CDC Director’s Statement on Life of Betty Bumpers

Press Release

For Immediate Release: Saturday, December 1, 2018
Contact: CDC Media Relations
(404) 639-3286 

CDC today celebrates the life of one of the greatest heroes of public health America has ever known – Betty Bumpersexternal icon.

As First Lady of Arkansas, Mrs. Bumpers was shocked to learn that her state had one of the lowest childhood immunization rates in the Nation. Her “Every Child by ‘74” immunization campaign brought together partners from government, academia, and the private sector. Her state soon had one of the highest immunization rates in the United States.

The program was so successful that CDC used it as the model for a national immunization campaign.

During the Carter presidency, Mrs. Bumpers informed the President that only 17 states required immunization for school entry. Working with First Lady Rosalynn Carter, Mrs. Bumpers tirelessly campaigned in all states in one of the most successful public health campaigns in American history.

Eventually all states adopted this requirement. Because of Mrs. Bumpers’ efforts, more than 95 percent of American children today are protected against what once were the most dreaded childhood diseases.

We at CDC mourn the passing of this great American. Her accomplishments will continue to be an inspiration to everyone working in public health.

–Robert R. Redfield, MD, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Page last reviewed: December 1, 2018