By: Chrystal Averette
Editor’s Note: From time to time in this space, we want to share stories from our alumni as they relate their experiences with APUS and how they have impacted their careers and personal lives. This week, we feature AMU master of public health graduate Chrystal Averette of the Washington State Department of Health’s Office of Immunization and Child Profile, recipient of the 2017 James P. Etter Award for Creativity and Innovation. We encourage you to contact us at email@example.com to share your own APUS journey with us as well.
As part of my practicum for my Master of Public Health degree for American Military University, I participated in the #Bhepbfree campaign launched May 1, 2016, during Hepatitis B Awareness Month. The campaign resulted in 1.1 million Washington state residents being reached through social media and has become a prominent topic well beyond as many other states and organizations have similarly raised awareness about a disease that is rarely discussed. The agency that used this application is known as Thunderclap, a crowdsourcing tool that helps to amplify the message on a specified day and time across different social media platforms.
My role involved doing assessment work to measure immunization rates in birthing hospitals in Washington, resulting in the identification of a birthing hospital that met the Immunization Action Coalition National Birth Dose Honor Roll criteria and received national recognition. This process will continue to help hospitals measure their rates and make improvements to increase the birth dose rate.
The Washington State Department of Health was selected for the Association of Immunization Managers (AIM) Bull’s Eye Award for Innovation and Excellence in Immunization for 2017 for the campaign. This award is presented to state, territorial, or local immunization program in recognition of an outstanding immunization initiative. The Department of Health was the first Washington State agency to use the application, and leveraged many partners that support immunizations to help further broaden consumer awareness.
The campaign kicked off the month of May with a message about the importance of the Hepatitis B vaccine given at birth. There were weekly messages sent via the agency’s Facebook and Twitter accounts about the vaccine importance at different ages to support awareness of the disease and the vaccine that prevents it. The campaign used staff time only to develop supporting materials and graphics. In addition to the social media campaign, a webpage was developed so that parents can review more information about the vaccine and why infants need to be vaccinated. This resulted in increased hits to the newly-created webpage compared to any other immunization topic during this period.
My degree provided the foundational knowledge necessary to help further strengthen my expertise in program planning, evaluation, and policy. I am truly proud that my studies at AMU helped me to successfully develop and apply practical knowledge of public health to grants and projects which I have led and supported the last two years.