Connect to Your Community Through A Vaccination Clinic
By Tammy Wishard


Sometimes, health care is most effective when you bring it to patients, instead of waiting for them to come to you. 

That’s exactly what students at The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School did when they organized a pertussis vaccination clinic this spring with help from a grant from the Texas Medical Association’s Be Wise – ImmunizeSM program. 

The clinic was held in an underserved neighborhood in north Austin that had one of the county’s highest rates of pertussis (whooping cough) between 2011 and 2015, according to Austin Public Health’s 2017 Critical Health Indicators Report

Katie Jenson, a second-year medical student, spearheaded the vaccination effort for the TMA Chapter at Dell Medical School. The idea was to remove barriers to vaccination for residents in the area. 

“We wanted to bring the vaccines to them, in their languages, so transportation, cost, or any other barriers wouldn’t get in the way of protecting their health,” Ms. Jenson said. 

A TMA Local Impact Grant set the stage for the event and was a catalyst for attracting other community partners, including Austin Public Health and Dell Medical School. 

The medical students gave the vaccinations over four weekends. Ms. Jenson said that practical experience was a valuable complement to the students’ medical training. 

“Some of us dream about spending time in rural Texas or low-resource areas around the world, and we want to know how to do as much as we can,” she said. 

If you know of a vaccination need in your community, whether for children or adults, consider applying for a Be Wise Local Impact Grant. Some areas of need are highlighted in a recent Be Wise – Immunize report (see maps on page 4 for areas of the state where vaccination exemptions are high and certain vaccination coverage is low). 

TMA physicians/clinics, medical students, county medical societies, and TMA Alliance chapters are eligible to receive a Be Wise grant of up to $2,500. 

Use the new TMA Foundation Online Grant Interface to submit an application by Nov. 1 for vaccination events in the first half of 2020. Grantees have up to 12 months to use the funds. TMA will accept applications again on March 1, 2020, for shot clinics in the summer and later. 

For help planning your free or low-cost vaccination event, check out the Be Wise – Immunize Quick Start Manual: A Step-by-Step Vaccination Outreach Guide and Be Wise Event Ideas. Or for more information, contact Tammy Wishard, TMA’s Outreach Coordinator, at 512-370-1470 or via email

TMA actively works to improve vaccination rates in Texas through Be Wise. More than 360,000 shots have been given to Texas children, adolescents, and adults since the program began in 2004. 

Be Wise – Immunize is a joint initiative led by TMA physicians, medical students, and the TMA Alliance. It is funded in 2019 by the Texas Medical Association Foundation thanks to H-E-B, TMF Health Quality Institute, Pfizer Inc., and gifts from physicians and their families. 

Be Wise – Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association.

Last Updated On

October 10, 2019

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Tammy Wishard

Outreach Coordinator, Division of Communication

(512) 370-1470
Tammy Wishard

Tammy Wishard is TMA’s outreach coordinator. She manages TMA's award-winning Hard Hats for Little Heads and Be Wise — Immunize programs, and the Anson Jones, MD, Awards for excellence in health reporting. She has a 20-plus-year history with TMA, where she started as a writer/editor. Tammy, an Iowa native, is a graduate of Abilene Christian University.

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