Allison Hackbarth

With JSI since 2011

Senior Consultant

Allison Hackbarth

In your seven years at JSI, what projects have you worked on?

When I first started at JSI, I was mostly working on immunization-related projects that focused on workforce technical assistance (TA) and training to increase rates of adult vaccination. Before JSI, I worked at the MA Department of Public Health, Bureau of Infectious Disease for 15 years, so it was natural to continue working in the world of infectious diseases and immunization. Over time and thanks as well to JSI supporting staff to explore new topic areas, I have become much more involved in emergency preparedness initiatives and have worked on two recent projects focusing on ovarian cancer and palliative care (and continuing to support workforce development through TA and training).

Throughout your career, how have you seen work in immunization evolve and where do you see it going?

Child immunization, based on the mandatory childhood immunization schedule for school entry, is and will always be a priority. However, there is now an increased and specific focus on increasing rates of HPV vaccination among adolescents. There is an increased focus as well on adult vaccination as immunization rates have (depending on the vaccine) lagged behind or way behind childhood rates.

Additionally, the anti-vaccine movement has become prominent in the U.S. Individuals are deciding to not vaccinate themselves and/or their children based on incorrect information. This is a big problem.   

Allison fly fishing in Alaska several years ago

What do you think is one possible way to help overcome this challenge?

Giving people correct and understandable information, and dispelling/discrediting the information that isn’t!  

What initially attracted you to work in public health?

After college, I couldn’t decide between medicine and public health. So I joined the Peace Corps as a health extensionist. That experience made me certain that I wanted to pursue a public health degree.

Tell us something else about yourself that most people might not know about you.

I have traveled to a lot of different places and really want to learn another language. I recently took a 6-month leave in Mexico to learn Spanish. My plan is to be able to use Spanish as part of my job and to support Spanish-speaking refugees and immigrants in my community.  

A Project to Remember

Over the last several years, I have branched off to practice areas other than immunization. I recently worked on the palliative care capacity-building project – a collaboration with the Massachusetts Comprehensive Cancer Prevention and Control Network to increase access to palliative care services in the state. JSI conducted a gap analysis of services, promoted collaborative partnerships, conducted regional community assessments to develop a community-based model of palliative care, and provided TA to the palliative care workforce.  

I learned a tremendous amount about palliative care, what it can offer to improve the quality of life by preventing and relieving suffering, and the interrelationships of physical, psychosocial, and spiritual care. As I think about myself getting older, I am much more clear about what is important to me in my final stages of life and how I can make that happen. This project became very meaningful to me in a way I didn’t expect.  

One Response to Allison Hackbarth

  1. Francis Peter Phiri says:

    That is great to know and continue to inspire a lot of us

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