions are often more effective in changing behaviors for members of a community or an organization, maintaining these behavior changes over time. Yet, these larger interventions are far more complex and expensive.
- Environment and policy strategies may be intended for an entire community or for a particular group. For example, the strategy may help communities with few resources through tax incentives for supportive services to be located in the community.
- These strategies can also be designed to affect language or cultural barriers for different communities. For example, policies may require cultural competence of health care providers.
- Other intervention strategies can be used with environment and policy changes to provide information or guidance to encourage and enforce the desired policies, or communication to let others know about the environmental or policy changes.
Who do I work with to develop environment and policy changes?
- To get help with your environment and policy strategies, you may want to work with some of the following individuals or groups:
- school administrators
- civic decision makers
- community members
- educational institutions
- community organizations
- policy- and decision-makers
- public policy
- law enforcement
- community organizing