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The Vote and Vax Program: Public Health at Polling Places

Shenson, Douglas MD, MPH, MA, MS; Adams, Mary MPH, MS

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: September-October 2008 - Volume 14 - Issue 5 - p 476–480
doi: 10.1097/01.PHH.0000333883.52893.c8
Position Paper

Although influenza-associated illness is a major cause of hospitalizations and death among older Americans, only half of adults aged 50 or older—for whom influenza vaccinations are recommended—receive an annual influenza vaccination. National elections, which draw a large number of older voters, take place during influenza vaccination season and represent an untapped opportunity for large-scale delivery of vaccinations. In 2006, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation launched a program to evaluate the feasibility of delivering influenza vaccinations near polling places. Twenty-five public health agencies were each provided grants of $8000 and asked to implement at least two Vote and Vax clinics. Immunizers were required to obtain prior permission from local election authorities and to charge fees as they would at their other community-based clinics. Influenza vaccination had to be made available both to voters and to nonvoters. On election day, the initiative delivered 13790 influenza vaccinations at 127 polling places in 14 states. More than 80 percent of adult vaccine recipients were in the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control–defined priority groups and 28 percent were “new” influenza vaccination recipients. Vote and Vax is a potentially national strategy that could significantly expand the delivery of influenza vaccinations.

This article discusses the 2006 Vote and Vax program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to assess the feasibility of delivering influenza vaccinations near polling places.

Douglas Shenson, MD, MPH, MA, MS, is the president of SPARC (Sickness Prevention Achieved Through Regional Collaboration), Lakeville, Connecticut. Dr Shenson is currently Associate Clinical Professor in the Division of Chronic Disease Epidemiology at the Yale University School of Public Health; Associate Director, Clinical Preventive Services, Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center; and Visiting Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology & Population Health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Mary Adams, MPH, MS, is an epidemiologist and a leading partner in On Target Health Data LLC, Hartford, Connecticut. For several years, Ms Adams was the Connecticut state coordinator for the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

Corresponding Author: Douglas Shenson, MD, MPH, MA, MS, 76 Prince St, Newton, MA 02465 (

This work has been supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The authors thank Michael Alderman, MD, for his review of earlier drafts of this article.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.