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AETNA FOUNDATION, INC. FUNDS MOBILE IMMUNIZATION UNIT

 BALTIMORE, April 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Aetna Kids Express, the City Health Department's new mobile health unit, which will offer immunizations to children in under-served neighborhoods, was unveiled today in inaugural ceremonies held at Elwood Brown Park.
 Following the mid-day ceremonies the mobile health unit began vaccinating children against measles, mumps and rubella, Hib, (Haemophilus influenzae type b), diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, oral polio and Hepatitis B (for infants only) at My Sister's Place, a "drop- in" daytime shelter for homeless women and homeless women with children.
 The new van was named Aetna Kids Express in recognition of the Aetna Foundation grant of $100,000 to the City Health Department to prepare and equip the van. Kathleen M. Kelly, general manager of Aetna Health Plans, announced the grant and introduced the new unit to the press and the public with Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, Health Commissioner Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, and Dr. Nira R. Bonner, assistant commissioner for Child, Adolescent and Family Health.
 "This grant is part of a $15 million, five-year national health initiative launched by Aetna last year to help ensure that preschool children in this country receive all of their required immunizations," Ms. Kelly said, "In Baltimore and many other major metropolitan areas of the U.S., less than 50 percent of children under two receive all of their immunizations.
 "Aetna's goal," Ms. Kelly said, "is to help improve the U.S. immunization rate for American children under two years of age which lags behind virtually all other western nations. Even nations such as Cuba and Colombia have better vaccination rates than we do." Since Aetna began the program it has given more than $4 million dollars to immunization programs across the country.
 The Aetna Kids Express is staffed by the Health Department and receives additional staffing and support through a partnership with Families in Transition (FIT), a clinical pediatric program that serves homeless and near homeless families. FIT is a collaborative program of University of Maryland at Baltimore and Health Care for the Homeless, Inc. Initially the program will primarily provide immunizations with plans to expand with hearing, vision and developmental screening.
 In accepting the grant for the City, Mayor Schmoke said, "The Aetna Kids Express represents the kind of cooperation and shared concern between industry and government that is needed to solve the massive problem of providing quality health care to every American.
 "We are grateful for the grant from Aetna and look forward to a continuing cooperative effort in improving health care for the children and citizens of Baltimore," he added.
 -0- 4/29/93
 /CONTACT: Lisa M. Curran of Aetna, 203-273-2070/


CO: Aetna ST: Maryland IN: HEA SU:

LR-OS -- NY035 -- 2557 04/29/93 10:32 EDT
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Date:Apr 29, 1993
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