Beginning March 1, parents of children up to 3 years of age will begin receiving an automated message from the Haywood County Health Department reminding them to get their children vaccinated.
The messages are possible as a result of a new automated dialing system the Health Department has obtained through grant funds provided by the Immunization Branch of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The grants were provided to each county health department as a means of boosting child immunization rates across the state.
The automated dialer uses a computer system and a telephone line to contact every household in Haywood County with children under the age of 3. The information for the phone calls and other immunization tracking activities is obtained from vital records, such as birth certificates, which the health department is charged with maintaining.
Haywood County Health Director Carmine Rocco said he is hopeful that the new auto dialer will not only provide for better staff effectiveness, but will improve on the current childhood immunization rate, which is already one of the highest in the state. At present, Haywood County ranks third in the state with 89 percent of children age 3 years receiving state-required immunizations, according to the DHHS Immunization Branch.
“We are proud of our county’s vaccination rate and ranking in the state, but want to continue moving those numbers higher in the future.” Rocco said. “With the addition of this auto dialer, the health department will have another tool available that will enable us to help parents of children in the county understand and meet state vaccination requirements”
Rocco said the auto dialer is also a step forward for staff efficiency. Previously, health department officials would call parents and send them reminder post cards, pulling staff from other duties. Now, in an effort to efficiently utilize staff and resources, a pre-recorded message will inform the parents about the requirements and remind them that the health department or their primary care provider should be contacted for an appointment or questions.
The auto dialer will not prompt parents for personal information or to make a payment, nor will there be a charge for the phone call.
North Carolina requires all children, except those exempted by religious preference or medical reasons, to be immunized against a variety of diseases such as Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps, and Rubella. This measure helps children lead healthier lives and assists public health officials in the prevention of preventable diseases.
For questions or more information, please contact the health department at 828-452-6675 during normal business hours, which are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
For more information, contact:
David Teague, Public Information Officer
828-452-7305; 828-400-9691 or