Every year people around the world work to study, track, and prevent flu. This page profiles some of these flu fighters and the work they are doing to contribute to flu prevention in the U.S. and around the world!
Dr. John Barnes
Meet flu fighter Dr. John Barnes, microbiologist and team lead for CDC’s Influenza Genomics team. In a world where influenza (flu) viruses are constantly changing and evolving, this team examines (sequences) the genomes of thousands of influenza viruses a year. “Flu is both a fascinating and frustrating virus to study,” says Dr. Barnes. “Influenza viruses have a unique ability to move through genetic space very quickly. Every week, there is a new ‘curveball’ that could literally leave us looking at changes in the viruses that we have never seen before.”
CDR Lisa Delaney, director, Emergency Response and Preparedness Office (EPRO), NIOSH
Meet flu fighter Lisa Delaney, director of the Emergency Response and Preparedness Office at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Delaney, leads the NIOSH team focused on ensuring businesses understand the impact of seasonal flu and how they can play a role in lessening the spread of flu in the workplace. “It is important to remind employers every year that they can play an important role in preventing flu, helping to protect employees’ health and reducing losses in productivity and revenue,” says Delaney.
Lynnette Brammer, MPH, team lead of the Domestic Influenza Surveillance team
Meet flu fighter Lynnette Brammer, team lead of CDC’s Domestic Influenza Surveillance team, which is responsible for collecting, analyzing and publishing a weekly report on the impact flu is having across the U.S. This information helps inform efforts to protect the public’s health. According to Mrs. Brammer, there is no good flu season, just different degrees of bad.
Beth Neuhaus, PhD, associate director of informatics, CDC Influenza Division
Meet flu fighter Dr. Beth Neuhaus, associate director of informatics in CDC’s Influenza Division. Dr. Neuhaus provides tireless and innovative leadership for a variety of informatics and advanced computer technology projects. She oversees how laboratory data from thousands of flu virus specimens are managed, shared and used to give us deeper insight into flu. Dr. Neuhaus and her team take the large amounts of detailed data collected in CDC’s laboratories and translate it into usable information that informs decisions on protecting the public’s health from the spread of seasonal and novel influenza viruses.
Xiyan Xu, MD, MS, team lead of CDC Influenza Division Virus Reference team
Meet flu fighter Dr. Xiyan Xu, lead of Virus Reference team in the Virology, Surveillance and Diagnosis branch within the Influenza division. Dr. Xu also serves as the deputy director of the Atlanta-based Collaborating Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Control of Influenza, one of six World Health Organization influenza collaborating centers and the largest source of information on human influenza viruses worldwide.
Dan Jernigan, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s Influenza Division
Meet flu fighter Dr. Daniel Jernigan, director of CDC’s Influenza Division. Dr. Jernigan brings high levels of energy and commitment to CDC’s Influenza Division. These characteristics inform the way his teams operate on a daily basis. At the heart of all of CDC’s influenza work is the drive to make meaningful contributions that can protect the public’s health from flu. There also is a spirit of science-based innovation—seen in the transformative innovations of CDC’s surveillance, laboratory, and pandemic preparedness work. Dr. Jernigan leads CDC’s effort in understanding and detecting flu in an effort to stay one step ahead of it.
Traci Gonzales, APRN, PNP-C, AE-C
Meet flu fighter Traci Gonzales, a pediatric nurse practitioner at the McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in Houston. She leads a team of providers who do pulmonary testing on pediatric patients. Her passion is working with children with complex medical needs, both for their primary care and pulmonary conditions. She understands how devastating flu can be for children, especially those with certain underlying health issues. Therefore, she enthusiastically recommends that all her patients and their loved ones receive a flu vaccine each year.
MeiLan K. Han, MD, MS
Meet flu fighter Dr. MeiLan K. Han, professor of internal medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Michigan Health System and director of the Michigan Airways Program. Her research focuses on COPD, and she is a strong advocate of flu and pneumonia vaccination in her older patients. She understands that older patients and those with chronic health problems are at higher risk for complications from the flu, and she is dedicated to educating her patients about those risks.
Lacey Eden, MS, FNP-C
Meet flu fighter Lacey Eden, an assistant teaching professor at Brigham Young University. She is a family nurse practitioner at a pediatric outpatient clinic in Provo, Utah. In her work, she dedicates much of her time to educating her patients, their parents, and her co-workers on the importance of vaccines. She created a mobile application called “Best for Baby” in order to help parents track their child’s upcoming developmental milestones and vaccinations.
Margot Savoy, MD, MPH
Meet flu fighter Dr. Margot Savoy, professor and chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University. She is a leader in the medical field, and has been recognized by several professional organizations for her work. Dr. Savoy works to make getting a flu vaccine an easy choice for all her patients, and finds joy in educating her community.
Sandra Leal, PharmD, MPH, FAPhA, CDE
Meet influenza (flu) fighter Dr. Sandra Leal. Dr. Leal is a pharmacist, Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), and chief operating officer at SinfoníaRx, a national provider of Medication Therapy Management (MTM) services based in Tucson, Arizona. She also serves on the board of trustees for the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and as board chair for the National Center for Farmworker Health. She has received many accolades for her work with medically underserved Hispanic and American Indian populations in her region. Dr. Leal is dedicated to improving patient safety and health outcomes for her patients. She works hard to increase access to preventative health services, including flu vaccines.
Peter Shult, PhD
Meet influenza (flu) fighter Dr. Peter Shult, associate director of the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene and director of its Communicable Disease Division and Emergency Response. The state public health lab, located at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is one of the country’s three National Influenza Reference Centers, or NIRCs, which serve as extensions of the Virus Surveillance and Diagnosis Branch in CDC’s Influenza Division and as critical components of the nation’s flu surveillance and pandemic readiness systems.
Laura E. Riley, MD
Meet flu fighter Dr. Laura E. Riley, an obstetrician who has delivered thousands of babies and works directly with mothers to guide them through their pregnancy, providing support to ensure that mothers and their babies are healthy. She says her motivation to fight flu comes from her desire to protect her patients and family. “What I tell my patients is that it’s really important not to get the flu during pregnancy,” says Dr. Riley. She reminds patients that flu can lead to serious complications in pregnant women and that a flu shot is the best available protection for mothers and their babies.
Aisha Bhatti, BPharm, PharmD, RPh
Dr. Aisha Bhatti is a pharmacist and independent pharmacy owner. Her mission is to advocate for and promote the importance of vaccinations and the flu vaccine within the community. She is particularly involved in and passionate about ensuring that underserved areas, the uninsured, underinsured, ethnic minorities and often neglected communities have access to education about the flu vaccine and understand the significant role it plays in contributing to good health, as well as healthy communities at large.
Lori Boyle, MSN, AGPCNP – BC, WCC, CWS
Meet flu fighter Lori Boyle, a nurse practitioner certified in adult/geriatric primary care and wound care, and Nurses Who Vaccinateexternal icon member. Boyle is a self- proclaimed geek. Give her a good peer reviewed study and a movie with superheroes, lasers or dragons and she’s a happy girl. Boyle has made it her mission to increase flu vaccination among the healthcare workers. She finds that education with a bit of silliness goes a long way to increase understanding about the seriousness of flu and the importance of flu vaccination.
Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson
Meet flu fighter Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson. Dr. Swanson is a pediatrician, blogger, media contributor, and vaccine advocate working to build trust with the public around the flu vaccine. Dr. Swanson educates parents on the importance of getting a flu vaccine for their children, dispelling myths and helping parents make healthy choices for their kids.
Hank Bernstein, DO, MHCM, FAAP
Meet flu fighter Dr. Hank Bernstein, Professor of Pediatrics at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. Dr. Bernstein has advocated tirelessly for everyone to get vaccinated against seasonal flu on an annual basis. Dr. Bernstein is a trusted subject matter expert for all of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)external icon influenza-related work. Dr. Bernstein shares, “the most rewarding part of my work has been educating patients, parents, families, and health professionals about the flu.”
Jasmine MSN, RN
Meet flu fighter Jasmine a clinical nurse providing care to critically ill children and support to patients’ families during the most difficult times in their lives. Beyond providing treatments to her patients, Jasmine is committed to preventing flu and its spread in the hospital by getting an annual flu vaccine and practicing proper hand hygiene and isolation techniques.
Walter A. Orenstein, MD
As President of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseasesexternal icon (NFID), Walter A. Orenstein, MD helps lead efforts to provide education about the causes, prevention, and treatment of infectious diseases across the lifespan, including influenza (flu). “Flu is a serious illness that can lead to pneumonia, hospitalization, and even death, among other complications. The best way of avoiding both the illness and its complications is through annual vaccination,” says Dr. Orenstein.
Meet flu fighter Bethany Drapeau from Wagner, South Dakota, who lost her young daughter, Amiah, to flu in April 2017. Amiah was not vaccinated against the flu and Bethany now realizes that annual flu vaccination can significantly reduce a child’s chance of flu-related hospitalization and death. She now makes a point to educate her family, friends, and community about the seriousness of flu and the critical importance of annual flu vaccination for everyone, including healthy children and adults.
Meet flu fighter Donna Greyerbiehl of Ann Arbor, Michigan. For Donna, flu season is an especially scary time of year. Donna has a primary immunodeficiency disease called common variable immune deficiency (CVID). People with this disease have low levels of antibodies making it difficult to fight off germs like flu viruses. Compared to the general population, patients living with CVID and other diseases that can result in a weakened immune system are at an increased risk during flu season.
Meet flu fighter, Henry Lin, a retired Navy veteran and bariatric surgeon at Eastern Maine Medical Center, who lost his seven-year-old son, Trevor, to flu in November 2009 during the H1N1 pandemic. In Trevor’s honor, Henry shares his family’s story with others to help illustrate the potential dangers of flu and the importance of vaccination. He is also working with colleagues to help improve health care guidelines for treatment of children with flu in an effort to help prevent other families from experiencing a similar tragedy.
Meet flu fighter Serese Marotta, who has made it her life’s work to educate others about the dangers of flu and the importance of annual flu vaccination following the loss of her healthy five-year-old son, Joseph, to flu in October 2009 during the H1N1 pandemic. She currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Families Fighting Fluexternal icon, an organization dedicated to saving lives and reducing hospitalizations by protecting all children and their families against influenza. Through sharing her son’s story and her work on behalf of Families Fighting Flu, Serese hopes that others will realize that it’s not “just the flu”.
Meet flu fighter Chris Miller from Westfield, New Jersey, whose family was significantly impacted following his daughter, Caroline’s, flu-related hospitalization in December 2013. While Caroline was hospitalized, Chris made a promise to help make sure no other family has to experience the potential loss of a child to flu. He and his family now share their story to illustrate the seriousness of flu and help raise awareness by working with Families Fighting Fluexternal icon.
Meet flu fighter JoJo O’Neal, a radio host in Orlando. Diagnosed with asthma in 2004, her mission is to educate people about asthma and help patients learn how to breathe and live better with the condition, which includes getting an annual flu shot. In 2018 the flu knocked her out of action twice in one year, and she learned that asthma and the flu can be a dangerous combination. Now JoJo is working with the American Lung Association as a spokesperson for the MyShot campaign, educating adults 50 years of age and older about the importance of an annual flu vaccine.
Meet flu fighter Jim Piette, a woodworker, Midwestern dad and grandad. Fishing and hunting remained big parts of Jim’s life following his COPD diagnosis, but everything changed when he came down with the flu. He was home for five weeks, didn’t eat because he couldn’t breathe, became extremely weak and lost 35 pounds. He always had trouble breathing, but now he can’t do much without running out of air. This is why Jim is working with the American Lung Association as a spokesperson for the MyShot campaign, which educates adults 50 years of age and older about the potential complications from flu.
Meet flu fighter Gary Stein from Falls Church, Virginia, who after losing his four-year-old daughter, Jessica, to flu in February 2002, helped form Families Fighting Fluexternal icon in an effort to raise awareness about the seriousness of flu and the importance of annual flu vaccination. In 2002, annual flu vaccination was not recommended for healthy children of Jessica’s age. Gary’s advocacy, along with the help of the Families Fighting Flu organization and others, eventually led to the successful change in recommendation that now includes everyone six months and older.
Meet flu fighter Angie Wehrkamp from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, who lost her healthy, two-year-old daughter, Gianna, to flu in January 2015. She never realized how dangerous flu could be and now works to raise awareness about the importance of annual flu vaccination through her work with the Sioux Falls Immunization Coalition, Families Fighting Fluexternal icon, and her personal project Gianna’s Trees. Angie hopes that by sharing her story she can help prevent others from experiencing a similar tragedy.
Are you a flu fighter, or know someone who is? Share your own flu fighter profiles online or social media. Here’s how:
- Pick 1-3 images demonstrating your work as a flu fighter.
- Write a 2-4 sentence post about why you fight flu.
- Share these images and message on social media!
Be sure to include the hashtag #WhyIFightFlu or #FightFlu and tag @CDCFlu in your post!