2012 Champion Award Winners
February 8, 2013: Content on this page kept for historical reasons
The CDC Childhood Immunization Awards, 2012
The CDC Childhood Immunization Champion Award, given jointly by the CDC and the CDC Foundationexternal icon, honors individuals who are doing an exemplary job or going above and beyond to promote or foster childhood immunizations in their communities.
2012 Award Winners
In 2012, 39 individuals were honored as CDC Childhood Immunization Champions.
Click a letter and select a state to see that state’s awardee. (Note that some states did not participate this year.)
Tim Stewart, MD
Huntsville Pediatric Associates
In Huntsville, Alabama, it is no secret that Dr. Tim Stewart is continuously seeking new ways to increase area immunization rates—both through immunization strategies within his practice at Huntsville Pediatric Associates and through advocacy and education among his peers.
In response to a high percentage of pertussis cases in Alabama among people 18 years of age and older, Dr. Stewart began using the Tdap vaccine to vaccinate parents, grandparents, and other caregivers in an effort to stop the spread of pertussis to infants and children in the household. Additionally, he encourages annual influenza vaccinations for all of his patients.
Dr. Stewart also educates his colleagues about the importance and benefits of immunization. He currently serves as the area representative to the Executive Board for the Alabama Chapter of the AAP. In this capacity his focus is on advocating for following the recommended schedule for infants and adolescents and encouraging physicians throughout Alabama to increase adolescent coverage rates by simultaneously vaccinating with Tdap, meningococcal, and HPV vaccines. He also advises physicians in private practice on immunization recommendations through American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)-sponsored webinars. Additionally, Dr. Stewart has served on a panel at the Alabama Chapter-AAP Immunization Financing Congress, which draws together pediatricians, state public health leaders, and national leaders of pediatric policy to address the challenges of state-level financing, vaccine awareness, and improving vaccination rates for children in Alabama.
For his expertise and action-oriented work ethic, Dr. Stewart is a CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Bruce Chandler, MD, MPH
Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center
Awareness is often half the battle. That’s why, for more than a decade, Dr. Bruce Chandler, a pediatrician in Alaska’s largest city, has composed and distributed via email a weekly digital publication that includes the most current vaccine information and recommendations for childhood immunization, along with his personal message “Keep Vaccinating.” This cutting-edge e-newsletter is highly regarded and widely shared among more than 300 other Alaskan pediatricians, health care professionals, and policy makers. For the past 20 years, Dr. Chandler has worked vigorously in other ways to provide leadership to his peers on immunization issues. He has served on several committees; assisted in training new physicians; and educated medical school students through the University of Washington/ WWAMI, a collaborative medical school among universities in Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho.
In addition, Dr. Chandler promotes immunization and seeks to increase rates and bridge gaps in his role as a pediatrician at The Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center, a clinic offering care to underserved populations in Anchorage. He also serves as the Medical Officer for the Municipality of Anchorage, Department of Health and Human Services, a role he has filled since 1995. As such, Dr. Chandler and his team manage and investigate disease outbreaks in the community, while working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide immunization for both children and adults in Alaska. Dr. Chandler also provides oversight to the Anchorage School District Health Services program on immunizations.
Dr. Chandler’s continued determination to educate his community about immunization, while increasing rates among populations shouldering the greatest health burden, make him a CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
National Meningitis Association
Leslie Maier’s passionate advocacy for the meningococcal vaccine stems from a personal tragedy she hopes other parents never have to face. Ms. Maier’s son, Chris, was a healthy, 17 year-old high school senior when he suddenly became ill with bacterial meningitis. He died within 18 hours of showing the first symptoms of illness. After losing her son to this vaccine-preventable disease, Ms. Maier was determined to do everything in her power to help keep other families from experiencing the same heart-breaking loss. She immediately joined the National Meningitis Association’s “Moms on Meningitis” and later was elected a board member in 2006.
Ms. Maier developed educational materials on the dangers of meningitis and prevention methods. She used her connections as a kindergarten teacher to distribute these materials to local schools in Tucson, but she didn’t stop there. In 2007, Ms. Maier advocated for a school meningitis requirement in Arizona. She met with officials at the Arizona Department of Health Services, presented at panels and hearings, and followed the proposed vaccine-rule amendment through to its approval.
As a result of Ms. Maier’s persistence, the amendment for adding meningococcal and Tdap vaccines to Arizona school immunization requirements went into effect in January 2008. Once the law was passed, Ms. Maier kept up her efforts to routinely educate parents, school personnel, and health care providers about the importance of vaccination. She also co-authored an article for the Kappa Key, a national sorority publication, in which she reflected on her experience of losing a son to meningitis.
It is Leslie Maier’s ongoing mission to promote meningitis awareness that makes her Arizona’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Richard Jacobs, MD, FAAP
Arkansas Children’s Hospital
Little Rock, AR
Not many people can claim to have worked with former First Lady Hillary Clinton to help increase immunization rates: Dr. Richard Jacobs is one of them. Back when Mrs. Clinton was the First Lady of Arkansas, and Dr. Jacobs was the acting chair of the Arkansas Immunization Task Force, they collaborated on securing Hib vaccine for all Arkansas children a year before receiving proposed funding from the federal government. Dr. Jacobs has dedicated a large amount of time to increasing Hib immunization coverage in order to keep Arkansas’s children safe from this disease.
In 2000, Dr. Jacobs drew upon his experience leading the Arkansas Immunization Task Force to launch the Vaccine Medical Advisory Committee (VMAC), a platform for improved communication between all immunization stakeholders including the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), Medicaid, research and advocacy, and other groups. While VMAC’s chairperson, Dr. Jacobs made it a priority to facilitate school-based influenza vaccination clinics; educate and communicate with stakeholders; train pediatricians and family physicians on how to overcome immunization challenges; and work with the state’s health department to publish key immunization findings, such as exemption rates. In fact, Dr. Jacobs assisted members of the state legislature in understanding proposed revisions to the state’s immunization exemption law. Dr. Jacobs also played an instrumental role in the creation of the Arkansas State Immunization Registry, helping broker the deal between the ADH and Medicaid.
For his decades-long dedication to improving immunization in Arkansas, Dr. Jacobs has earned recognition as a CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Albert Arteaga, MD
LaSalle Medical Associates
San Bernardino, CA
Leading by example is what Dr. Albert Arteaga aspires to and also advocates to his staff and others. That’s why, as president of LaSalle Medical Associates—which operates four clinics in the San Bernadino, California, area—he strongly encourages his staff and peers to get immunized to serve as an example to patients. It is likely one of the reasons why his clinics showcase an impressive 91% flu immunization coverage rate.
In particular, Dr. Arteaga strives to provide minority populations with immunization and other information that will help bridge gaps in health care. Recently, through his partnership with the Inland Empire African American Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Arteaga sponsored a series of public service announcements (PSAs) for local radio stations. The PSAs promoted flu immunization in both English and Spanish.
Dr. Arteaga has committed to working closely with the Latino community while serving as president of the Latino Health Collaborative. In recognition of his hard work, Dr. Arteaga was named one of the top 15 Latino business owners in the Inland Empire by Hispanic Lifestyle magazine. His LaSalle clinics were also recognized as a “model provider” for black health care in San Bernardino County.
In addition, Dr. Arteaga produces a quarterly patient newsletter, which provides insight on childhood immunizations and discredits vaccination myths.
For upholding high immunization standards and making a difference among disparate populations, Dr. Arteaga is California’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Robert Brayden, MD
Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition
As co-chair of the Vaccine Advisory Committee for Colorado (VACC), Dr. Robert Brayden played a key role in the success of the Immunize for Good campaign and the Immunization Essentials for Health Care Professionals Education Series, two projects specifically created in response to a 2006 commitment by former Colorado Governor, Bill Ritter, to vaccinate at least 80% of the state’s 0- to 35-month-olds. A partnership between the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition (CCIC), and the VACC is moving toward this goal with Dr. Brayden’s assistance in providing vaccination education, resources for clinicians who provide vaccines, and guidance for parents.
One of the most popular vaccination resources introduced by Dr. Brayden as the acting president of the CCIC is a pocket-sized immunization schedule. These schedules were created and distributed to thousands of Colorado health care providers. The small laminated cards conveniently outline screening recommendations for childhood and adolescent immunizations and are regarded as a valuable resource to help clinicians avoid immunization errors or missed opportunities. In addition, over the past four years, Dr. Brayden has delivered more than 40 web-based and in-person educational seminars on immunization to more than 1,500 health care professionals in the Rocky Mountain Region.
Last but certainly not least, for the past 20 years, Dr. Brayden has created greater awareness of vaccine benefits and safety in Colorado by advocating for immunization policy advancements, publishing journal articles on immunization, and participating on various boards, all in an effort to increase the number of children who are protected against potentially deadly diseases.
For his decades of commitment and tireless effort, CDC is honored to name Dr. Brayden a Childhood Immunization Champion.
Julia Pillsbury, DO, FAAP, FACOP
The Center for Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine
When several physicians’ offices in Delaware stopped offering vaccination to their patients because they weren’t being reimbursed for the full cost of the vaccines, Dr. Julia Pillsbury singlehandedly developed a creative strategy to convince insurance companies that enhanced reimbursement was critical to protecting the children of the state. Her strategy has resulted in more practitioners in Delaware being able to provide vaccinations since reimbursement now keeps pace with vaccine costs.
Dr. Pillsbury’s efforts did not stop there. She collaborated with the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics to develop new current procedural terminology (CPT) codes, which health care providers assign to their patients for different medical services, and insurers use to determine the amount of reimbursement a practitioner receives. She then traveled throughout the state to educate Delaware physicians and their teams about the new codes.
Dr. Pillsbury is the former president of the Delaware AAP Chapter and still serves on its committee as well as others, including Delaware state health committees and public health committees on the federal level. She spends a great deal of time delivering presentations on topics such as the new HPV vaccine and the importance of adolescents’ receiving their Tdap booster at age 11, striving to educate local physicians on new vaccine information and administration. In 2007, her practice in Dover, The Center for Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, was recognized by Delaware’s Immunization Coalition and Immunization Program with a best practices award.
Dr. Pillsbury’s hard work has certainly paid off. Ensuring that Delaware practices properly vaccinate all children who need protection and that vaccine providers are justly reimbursed, Dr. Pillsbury represents a commendable Childhood Immunization Champion.
Taia Shabazz, RN, BSN, MSN
Unity Health Care, Inc.
Eager to reduce vaccine waste at Unity Health Centers (UHC) in Washington, DC, Taia Shabazz, a registered nurse who manages several UHC sites, launched an effort to rapidly integrate strategies for decreasing waste by more than 90%, while at the same time lowering costs by more than 85%. She did this by recognizing that proper management of vaccines would lead to reduced vaccine loss and ultimately ensure that more children have better access to immunizations. To reach these goals, Ms. Shabazz worked diligently with the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program staff, health center managers, and nurse managers at UHC to study outcomes and potential causes of waste and to encourage vital changes across UHC’s multiple facilities.
Ms. Shabazz also played a key role in connecting UHC’s Medical Director of Pediatrics with the VFC program staff through facilitated meetings that addressed various center concerns and specific tasks related to childhood immunization.
A talented coordinator, Ms. Shabazz also worked on other fronts to promote vaccination by organizing provider trainings, developing internal and external communication for the organization, and creating a resource-sharing environment at UHC, making it easier for nurse managers to access center-wide information. These multiple efforts have led to an increase in the number of UHC patients being vaccinated thanks to increased awareness of vaccination, and as a result, a growing number of opportunities to vaccinate at several UHC sites.
Ms. Shabazz’s keen organizational insights and efforts to reduce vaccine waste and program costs—which have helped to vaccinate more UHC patients in the Washington, DC, area—make her a worthy CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Parker Small, MD
University of Florida College of Medicine, Emerging Pathogens Institute
During the 1980s, Dr. Parker Small was the mastermind behind the Patient Oriented Problem Solving (POPS) system for teaching immunology, which emphasizes the basic principles of immunization. Dr. Small ’s unrivaled system was adopted by nearly half of the medical schools in the U.S. and has played a major role in educating medical students about immunization. POPS is still currently in use at several medical schools nationwide.
Dr. Small is a vocal supporter of fair and full vaccination for all children, whether through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program or private insurers. In an effort to increase vaccine rates among middle and elementary school students, Dr. Small served as the driving force behind the Alachua County, Florida, school-located influenza vaccination (SLIV) program.
In 2006, through SLIV, Dr. Small worked closely with the Alachua County Health Department Administrator and the local school system to immunize 25% of the county’s public and private preschool, elementary, and middle school students. Dr. Small envisions the SLIV program expanding throughout the Sunshine State. The SLIV program received national recognition as a model for community participation and high immunization rates.
This drive and success at developing unique systems to reach and vaccinate all children no matter where they live, coupled with his creative approach to promoting immunization information in the classroom, is what makes Dr. Small a CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Nancy Stackhouse, LPN
Licensed Practical Nurse
Cherokee County Health Department (North Georgia Health District)
Reviewing, inspecting, and managing more than 7,000 immunization certificates at over 100 sites—which include schools, pre-kindergarten, and day care facilities—is no easy task, but you wouldn ’t know it based on the ease with which nurse Nancy Stackhouse handles the job.
Ms. Stackhouse, a licensed practical nurse for the Cherokee County Health Department, is known for providing unwavering leadership and support on the immunization front in Canton, Georgia, and throughout the North Georgia Health District. In addition to managing vaccine records, she has led numerous events throughout the community to reach out to parents of infants and young children and offer opportunities for vaccination and education. For eight years, she has organized the “Back to School Immunization Weekend,” a campaign to increase the percentage of children who are up to date on vaccines when entering school and to inform parents about the importance of infant immunization. She also managed celebrations to recognize children in the community who have been fully immunized and led a church-community vaccine clinic to provide vaccines to eligible children and raise awareness about the benefits of immunization.
In addition, Ms. Stackhouse expanded the reach of the immunization program at the Cherokee County Health Department by facilitating a partnership with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Together, they launched an annual Kids Care Fair, which focused on immunization.
For her almost 30-year investment spearheading multiple projects to promote childhood immunization in her community, Nancy Stackhouse is recognized as the CDC Immunization Champion for Georgia.
Vince Yamashiroya, MD
Vince Yamashiroya, M.D., Inc.
Nine out of every 10 children who visit pediatrician Vince Yamashiroya’s practice in Honolulu are immunized. This is a testament to more than 10 years that Dr. Yamashiroya and his staff have strived to ensure that parents receive accurate information and resources so that they can make the right choice—the choice of to protect their children against diseases through vaccination.
In his attempt to increase immunization rates on the island of Oahu, Dr. Yamashiroya has sought out multiple opportunities to promote immunization. His efforts include becoming a Hawaii Vaccines for Children (VFC) provider, as well as actively participating in the Hawaii Immunization Registry (HIR) and Hawaii Medical Services Association’s (HMSA) Online/Patient-Centered Medical Home program. His participation in HIR and HMSA enable Dr. Yamashiroya to use a reminder/recall system to help keep patients up-to-date on vaccinations. With HIR and HMSA’s online systems, parents of children who are overdue for immunizations are contacted so that an appointment can be scheduled.
Dr. Yamashiroya is also involved in a variety of organizations through which he promotes vaccination, including the Hawaii Medical Association, the Physician’s Exchange of Honolulu (as a board member), and the Continuing Medical Education Committee of the Hawaii Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (HAAP). In fact, Dr. Yamashiroya played a key role in planning the 2012 HAAP Conference, Vaccine Hesitancy: How to Vaccinate When Parents Hesitate.
For his community leadership and efforts to build support for childhood immunization—as well as his achievement of high immunization standards within his own practice—Dr. Yamashiroya is the CDC Childhood Immunization Champion for Hawaii.
Susan Kim, MD, MS
Medical Director, Pediatric Hospitalist Services
St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center
Throughout her career, Dr. Susan Kim has recognized and leveraged the tremendous value of strategic community partnerships in advancing immunization. She was instrumental in the successful development of the Central District Immunization Advisory Board in 2010. This Board strives to increase immunization rates, increase partnerships within the community, provide support and education for health care personnel, increase public awareness of vaccine issues, and bring about systems changes.
She played a key role in the Peer-to-Peer Immunization Education Program, a collaboration between the Central District Health Department and Boise State University that offers physician-to-physician consultation. To date, the program has increased the use of standardized protocols in medical practices and the use of reminder-recall systems by 20% and increased immunization rates by 25%. The success of this program is a testament to Dr. Kim’s dedication to increasing immunization rates and mentoring future physicians to do the same.
Dr. Kim also serves as a Co-Chair for the Idaho Immunization Coalition’s Best Practices Committee. In that role, she advocates for immunization policy advancements in the state. She was a key community leader in educating about and advocating for the change to the school immunization requirement laws that went into effect in 2011.
Dr. Kim is a passionate and visible community leader, educator, and advocate for immunizations in Idaho. CDC is pleased to name her a Childhood Immunization Champion.
Immunization Certified Health Technician
Certified Medical Assistant
James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center
North Chicago, IL
After learning from a local community health department alert that whooping cough had appeared in the area, Rosalinda Dejesus jumped into action and immediately began recommending and offering the Tdap vaccine to patients for the prevention of the highly communicable illness. In three months, she vaccinated 214 adults with the Tdap vaccine and distributed many more vaccine information sheets that provided parents with answers to their questions and helped them understand why vaccination is important.
Ms. Dejesus’s community leadership isn’t limited to this incident; it is evident in her everyday work. Her colleagues from the Immunization Clinic at the James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center describe her as an astute and energetic health technician dedicated to the mission of immunizing children and educating the public about the importance of vaccination.
Physicians admire her thoroughness and collaborative efforts in going the extra mile to ensure children are up to date on immunizations in accordance with Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Her colleagues also note that her interaction with patients—the bulk of whom are children—is compassionate and constructive and helps allay fears and doubts about vaccination.
The enthusiasm and attention to detail that Ms. Dejesus provides not only to her patients, but also to immunization policy advancements and implementation of recommendations by the CDC, make her a Childhood Immunization Champion.
Stephen Rinderknecht, DO
Iowa Health Physicians and Clinics
Ninety-one percent immunization coverage for two-year-olds: It’s the incredible accomplishment of Dr. Stephen Rinderknecht, an Iowa pediatrician whose record soars above the overall state coverage rate of 64% and garners high respect among his peers. One of the reasons for his success, according to his colleagues, is that he treats each child as “the most important child in the world.”
In addition to providing personal attention to each young patient at Iowa Health Physicians and Clinics, one of Iowa’s largest health care organizations, Dr. Rinderknecht routinely promotes the state’s immunization registry and volunteers to speak to mothers’ groups about the importance of immunizing their children.
Dr. Rinderknecht is also dedicated to educating physicians and nurses about vaccination. As chairman of the Immunization Task Force for Iowa Health Physicians, he is a frequent presenter at medical, nursing, and public health conferences throughout the state. He also serves as an assistant professor of Pediatrics at Des Moines University and as an attending physician for the pediatric residency program at Blank Children’s Hospital.
Lastly, Dr. Rinderknecht is keenly interested in studying pediatric infectious disease, and as a result has participated in vaccine safety and efficacy clinical trials, including those focusing on rotavirus, meningococcal conjugate, and new combination vaccines.
This steadfast commitment to preventing disease in children through leadership, education, and advocacy of immunization issues is what makes Dr. Rinderknecht a model immunization partner for the state, his medical system, the community, and his patients. It also makes him a CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Christopher Cunha, MD
Crestview Hills, KY
During a recent event, Let’s Immunize Northern Kentucky Coalition Medical Assistant Educational Program, Dr. Christopher Cunha presented “Pertussis in our Community: What You Can Do to Stop the Spread and Prevent the Illness” and “Refusing Vaccines: Parental Concerns, Myths, and Fears.” Pertussis is just one of the 14 vaccine-preventable diseases that the respected pediatrician from Northern Kentucky focuses on when volunteering to educate others about the critical importance of immunizing infants and children.
In addition to speaking at community events to provide continuing education on immunization topics for area medical providers, Dr. Cunha is actively involved in vaccine advancement. After conducting vaccination research for 20+ years at Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital, Dr. Cunha started his own practice, Pediatric Associates Research Group, where he continues these efforts.
Sharing his research and expertise with the community is important to this immunization champion. Dr. Cunha acted as the collaborating physician for the Northern Kentucky Health Department’s School-Based Health Centers, working with nurse practitioners and registered nurses to provide immunizations to students in inner-city and underserved schools. He is currently the collaborating physician for the Thomas More College Student Health Center.
For his community leadership, commitment to vaccine research, and efforts to reach under-immunized populations, CDC is proud to name Dr. Cunha a Childhood Immunization Champion.
Coordinator, Shots for Tots Program
Willis-Knighton Health System
In 1991, Ms. Hughes helped coordinate the first Back to School Bash for the Shots for Tots program and was the driving force for turning it into an annual event to improve community health. Free immunizations for children of Shreveport, Louisiana, provided during these annual events, would not have been possible without Bonnie Hughes.
Ten years after that initial “bash,” Ms. Hughes was appointed manager of the Shots for Tots program and then became chairperson in 2007. During her tenure in this position, the program helped improve immunization coverage in children 2 years of age and younger and increase education and information about immunization. Ms. Hughes earned a Shots for Tots Pin Award in 2008, which honors immunization advocates.
Ms. Hughes also improved Shreveport’s immunization rates by working through a multitude of hospital and community-based programs for the Willis-Knighton Health System. She was instrumental in the development of the immunization registry program used by the Louisiana Department of Public Health and Region VII. This registry tool was a first for Louisiana and provided the state with a template for the Louisiana Infant Immunization Network for Kids Statewide (LINKS), ultimately leading to a LINKS Immunization Program that maintains statewide immunization records.
All of these accomplishments, coupled with her enthusiasm and dedication to her community, make Bonnie Hughes a CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Larry Losey, MD
Chief of Pediatrics
Parkview Adventist Medical Center
In the late 1990s, when Maine’s funding for childhood immunization was in jeopardy, Dr. Larry Losey, Chief of Pediatrics at Parkview Adventist Medical Center in Brunswick, Maine, drew upon his prior experience working in private health insurance to create and spearhead a unique funding mechanism to bridge the funding gap so that Maine’s children could continue to receive recommended vaccines. For seven years, he diligently led this effort that brought together the private and public sectors. In 2008, Dr. Losey received the “Director’s Award, Maine Immunization Program” for this and his other dedicated efforts.
Dr. Losey has also worked to reach and educate more Americans about the importance of childhood immunization. He has written newspaper articles to promote immunization nationwide, and he helped launch the “Medical Minutes” radio program, which airs on several top stations in Portland, ME. Dr. Losey’s segments on childhood immunizations not only raise awareness among listeners in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, they also reach immunization-averse populations.
As a result of his dedication to the childhood immunization cause, Dr. Losey was nominated by the governor to sit on the Maine Vaccine Board, the formation of which was the first step toward creating a sustainable, universal, childhood immunization system for the state.
For the extraordinary measures Dr. Losey has taken over 30+ years to ensure that every child in Maine, from birth to age two, is protected from vaccine-preventable diseases, CDC is proud to name him a Childhood Immunization Champion.
Tiffany Tate, MSH
Maryland Partnership for Prevention,
Tiffany Tate knows that infants who are too young to be immunized rely on those around them being vaccinated to prevent the spread of potentially life-threatening diseases. This knowledge, and her drive to increase immunization in Maryland and beyond, led Ms. Tate to develop HealthyEmbrace, a multi-phase project that works with obstetricians to promote and administer the Tdap vaccine to expectant parents and close contacts of newborns.
Before implementing HealthyEmbrace, Ms. Tate founded immunization programs targeting young children, adolescents, parents, and health care workers and coordinated or conducted coalition-building and vaccine administration training for more than 1,500 local and national immunization stakeholders.
In 2001, she became Executive Director of the Maryland Partnership for Prevention, the state’s adult immunization coalition and, shortly thereafter, was asked to take the helm of the budding childhood immunization coalition, the Maryland Childhood Immunization Partnership (MCIP). Within months, she had implemented several MCIP initiatives aimed at increasing immunization rates among infants and school-age children, tripled membership, and doubled meeting participation. To date, she has raised and disbursed more than $100,000 in grants to support coalition members’ activities to reduce the burden of vaccine-preventable diseases in Maryland.
One of the first initiatives Ms. Tate created is Action to Immunize Maryland (AIM) for School, a project to ensure timely back-to-school vaccinations so that children could enter school “up-to-date and ready to learn.” The initiative consistently drew more than 70% participation from coalition members.
Her leadership and vision in the fight against vaccine-preventable diseases on both the local and national fronts make her a CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Dr. Sean Palfrey, MD, FAAP
Boston Medical Center
Over the course of his 35-year career as a practicing pediatrician, teacher, and mentor, Dr. Sean Palfrey has drawn upon his two greatest strengths—the abilities to build strategic partnerships and to effectively communicate the importance of vaccines to the state’s diverse audiences—to improve immunization rates and protect Massachusetts’ children from vaccine-preventable diseases.
One of his greatest successes is the Immunization Initiative of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which he founded more than 15 years ago and continues to direct. Under his leadership, the initiative has evolved into an influential venue where knowledge about immunization is shared with providers, academics, parents, and the public health community. The initiative not only advocates for both child and adult immunization, it helps educate policy makers and guide policy. Along these lines, the initiative’s efforts recently led to innovative legislation for a stable financing mechanism that guarantees adequate vaccine funding for Massachusetts’ children and ensures receipt of all vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The bill, “An Act Establishing the Massachusetts Childhood Vaccination Program,” proposes a sustainable system for universal childhood vaccine funding and an immunization registry.
At this time of emerging vaccine hesitancy, Dr. Palfrey leads the initiative’s faculty in continually striving to communicate effectively about vaccine safety, ensure providers have effective tools for educating parents, assist in guiding policy makers, promote collaboration between multiple sectors, and maintain public trust in vaccines—all of which make Dr. Palfrey a CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
West Bloomfield, MI
Zachary Yaksich has turned a personal tragedy into a passion for influenza vaccine education and advocacy. His 5-year-old daughter, Alana, died from flu-related complications in 2003. Alana had not received an influenza vaccine because her age group was not included in the annual influenza recommendations at the time, nor did her doctor offer or recommend vaccination.
Since Alana’s death, Mr. Yaksich has worked unwaveringly to educate people about the severity of flu and the importance of vaccinating children against the flu each year. He started Alana’s Foundation in 2009 and has served as a spokesperson and advocate for influenza vaccination, speaking at local churches, schools, community organizations, and meetings of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice. In February 2012, Mr. Yaksich spoke at the Flu Advisory Board, an organization of more than 150 members representing public and private health. By sharing his personal tragedy, he has been an influential advocate for immunization policy advancements, including the expansion to universal influenza vaccination recommendations for everyone 6 months and older.
In addition to his advocacy efforts, Mr. Yaksich has made an effort to share his story with hard-to-reach communities. During the 2011–2012 flu season, he worked with the Wayne County Health Department to provide free influenza vaccinations to under-immunized populations in more 20 immunization clinics in the Detroit area, a city known for its diversity.
Mr. Yaksich’s personal story serves as a reminder of the importance and benefits of immunization. His willingness to share his tragedy in the name of public health makes him a CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Diane Peterson, BS
Associate Director for Immunization Projects
Immunization Action Coalition
Saint Paul, MN
Nearly 40 years ago, soon after she joined the Minnesota Department of Health as a family planning consultant, Diane Peterson began pursuing her true passion: making sure that the youngest Minnesotans are immunized against potentially deadly but vaccine-preventable diseases.
Ms. Peterson’s passion led her to the Immunization Section of the Minnesota Department of Health. Her long tenure there focused not only on speaking to parents about the importance of childhood immunization, but also on assisting with the development of immunization legislation. She worked with the authors of future laws, and the policy makers who would pass them, to make sure that the policies would help increase immunization rates in childcare facilities and schools.
She also created the plan for implementing the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program in Minnesota. For nearly 20 years, this program has provided 40 to 50% of the state’s children with the vaccines they need.
With a thorough understanding of vaccine delivery and use, Ms. Peterson created a vast library of effective educational materials. These resources have assisted virtually every public and private clinical practice that serves children in the state, enhancing understanding of the complicated immunization recommendations and explaining to parents in clear terms the benefits of immunization. She continues this work in her current position as the Associate Director for Immunization Projects at the nonprofit Immunization Action Coalition (IAC), which provides practical immunization information to health care professionals and their patients nationwide.
Ms. Peterson’s leadership in promoting immunization and her contributions to improving services have resulted in widespread numbers of children, including those in underserved populations, living healthier lives through immunization, making her a CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Southern Nevada Immunization & Health Coalition
Las Vegas, NV
Pamela Beal has been a “get things done”-type of immunization champion for the past 18 years, leading and managing community health projects for the uninsured and under-insured. These efforts include establishing five comprehensive, school-based health centers, and mobile, rural, and WIC (a federally funded health and nutrition program for women, infants, and children) clinics.
Ms. Beal became executive director of the Southern Nevada Immunization & Health Coalition (SNIHC) in 2007, and has since led SNIHC through unprecedented growth in terms of leadership and membership. She has also directed many initiatives to increase immunization rates.
These initiatives include promoting the Vaccines for Children program to providers and parents; hosting several immunization events during National Infant Immunization Week; convening a state and national Cocooning Summit to raise awareness of pertussis vaccination among hospitals, obstetricians, and other health care professionals; creating a partnership with the Clark County School District to get all children immunized with the Tdap vaccine; conducting research on Clark County immunization data to determine pockets of need; and partnering with Nevada’s WIC program to educate staff and clients about the importance of immunization and refer them to immunization clinics.
Ms. Beal has also taken innovative steps to promote immunization, such as partnering with the Consulate of Mexico to provide immunization and broad health-related information to communities who might not receive it otherwise.
Ms. Beal’s personal motto—“The Power of Good, Changing Lives for the Better”—is evidenced by her work, all of which makes her a CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Certified Medical Assistant
Greater Hampstead Family Medicine, PC
A 99% success rate is something of which few can boast. Elaine Radzevich is among that small number. Her tireless efforts to immunize all New Hampshire residents—young and old—have led to this extraordinary success among both children and adults. The first drive-up flu clinic she organized received a 2011 award for the greatest number of patients immunized in the state.
But it’s not just her organizational capacity that has led to New Hampshire’s immunization successes. It is Ms. Radzevich’s hands-on approach. She can often be found in places like Hampstead Middle School, spreading the word about changes in immunization schedules and how teens can get immunized against HPV. She can also be found at the front desk of the Greater Hampstead Family Medicine (GHFM) center, listening in on whether patients are agreeing to be vaccinated. Whenever she hears “no,” she springs into action and, more often than not, by the end of a conversation she has convinced the patient that immunization is the right choice.
But her active approach doesn’t stop with patients. She routinely shares her immunization knowledge with GHFM’s other medical assistants and health care professionals. Her hard work has benefited the center, which also won a prestigious award in 2011 for giving out more adult zoster vaccine than any other center in their region.
Ms. Radzevich is adamant about furthering her own education about vaccination by regularly participating in monthly conference calls by the New Hampshire Immunization Program (NHIP) and attending its annual conference, as well as studying immunization-related publications. Her resourcefulness and enthusiasm make Ms. Radzevich a CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Robert Corwin, MD
Elmwood Pediatric Group
In his practice with the Elmwood Pediatric Group in Rochester, Dr. Robert Corwin recommends vaccines to his patients without hesitation, spending countless hours discussing the benefits of immunization for infants and children, especially with parents who are reluctant or unsure about it.
In addition to educating parents about the importance of vaccines, Dr. Corwin has provided immunization leadership and advocacy to his peers and others throughout the state, serving as chairman of the New York State Immunization Advisory Council. He has introduced and recommended several policies on immunization and led educational forums for legislators, including those focusing on vaccine safety and the need for school entry requirements. He has worked to oppose bills that would permit immunization exemptions that weren’t for faith-based or medical reasons in New York, and he continues to argue against those attempting to eliminate laws in support of children being fully vaccinated before starting school.
Dr. Corwin’s peers recognize him as an immunization expert and educator thanks to his presentations at conferences such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). His work with AAP’s New York State chapter helped establish a statewide pediatric immunization coalition that has taken on several issues, including vaccine safety, vaccine supply, and vaccination within pediatric practices. He also educates resident physicians-in-training, making sure that the next generation of doctors understands the importance of immunization.
For keeping childhood immunization a priority and ensuring New York State’s children are fully immunized, Dr. Corwin has been named a CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Kristina Simeonsson, MD, MSPH
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Brody School of Medicine
East Carolina University
Each and every week, Dr. Kristina Simeonsson travels throughout rural and underserved areas near Greenville, North Carolina, to offer pediatric services to children of all ages. In particular, she ’s on the lookout to ensure that all clients are immunized appropriately according to their age.
Dr. Simeonsson also works to promote immunization among health care professionals, presenting at conferences, grand rounds, and association meetings. Some of her most popular presentations include Pertussis in Infants, Pandemic Influenza Planning, Influenza Update, the Risky Business of Vaccine Refusals, and Communicating with Parents about Vaccines. Additionally, Dr. Simeonsson shares her immunization knowledge with students at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine, where she is an assistant professor of pediatrics. In this role, she not only educates future physicians, she also helps to shape the next generation of immunization champions.
Dr. Simeonsson has a particular passion for influenza vaccination, using innovative techniques to get people vaccinated. For example, during the 2011–2012 flu season, she launched a contest to get people vaccinated, even late into the season. She is also involved in helping prepare and plan for pandemic influenza events and presentations.
For her multipronged efforts to improve immunization throughout North Carolina, Dr. Simeonsson is an ideal CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Barbara Andrist, MPH
Public Health Nurse
Upper Missouri District Health Unit
Nursing has been in Barbara Andrist’s blood since graduating from nursing school in 1976. Although her public health work has spanned many fields—from assisting special-needs children to working as a nurse educator at schools—it is in the immunization arena that she has flourished. And her community has benefitted from her accomplishments.
Ms. Andrist’s immunization work through the Upper Missouri District Health Unit has helped area providers keep abreast of changes in immunization recommendations for infants, children, and adults. In addition, she has worked with regional schools to build support for and increase rates of immunization among students of all ages. To that end, she has provided immunization education opportunities for schools, equipping them with background materials and updates on required school immunizations. She has also coordinated immunization events at schools to increase the number of students who receive needed vaccines, including the flu vaccine.
In her practice, Ms. Andrist has used creative strategies to promote immunization. For instance, in 2011, in response to an increasingly diverse community, Ms. Andrist ran childhood immunization ads in both English and Spanish, helping to reduce language barriers.
Finally, Ms. Andrist has served on the North Dakota Immunization Advisory Committee since it began, where she has been a strong advocate for advancing immunization policy in the state.
Her creativity, coupled with a solid record of success, is why Ms. Andrist is North Dakota’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Diane LeMay, MD
Licking Memorial Pediatrics
Dr. Diane M. LeMay’s passion for protecting children through immunization was sparked when, as a medical resident, she was introduced to a baby from her hometown. The little girl had lost both arms, and most of both legs, to Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). “The Hib vaccine had become available that year, but her parents refused it because they were not convinced of its safety,” recalls Dr. LeMay.
That single experience continues to reinforce Dr. LeMay’s dedication to promoting vaccination. Dr. LeMay takes great care to ensure that the parents of her patients fully understand the value of vaccination. She also checks the electronic medical record for patients and their siblings at each appointment to make sure vaccinations are up to date. If the children are due for a vaccine, Dr. LeMay encourages the parents to get the vaccine right then, rather than scheduling another appointment. Dr. LeMay’s staff checks the electronic medical records daily to identify children who are overdue for or at risk of missing vaccinations and calls parents to remind them.
Dr. LeMay has also made efforts to reach low-income families, which make up many of her patients. She provides free immunizations through the Vaccines for Children program, and she has provided taxi tokens for parents who lack transportation to get their children to the office.
As a result of her efforts, she earned recognition in 2009 for achieving complete immunization by two years of age for 90% of her patients. Building on that success, a recent internal audit indicated that 98% of her young patients had been immunized by the end of 2011.
For her drive and realistic approach in motivating parents to vaccinate, Dr. LeMay is recognized as the CDC Childhood Immunization Champion for Ohio.
James G. Shames, MD
Family Practice Physician and County Health Officer
Jackson County Health Department
Nestled in the idyllic hills near Medford, Oregon, where Dr. James Shames practices is a community of parents and activists who, because of religious and/or personal reasons, choose not to vaccinate their children. This group of vaccine-refusers can be found in Ashland where their opposition to vaccination has gained national attention. Dr. Shames has been at the forefront of the local Oregon campaign to educate them and other parents about the critical importance of vaccinating children against the 14 potentially deadly but vaccine-preventable diseases before the age of two years.
In his role as county health officer, Dr. Shames uses innovative techniques to build partnerships and implement change through multiple sectors to bring about improved immunization coverage in his area. For example, he organized an immunization-oriented workgroup for local health care providers, business leaders and residents. As a family practice physician, Dr. Shames makes it his goal to speak with parents one-on-one about the importance and safety of vaccination for their children.
Dr. Shames has also led community and school-staff educational meetings to inform parents, teachers, and school administrators on vaccine safety. And, not only has he promoted the Vaccines for Children program throughout his area, he has also developed a vaccine safety course that clinicians can take for certification credits.
But his work does not stop at Oregon’s borders. Dr. Shames has served as a national spokesperson promoting the safety of vaccination, and was interviewed on the PBS news program, Frontline. He also writes editorials and has been the subject matter expert for radio outlets seeking feedback on Oregon’s immunization controversy. For his unrelenting commitment to educate broadly on the importance of childhood immunization, Dr. Shames is the CDC Childhood Immunization Champion for Oregon.
Elizabeth Lange, MD
Waterman Pediatrics/Coastal Medical, Inc.
East Providence, RI
Dr. Elizabeth Lange is known for having her finger on the pulse of immunization challenges in Rhode Island, and for helping to create educational and other resources and solutions to overcome these hurdles. A pediatrician and professor, Dr. Lange serves on multiple boards and panels that aim to improve immunization in the small but densely populated state. These boards/panels include the Primary Care Physician Advisory Council, the Rhode Island chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Rhode Island Vaccine Advisory Committee. Through the latter she helped lay the groundwork for amending immunization requirements for preschoolers to protect them from serious diseases such as rotavirus, hepatitis A, and pertussis.
Dr. Lange also played a pivotal role during the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, serving as statewide spokesperson, advocate, and educator on H1N1. Noted by her colleagues for her “balance of firmness and reassurance when the microphones are on,” Dr. Lange drew upon two decades of experience promoting childhood immunization not only to deliver critical safety and effectiveness information to the public and others through television and newspaper interviews during the H1N1 crisis, but also to reinforce messages about vaccine safety, the importance of immunization, and the soundness of Rhode Island’s vaccination strategy to the state’s General Assembly on other occasions. It is this expertise that led Rhode Island’s governor to invite Dr. Lange to speak at an event recognizing community leaders and health care providers who participated in the state’s response to H1N1.
It is the decades of dedication to this vital public health issue that make Dr. Lange a CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Erick Temoka, MD, FAAP
Avera Medical Group Pediatrics Aberdeen
As a strong advocate for immunization, Dr. Erick Temoka sees each patient visit as an opportunity to educate parents about the importance of vaccination against potentially life-threatening diseases and to administer or schedule childhood immunizations, especially those that are overdue.
To increase the number of patients who get their immunizations on schedule, Dr. Temoka and his staff routinely review patient records to identify children who are at risk of falling behind. They use a multifaceted approach that includes phone calls, letters, and face-to-face discussions to communicate with busy parents. Parents also receive monthly reminders to schedule future immunization appointments so their children do not to fall behind.
Dr. Temoka and his staff also take time to discuss concerns about safety, efficacy, and side effects of immunizations. As a result of their combined efforts, Avera Medical Group Pediatrics Aberdeen has seen a 90% improvement in the number of patients who are up to date on their immunizations.
In addition, Dr. Temoka works closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the state health department to gather the latest information on childhood vaccinations. This equips him to fully address patient needs and concerns and keep families informed of the latest developments in pediatric health and safety and the importance of childhood immunization.
To his colleagues and community, Dr. Temoka is known for caring about his patients, believing in what he does, and striving to exceed expectations when it comes to childhood immunization. For this and more, he is a Childhood Immunization Champion.
Stuart Weinberg, MD
Vanderbilt University, Departments of Pediatrics
and Biomedical Informatics
Innovator and advocate: These two words well describe Dr. Stuart Weinberg and his dedication to improving policies and systems of care for childhood immunization. As both a practicing physician and a specialist in biomedical informatics, Dr. Weinberg has had some impressive success in advancing immunization systems and increasing vaccination rates in his community.
He created the electronic outpatient whiteboard, a patient flow management system used in nearly every clinic affiliated with Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN. Dr. Weinberg recognized the power of the whiteboard to provide influenza vaccine information to doctors and nurses at each patient visit, using a color-coded electronic reminder system. In one clinic alone, this system increased flu vaccination by 46% in one year. Through this sytem, clinics can also track data about immunization delivery that can guide targeted efforts to increase immunization rates among certain groups.
Dr. Weinberg also pioneered a system to link Vanderbilt’s electronic medical record (EMR) with the state’s immunization registry, allowing pediatric clinics to upload vaccine information directly into the registry and giving providers easy access to registry data for their patients. This groundbreaking work forms the foundation for efforts to link all EMRs within the state’s registry.
Given his expertise, Dr. Weinberg serves on several committees, including in the American Academy of Pediatrics, that are working to advance immunization and health information policies to improve immunization rates for children in Tennessee and nationwide.
The CDC Childhood Immunization Champion award recognizes Dr. Weinberg’s 25 years of working to improve childhood immunization systems.
Anna C. Dragsbaek, JD
President and CEO
The Immunization Partnership
For Anna Dragsbaek, early work in the Peace Corps ignited a passion for public health and for immunization in particular. Coupling that passion with a degree in public health law, she has focused her career on increasing immunization rates in Houston and throughout the state.
Through ongoing immunization advocacy, Ms. Dragsbaek has worked tirelessly to make the voices of health care providers, front-line physicians, and Texans heard at the state capital. Her work has led to significant improvements in state and local immunization registries, and she was instrumental in bringing about changes in state law that make it easier for health care providers to protect their patients from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Ms. Dragsbaek offers education to health care professionals and public health workers through the biennial Texas Immunization Summit, which attracts a wide range of stakeholders with an interest in immunizations, including doctors, public health professionals, nurses, legislators, and community advocates. She also hosted a Pertussis Forum during the 2010 outbreaks to educate parents about preventing this highly contagious and potentially deadly disease through immunization.
Ms. Dragsbaek is currently president and CEO of The Immunization Partnership, which is dedicated to the eradication of vaccine-preventable diseases. She has also held positions on the American Immunization Registry Association, the Confederation of Meningitis Organizations, and the Texas Lyceum.
An immunization leader in the greater Houston community and throughout the state of Texas, Anna Dragsbaek is truly a Childhood Immunization Champion.
William E. Cosgrove, MD
Witnessing Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) take the life of a child almost every day during the course of his residency triggered Dr. William Cosgrove’s vocal support for Hib immunization in 1985 (when a vaccine became available) and for all childhood immunizations.
Since 1987, Dr. Cosgrove has been chair of the Immunization Committee for Utah’s chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He was also a founding member of and has chaired Utah’s “Every Child By Two” immunization coalition for the past 8 years, and has served continually on the Utah Scientific Vaccine Advisory Committee and the steering committee for the Utah Immunization Information System, Utah’s statewide immunization registry. Under his leadership, “Every Child by Two” has helped identify and address low immunization levels among two-year-olds in Utah.
Dr. Cosgrove developed a process to review all pediatric patient charts to determine if children had received all recommended vaccines according to schedule. He worked hard to ensure that proper billing of vaccines was performed as a double check of children’s receiving vaccines.
In addition, Dr. Cosgrove worked closely with the Utah Department of Health, Division of Disease Control and Prevention, to provide recommendations and guidance on the H1N1 response and on the latest management of vaccines.
On top of all of this, Dr. Cosgrove is still a full time pediatrician at Cottonwood Pediatrics in Murray, Utah, and his practice serves as a research site for vaccine trials.
For his nearly 30 years of tireless efforts to improve childhood immunization, CDC is pleased to name him a Childhood Immunization Champion.
Lou DiNicola, MD
Gifford Medical Center
Ensuring that children are protected against vaccine-preventable diseases is not just an interest for Dr. Lou DiNicola, it is a passion. He is a vocal advocate for immunization—both with individual patients and at a statewide level—and a supporter of efforts to improve vaccination coverage rates.
As a pediatrician at the Gifford Medical Center in rural Vermont, Dr. DiNicola communicates the importance of immunization to patients and their families and works to ensure children in his care are fully immunized. As president of the Vermont chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (VT-AAP), he routinely highlights vaccine issues and encourages members to contact lawmakers to discuss immunization legislation. Dr. DiNicola has also served as a member of the health department’s Immunization Advisory Committee for many years, providing members with new information and bringing important issues to the forefront.
In the past year, Dr. DiNicola has strongly supported laws that would eliminate the non-medical or non-religious vaccine exemption for children entering childcare and school. Vermont has experienced a high rate of such exemptions, causing concern for increased outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. Dr. DiNicola educates parents to that fact and encourages immunization among those who are reluctant.
Dr. DiNicola has also written about the importance of childhood vaccination in the state newspapers, been interviewed by the media as a vaccine expert, provided testimony, and led VT-AAP efforts to raise member support for immunization initiatives.
His work with patients, communities, peers, and the state contribute significantly to Vermont’s efforts to increase the number of children protected against vaccine-preventable diseases. For this, Dr. DiNicola has earned the honor of being the CDC Childhood Immunization Champion for Vermont.
John W. Harrington, MD, FAAP
Eastern Virginia Medical School/ Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters
When you need someone credible and approachable to talk about immunization, Dr. John Harrington is at the top of the list. He is an associate professor of pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School; Chief of General Academic Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters; and adjunct associate professor of pediatrics at New York Medical College. But these credentials are only part of the story.
Dr. Harrington is actively engaged in recognition, treatment, and management of autism. He often counsels parents of children with autism on the importance of vaccines and patiently answers their questions. In fact, he has a unique talent for highlighting the importance of immunizations and vaccine safety in his discussions with all parents, as well as with other health care providers and the community.
He has been a valued presenter at vaccine conferences, sharing insights and specific tools for communicating with parents about the importance of immunization and vaccine safety. Dr. Harrington serves as a local expert on vaccines, and has been interviewed by Norfolk’s television news media when relevant questions have arisen. He has also written numerous articles to educate both professionals and parents about the benefits and safety of vaccines and to allay fears about immunization.
As impressive as his efforts to educate the general public are, it is his day-to-day encounters in the clinic that make the greatest difference. Every day, he reminds parents that vaccines play a vital role in protecting their children and reassures them that there is no connection between autism and vaccines.
For his daily contributions in clinics, his willingness to speak out in support of vaccines, and his contributions to educating health care professionals, Dr. Harrington is recognized as the CDC Childhood Immunization Champion for Virginia.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, FAAP
Seattle Children’s Hospital/The Everett Clinic
As a pediatrician interested in the intersection of medicine and media, and its impact on the physician-patient relationship, Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson works diligently to offer parents critical health information in accessible formats. She also believes that a growing community of online physicians can empower parents and patients to make informed decisions based on science.
Vaccines are a top focus for Dr. Swanson. Through her experiences as a parent, as well as a pediatrician, she helps other parents better understand the science behind the medicine. This, in turn, helps eliminate fear as a barrier when making decisions for their children—including decisions about immunizations.
Dr. Swanson writes Seattle Children’s Hospital’s “Seattle Mama Doc” blog (http://seattlemamadoc.seattlechildrens.orgexternal icon), the first blog written by a pediatrician for a major children’s hospital. Her online presence through the blog, and also through a Twitter account, has touched the lives of more than 100,000 parents who might have been beyond reach otherwise. She has also communicated vital health messages in person, and at state and national conferences, through printed materials, and by sharing her expertise in the use of media in medicine as an executive committee member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Communications and Media, and a board member of the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Social Media.
Dr. Swanson pushes the boundaries that define communities across the nation, advocating for increased childhood immunization through cutting edge technology and by reaching parents and professionals in many other ways. This truly makes her a Childhood Immunization Champion.
Sharon Lansdale, R.Ph
President and CEO
Center for Rural Health Development
As a pharmacist, Sharon Lansdale knows the importance of immunization across the lifespan and has worked tirelessly to promote its benefits in West Virginia and beyond. Ms. Lansdale is a strong advocate for maintaining West Virginia’s current immunization law, which requires vaccinations for school entry and does not allow for non-medical exemptions. She has addressed the issue of exemptions and promoted vaccination at numerous state and national conferences, including an annual Immunization Summit that she helped to organize.
Since 2003, the Center for Rural Health Development—which Ms. Lansdale directs—has been the lead agency for the West Virginia Immunization Network (WIN), a statewide coalition focused on setting the stage and generating support for getting every West Virginian fully immunized. Over the last nine years, WIN has grown from a small group of stakeholders to more than 200 members.
In addition, Ms. Lansdale has played a key role in providing immunization training opportunities for various state groups, including school personnel and WIN members. In particular, she has helped guide WIN’s co-chairs and other leaders in reaching out to and working more effectively with partners and other supporting organizations. Her efforts have brought together individuals from a range of public-and private-sector groups such as public health agencies, the vaccine industry, school nurses, state-level leaders in health and education, and other advocates in an effort to improve immunization rates among both young children and adults.
For her dedication to improving the health of children through immunization, CDC has named Ms. Lansdale the West Virginia Childhood Immunization Champion for 2012.
Margaret Hennessy, MD
Wheaton Franciscan Medical Group, Pediatrics
Dr. Margaret Hennessy works hard to spread the word about the importance of immunization to her fellow physicians and others in southeast Wisconsin and has become a valuable source of information on immunization policies and recommendations within her health system. She developed an immunization intranet page to inform and guide her colleagues and maintains a separate intranet page specific to flu immunization and treatment, which was originally created in response to the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic.
In 2007, she launched the Immunization Task Force for Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare to help educate nurses, pharmacists, and primary care providers about the immunization schedule and other timely immunization issues. She also instituted policies that made the Wisconsin Immunization Registry easier to use and has since trained nearly 400 physicians and 65 other clinic staff on how to enter and retrieve data through that registry.
But that’s not all: In response to outbreaks of pertussis, Dr. Hennessy helped bring the Wisconsin Tdap Cocooning Project to her hospital’s nursery and, later, to other hospitals within the system. This project increases Tdap vaccination opportunities for parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of newborns as a way of protecting babies against pertussis as soon as they are born.
Dr. Hennessy’s efforts also span beyond her own health system. In 2009, she created the Racine County Immunization Coalition, a forum for nurses from local health departments and school districts to network, share strategies, and promote and support effective immunization practices.
Dr. Hennessy has been named Wisconsin’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion for her passionate role as immunization advocate and educator.
Barry M. Wohl, MD, FAAP
Northeast Wyoming Pediatric Associates
Since 1978, Dr. Barry Wohl has made childhood immunization a priority in his Wyoming practice and has assisted other physicians with improving their vaccination practices. He has participated in numerous initiatives coordinated by the Wyoming Immunization Program and has served as a member of the Wyoming Vaccine Advisory Board since 2007.
Dr. Wohl has worked especially hard to ensure that communities with low immunization rates and other health burdens receive vaccines. In particular, his practice—Northeast Wyoming Pediatric Associates—serves as the main source of health care for many children from the nearby Crow Indian Reservation. Additionally, when changes in Wyoming’s immunization program left some children ineligible for free flu vaccines through the Vaccines for Children program, Dr. Wohl not only participated in a coalition to identify another way to get these children vaccinated, he went beyond the call of duty by providing financial support to purchase the vaccines.
Dr. Wohl’s practice also has helped improve vaccine record management and vaccine storage and handling in the state; has served as a pilot site for assessing the effects of various storage methods on vaccine waste levels; and was the first private provider to improve vaccine delivery by implementing two-way information exchange between its electronic health record and the Wyoming Immunization Registry. Dr. Wohl also uses a reminder/recall function in electronic health records to ensure that children are up to date on their vaccinations and to monitor and improve immunization coverage levels.
For these and other efforts over the course of 30+ years, Dr. Wohl has earned recognition as a CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.