Improving Immunization Experiences through Aging and Disability Vaccination Collaborative

A positive vaccination experience is possible. 

The Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin (ASGW) not only believes this tenant to be true, but has been hard at work to improve vaccination support and accessibility across Greater Wisconsin since 2022. As a proud member of a nationwide coalition to rewrite the vaccine experience, ASGW is creating a path for increased vaccination rates for Autistic individuals and those with disabilities and complex support needs. 

May 2024 marked the final month of grant-funded work through USAging’s Aging and Disability Vaccination Collaborative (ADVC). The ADVC is an initiative funded by the U.S. Administration for Community Living to provide outreach, technical assistance, and support to promote vaccination uptake. Over the past year, the grant has allowed ASGW to make a difference throughout their 53-county service area by working towards the following goals:

    • Increase Vaccine Confidence
    • Promote Community Vaccine Education
    • Educate Healthcare Providers
    • Increase Accessibility of Vaccination

In 2023, grant funding allowed ASGW to continue their Sensory Friendly Vaccine Clinics facilitating the vaccination of 56 individuals at four clinics.

Expanding beyond the clinics, they also undertook new programming by educating healthcare providers and disseminating tools and resources to promote inclusion and accessibility throughout the community. One family shares their story of success with the tools implemented:

“Our son Spencer has struggled with doctor appointments ever since his Autism diagnosis at age two,” shares Katie, Sheboygan mom. “They are typically dreaded by everyone, especially Spencer. At his five year old check-up, we knew he would be receiving quite a few vaccinations, so I tried to prepare the nurses at Prevea Family Medicine as much as possible in order to make it a better experience for him. Much to our surprise, they came in with an Autism Society vaccine kit. This was the first time it was offered to us at an appointment. They used the Buzzy Bee to provide vibrations on his leg near the vaccine location and help distract him from the “poke.” We have never had an appointment go this well. Although Spencer still had some discomfort, the aftermath was short, and he was smiling again within less than a minute. I walked away from that appointment incredibly grateful for the staff at Prevea Family Medicine, as well as the Autism Society [of Greater Wisconsin], for making this experience a positive one. We will be requesting the Buzzy Bee at every appointment! Thank you to everyone involved in this initiative!”

The Buzzy Bee, a small vibrating device designed to help block sharp pain and provide distraction during medical procedures, is one of many additions healthcare providers across Wisconsin are making in their clinics to improve the vaccine experience. Through implementing the ADVC initiative, ASGW has built relationships with 24 collaborative partners across their service area, representing rural, urban, and suburban communities. These partners include hospitals, pharmacies, community clinics, health departments, and more. ASGW is empowering the community to broaden their reach by implementing accessible vaccination training sessions and providing vaccine support kits. 

Public health professionals across Greater Wisconsin report increased inclusion in their practice as a result of the education and resources provided by ASGW. “Through vaccine training for public health nurses, the Autism Society [of Greater Wisconsin]’s commitment to equity ensures that every voice is heard. By empowering nurses to reach those often overlooked, they widen the circle of protection, ensuring vaccines embrace all, leaving no one behind in the pursuit of health and well-being,” says Meghan Pauly, Public Health Nurse at the City of Menasha Health Department.

Further, Ann Hanson, Clinical Nurse Educator at Primary Care Associates of Appleton shares “Marin’s [Health Equity Project Coordinator] presentation to Primary Care Associates staff showed the passion and desire of the Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin to make access to healthcare and vaccines a predictable and positive experience for those with Autism or similar disabilities. As a parent of an adult with Autism, I can say this is long overdue.” 

Attendees of the training have not only acquired tools to create more positive experiences for their patients, but share that they feel more confident and empowered to serve a wider range of individuals, with Hanson sharing “…the strategies and supports gained from this information will help our child and countless others, not to mention the strain it takes off the staff providing vaccines. Thank you!”

ASGW extends our gratitude to the Autism Society of America and our funder, USAging, for their support of our participation in the Aging and Disability Vaccination Collaborative.

ASGW intends to continue our work in accessible healthcare by offering accessible vaccination trainings, sensory friendly vaccine kits, and resources and support for healthcare partners on a continuous basis. To become an Accessible Vaccine Partner, reach out to Marin McClowry at

L-R: Marin McClowry, Community Engagement Coordinator, speaking at Northeast Wisconsin Immunization Coalition Symposium; SSM Health Treffert Center team at Sensory Friendly Vaccine Clinic; City of Menasha Health Department with Vaccine Support Kits.


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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_single_image image="14341" img_size="full"][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_custom_heading text="From Eric Kissinger, Board President, ASGW Board...

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