Flu Fighters

Meet our Flu Fighters

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!

Racial and Ethnic Approaches to
Community Health (REACH)Awardees

Lee Itule-Klasen and Indira Arce

Flu Fighters Lee Itule-Klasen and Indira Arce

Meet flu fighters Lee Itule-Klasen and Indira Arce from Pima County, Arizona. Lee is a program manager and Indira is a senior evaluation specialist for the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health’s (REACH’s) Flu Awareness and Outreach Program at the Pima County Health Department (PCHD). Through REACH, Lee and Indira have been dedicating themselves to improving the health and lives of the different communities and populations in Pima County, specifically Native American and Latinx, by building relationships, providing health education and resources, and conducting outreach to increase access to flu vaccinations.

Bernard Macklin, B.A. and Sarah Gordon, M.A.

Flu Fighters Bernard Macklin and Sarah Gordon

Meet flu fighters Bernard Macklin and Sarah Gordon. Macklin is a flu vaccination outreach coordinator and Gordon is health communications lead for Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) Program at the Community Alliance for Research & Engagement (CARE). With over 20 years’ experience in his field, Macklin has completed an admirable amount of work as part of the CARE Flu Supplement program, where his work focuses on getting people vaccinated. Gordon’s outreach work focuses on creating culturally relevant messages with resonance to the community and having continued message feedback from community members.

Bob Rauner, MD, MPH

Dr. Bob Rauner, Flu Fighter

Meet Dr. Bob Rauner, the president of Partnership for a Healthy Lincolnexternal icon, a local non-profit whose mission is to improve the health of communities, thousands of people at a time. He earned a medical degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center and a master’s degree in public health at Johns Hopkins University, where he studied how to systematically improve the health of Nebraskans.

Jennifer Kraschnewski, MD and Andrea Murray

Flu Fighters Jennifer Kraschnewski, MD and Andrea Murray

Meet flu fighters Jennifer Kraschnewski and Andrea Murray. Jennifer and Andrea facilitate the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program at the Pennsylvania State University Hershey Medical Center. Their REACH programexternal icon actively engages members of the community to plan and carry out proven strategies that are culturally appropriate to prevent chronic diseases, promote healthy behaviors and address the root causes of racial and ethnic health disparities.

Elia Medina, Monica Parra, Emily Piltch

Flu Fighters Elia Medina, Monica Parra, Emily Piltch

Meet flu fighters Elia Medina, Monica Parra and Emily Piltch. Elia, Monica and Emily facilitate a wide array of public health projects made possible through a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant. Emily, with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), is the program manager at the state level, and Elia and Monica facilitate the program in Madera County and Merced County, respectively.

Flu Fighter: Na’Sha DeRamus

Na'Sha flu fighter

Meet flu fighter Na’Sha DeRamus from Billingsley, Alabama. Na’sha is the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) flu vaccination promotion coordinator at The Wellness Coalition in Montgomery, Alabama. Na’Sha and her team educate and promote the importance of getting the influenza vaccine to combat flu complications among African American persons with both low income and low education in the census tracts they serve.

Flu Fighters: Hannah E Hardy and Dr Evangel Sarwar

Hannah Hardy, Dr. Evangel Sarwar PhD, MPH

Meet the Flu Fighters at the Allegheny County Health Department who are working to make flu vaccines more accessible in their community. Workers at the Health Department, led by Hannah E. Hardy and Evangel Sarwar, have been working in part through CDC’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health, or REACH program, to close the gap in health disparities among the different racial and ethnic groups in this Southwestern Pennsylvania county.

Flu Fighter: Dr. Tsu-Yin Wu

Flu Fighter Dr. Tsu-Yin Wu

Meet Flu Fighter Tsu-Yin Wu, director of the Eastern Michigan University Center for Health Disparities Innovation and Studies (CHDIS). There, Dr. Wu and her team work to overcome disparities in health care, including cultural, language, and systematic barriers to accessing health care and preventive services.

CDC Flu Fighters

Dr. John Barnes

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

CDR Lisa Delaney

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

Flu Fighter: Lynnette Brammer

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

Flu Fighter: Beth Neuhaus

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

Xiyan Xu

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.

CDC Pandemic Flu Fighters

Amra Uzicanin, MD, MPH, Team Lead, CDC’s Community Interventions for Infection Control Unit

Dr. Jernigan receives the flu vaccine

As Lead of CDC’s Community Interventions for Infection Control Unit (CI-ICU), Dr. Amra Uzicanin is dedicated to developing the scientific evidence base and policies for use of nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), for infectious disease control in community settings with a focus on pandemic flu. NPIs, also known as community mitigation measures, are the first line of defense to help slow the spread of pandemic influenza (flu). NPIs are readily available everywhere and can be used before a pandemic vaccine is available. CI-ICU works hard to prevent and reduce the spread of infectious diseases in communities by empowering people and communities to take action grounded in evidence-based knowledge of NPIs. Dr. Uzicanin says the 1918 flu pandemic “was a pandemic where ordinary people and communities as well as government authorities, public health officials, and healthcare professionals were striving to find new ways to fight off the flu and prevent its impact worldwide.”

Anita Patel, PharmD, MS, Team Lead, CDC’s Pandemic Medical Care and Countermeasures

Dr. Jernigan receives the flu vaccine

Dr. Anita Patel is one of CDC’s key problem solvers working to protect the United States from a future influenza pandemic. Her responsibilities include making sure the nation has strategies in place for medical countermeasures to be able to treat sick patients and protect health care workers. Dr. Patel says the 1918 flu pandemic is a sobering reminder of the dangers of flu. “Learning from history allows us to plan for the possible range of impacts, and move the needle in preparedness.”

Anne Schuchat, MD (RADM, USPHS) CDC Principal Deputy Director

Dr. Jernigan receives the flu vaccine

Principal Deputy Director of CDC, Dr. Anne Schuchat, is one of the many veterans of CDC’s fight on flu. Combatting influenza is a hallmark of Dr. Schuchat’s 30 years at CDC. In reflecting on the 1918 influenza pandemic, Dr. Schuchat says studying what happened can help us to better prepare the nation and the world for similar scenarios in the future.

Daniel Jernigan, MD, MPH (CAPT, USPHS), Director, Influenza Division

Dr. Jernigan receives the flu vaccine

Dr. Dan Jernigan, a captain in the United States Public Health Service (USPHS), serves as director of the Influenza Division in CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. In this role, Jernigan is always working to prepare for the next influenza pandemic. “We are determined to intervene where we can to stop the spread of disease—that’s public health,” he says. For CDC’s Influenza Division, stopping the spread of disease means, “tracking influenza viruses and human illness with influenza viruses worldwide – be it from seasonal, avian, swine, or other novel flu viruses. We track illness, study the virus, assess the risk posed by the virus, make vaccine viruses that are then used to manufacture flu vaccines and help make policies for influenza prevention and treatment.”

James Stevens, Ph.D., Associate Director, Laboratory Sciences in CDC’s Influenza Division

Dr. Jernigan receives the flu vaccine

CDC’s influenza laboratories play a leading role in the ongoing global task of looking for new flu viruses, assessing the risk they pose to people, and supporting efforts to proactively prepare for the emergence of flu viruses considered to have pandemic potential. This includes everything from conducting surveillance on novel influenza viruses, to developing the viruses that are used to mass-produce flu vaccines, which are called “candidate vaccine viruses” or “CVVs”.  As Associate Director for Laboratory Sciences in CDC’s Influenza Division, Dr. James Stevens oversees and coordinates CDC’s influenza laboratory operations. He says the 1918 flu pandemic “is the deadliest we’ve seen in modern times. We have to remember it because it is the worst-case scenario situation, and we don’t want it to happen again.”

Martin Cetron, MD, Director, Division of Global Migration and Quarantine (DGMQ)

Dr. Jernigan receives the flu vaccine

Air travel today can easily facilitate the spread of diseases around the world with each flight. CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine (DGMQ) helps protect the health of our communities in a globally mobile world. As director of DGMQ, Dr. Martin (Marty) Cetron is a leader in global health and migration with a focus on emerging infections, tropical diseases, and vaccine-preventable diseases in mobile populations. He says the 1918 influenza (flu) pandemic was “monumental, and as an unprecedented event in human history, it taught us some really important lessons.

Stephen Redd, MD (RADM, USPHS) Director, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response

Dr. Jernigan receives the flu vaccine

CDC’s Dr. Stephen Redd has deep and diverse experiences in responding to public health emergencies, including the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic during which he served as incident commander for the CDC’s response.  For the past four years, Dr. Redd has directed CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, the group responsible for ensuring CDC is prepared to respond to a public health emergency.

Terrence Tumpey, Ph.D., Chief, Influenza Immunology and Pathogenesis Branch

Dr. Jernigan receives the flu vaccine

Dr. Terrence Tumpey is a microbiologist and chief of the Immunology and Pathogenesis Branch (IPB) in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Influenza Division. He’s perhaps best known for his groundbreaking work reconstructing the 1918 pandemic influenza virusexternal icon. In 1918, this virus was responsible for the pandemic that is estimated to have killed at least 50 million people worldwide. In 2004, Dr. Tumpey was the first to physically reconstruct, or “rescue” the 1918 virus, using reverse genetics to build an H1N1 virus with all the same genes as the pandemic virus. After the reconstruction was completed, Dr. Tumpey was the first person to study the live 1918 H1N1 virus in the laboratory.

Flu Fighters – HCP Profiles

Traci Gonzales, APRN, PNP-C, AE-C

Traci Gonzales, Flu Fighter

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

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

MeiLan K. Han, MD, MS

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

MeiLan K. Han, MD, MS

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

MeiLan K. Han, MD, MS

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

MeiLan K. Han, MD, MS

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

MeiLan K. Han, MD, MS

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

MeiLan K. Han, MD, MS

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

MeiLan K. Han, MD, MS

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

MeiLan K. Han, MD, MS

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

MeiLan K. Han, MD, MS

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

MeiLan K. Han, MD, MS

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

MeiLan K. Han, MD, MS

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.

Flu Fighter Public Profiles

Bethany Drapeau

MeiLan K. Han, MD, MS

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.

Donna Greyerbiehl

MeiLan K. Han, MD, MS

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.

Reverend Dr. Terris A. King

Dr. Terris A. King

Meet flu fighter, Rev. Dr. Terris King, a retired 30-year government health care worker and a pastor at a church in Baltimore with over 300 congregants. He’s helping lead a coalition to inform and educate Baltimore’s African American residents about the importance of getting a flu shot. The Rev. Dr. King, along with others, started a program that makes vaccination easily accessible at churches to make it as simple as possible for people in the community to get vaccinated.

Henry Lin

MeiLan K. Han, MD, MS

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.

Serese Marotta

MeiLan K. Han, MD, MS

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”.

Chris Miller

MeiLan K. Han, MD, MS

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.

JoJo O’Neal

MeiLan K. Han, MD, MS

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.

Jim Piette

MeiLan K. Han, MD, MS

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.

Gary Stein

MeiLan K. Han, MD, MS

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.

Angie Wehrkamp

MeiLan K. Han, MD, MS

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.

Highlight Your Own Flu Fighter!

Are you a flu fighter, or know someone who is? Share your own flu fighter profiles online or social media. Here’s how:

  1. Pick 1-3 images demonstrating your work as a flu fighter.
  2. Write a 2-4 sentence post about why you fight flu.
  3. Share these images and message on social media!

Be sure to include the hashtag #WhyIFightFlu or #FightFlu and tag @CDCFlu in your post!