Iowa's Success

Improving Vaccination Rates to Prevent Cancer

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Immunization Program Needed a Better Way to Share Data with Providers

The Iowa Immunization Program needed an efficient way to give vaccine providers data on human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination coverage rates up to 4 times a year. This information could help providers see how well they were meeting their young patients’ need for this vaccine. The Immunization Program also needed a better process to enter data for each of 650 providers into individual fact sheets.

Tracking Adapts Data Display Tool to Reach Vaccine Providers

The Iowa Public Health Tracking Programexternal icon helped the Immunization Program by adapting the program’s cardiovascular disease and air quality data display tool. This dashboard allows users to view data in multiple ways and to create county-specific fact sheets that show the information in an easy-to-read format. With the customized dashboard, the Immunization Program could more efficiently generate fact sheets with provider-specific data on HPV vaccination coverage, reducing steps and saving a significant amount of staff time.

Cost Savings and Better Communication of Public Health Information Result

A cost-benefit analysis showed annual savings of more than $15,000 for the Immunization Program as a result of using the Tracking-designed data tool to communicate with providers about vaccination coverage rates. The success of this project has led to the creation of additional immunization dashboards for dissemination of data related to other types of vaccines.

“The tool allowed the program to represent the data in a clear and concise manner, allowing providers to evaluate and take steps to improve immunization rates. Using the tool allows the program to provide timely data in a cost effective manner.”

— Don Callaghan, Chief of the Bureau of Immunization and Tuberculosis, Iowa Department of Public Health


Tracking Data Assist Regional Planning Efforts

Community Planners Need Information to Make Good Decisions

Designing communities that encourage healthy choices and reduce harmful environmental exposures is vital for the health of a community’s residents. Applying knowledge about population health and movement in a given area helps city planners make the best possible decisions about future transportation, infrastructure, and other projects.

Tracking Data Helps Estimate Population Changes over Time

Iowa Public Health Trackingexternal icon provided the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA) for the Omaha, NE/Council Bluffs, IA metro area with easy access to 30 years of vital records data for four Iowa counties in a format not previously available. The birth and death records were combined with census data to create age-specific fertility and death rates and to estimate population migration at the county level.

Regional Forecasting for Public Health Improved

Having easy-to-access data enabled MAPA to meet federally mandated regional forecasting and transportation modeling requirements. The data also supported the agency’s application for funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to implement a “roadmap” for the future. The Heartland 2050 roadmap encourages a collaborative approach to managing regional growth, maximizing public investment, and improving community health.

“These population forecasts are being used to develop a spatial land use allocation model for our federally mandated regional socio-economic forecasts and transportation modeling as well as assisting MAPA in the three year HUD Sustainable Communities Grant (Heartland 2050).“ 

–GIS Coordinator Paul Hunt, MAPA


Linking Lead Exposure to Risk Factors

Iowa Environmental Tracking Program Logo

What is the problem?

Childhood exposure to lead is a concern because it can cause developmental disabilities. Iowa has elevated child blood lead levels (BLLs) above the national average. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that between 2003 and 2007 more than 4,700 Iowa children had blood lead levels that were 10 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dl) or higher.

What did Tracking do?

The Iowa Tracking Program will work with the state’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program to conduct a data-linkage project. The project will study the links between childhood blood lead levels and risk factors such as poverty level, race, ethnicity, and age of housing.

Improved public health

Knowing what risk factors are related to childhood lead poisoning will help the Iowa Department of Public Health and others deliver resources and interventions to the citizens who are most at risk. This will help Iowa lower the number of children with elevated blood lead levels in the state.


Pesticides in Private Water Wells

Hand pump for water

What is the problem?

Contact with pesticides may be related to a variety of acute and chronic health problems. Private water wells have the potential to be contaminated with pesticides, especially in farming areas. About 15% of Iowans use private wells for drinking water. Little is known about the extent of human pesticide exposure from private well water.

What did Tracking do?

To improve the state’s ability to measure pesticide exposure, the Iowa Tracking Program will work with the State Hygienic Laboratory and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to map off-label pesticide use, pesticide sales, pesticide application statistics, and private well contamination data.

Improved public health

Being able to identify areas with high pesticide use will help Iowa monitor those areas for health problems that are related to using pesticides. This may also help the Iowa Department of Public Health determine if education and intervention programs are needed or if new regulations or guidelines are needed for monitoring drinking wells.


Understanding the Relationships between Nitrates and Cancer

Farmland irrigation of crops

What is the problem?

Nitrate contamination of drinking water often is found in farming areas, usually from fertilizer runoff and human and animal waste. Some studies in Iowa have suggested a link between nitrate exposure and cancer.

What did Tracking do?

The Iowa Tracking Program will make private and public water supply data and cancer data available to explore possible links between nitrates in drinking water and cancer.

Improved public health

Being able to link water and cancer data may help show associations between health effects data and nitrate contamination data. Further scientific evidence will help to create nitrate management policies and public education materials.


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Page last reviewed: March 9, 2018