Don't Wait to Vaccinate

A campaign responds to a health crisis

Shots to remember book

276 Leagues under the auspices of The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc.

Name of Initiative: Don’t Wait to Vaccinate

Issue Area(s): Child Welfare, Health & Nutrition

Metric of Success (if quantifiable/available):  The Association presented written testimony for the Special Hearing on Immunizations of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations to urge support for adequate funding for immunization services. Ohio Governor Voinovich approved a 67 percent increase in funding for immunizations.


In 1991, The Association of Junior Leagues International initiated an international public awareness campaign entitled “Don’t Wait to Vaccinate” to stem the alarming increase in preventable childhood diseases. Designed to alert and educate parents about the urgency of childhood immunization, the campaign was targeted at vulnerable populations. It coincided with National Volunteer Week and marked the beginning of a sustained effort of advocacy, public education, and direct service designed to ensure the development of policies and systems for basic healthcare services. It aimed to fight the very childhood diseases Leagues had helped to eradicate earlier in the century.

Community Partners

  • Local chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Local children’s hospitals and clinics
  • State and local departments of health

How it works

Two hundred and seventy-six participating Junior Leagues worked with state and local departments of health, state and local chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics, local children’s hospitals and clinics, and other healthcare providers to identify disease rates, immunization procedures and barriers to immunization, and to target at-risk populations who were under-insured, illiterate, or non-English-speaking. Campaign materials included billboards, transit displays, and English and Spanish public service announcements. In addition, handouts featuring recommended immunization schedules were distributed at thousands of clinics, hospitals, health fairs, day care centers, and shopping malls. In addition, League members made efforts in legislative advocacy.

What’s the impact?

At the national level, The Association presented written testimony on June 20, 1991 for the Special Hearing on Immunizations of the Senate Committee on Appropriations to urge support for adequate funding for immunization services.

The campaign was recognized by President George Bush as “a point of light” in remarks in the Rose Garden.

The Association shared its findings at a Washington roundtable entitled “Improving Child Health:  Enhancing the Effectiveness of Citizen Action and Collaborative Campaigns,” which drew representatives of 49 organizations. Following the roundtable the Association published a how-to manual that detailed how Leagues in collaboration with other health agencies could develop effective child and maternal health programs in their communities.

The California Public Affairs Committee formed the California Home Day Care Immunization Project in collaboration with local health departments in the state in order to respond to the critical need for immunization in the state’s licensed home day care facilities.

The Junior League of Cleveland formed a coalition with children’s hospitals, local and state health departments, and the local chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics to develop a multi-pronged approach to the problem including a city-wide public awareness campaign; a week dedicated to immunization at 19 different sites to administer the HIB vaccine free of charge; a video for use on closed circuit television for new mothers in hospital maternity wards; and lobbying at the state and local levels to ensure funding for all recommended vaccines. As a result of the work of the Cleveland League and seven others in Ohio, Governor Voinovich proposed a 67 percent increase in funding for immunization in the state for the Fiscal Year 1991 to 1992 and a further increase for the following Fiscal Year.