Champion Award Winners
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The CDC Childhood Immunization Awards, 2014
The CDC Childhood Immunization Champion Award, given jointly by the CDC FoundationExternal and CDC, honors individuals who are doing an exemplary job or going above and beyond to promote childhood immunizations in their communities.
2014 Award Winners
These are the 2014 Childhood Immunization Champions recognized during National Infant Immunization Week, April 26 – May 3, 2014.
Click a letter and select a state to see that state’s awardee. (Note that some states did not participate this year.)
Michael J. Ramsey, MD, FAAP
Dothan Pediatric Clinic
Dr. Michael Ramsey is known throughout the Alabama medical community for his dedication to evidence-based pediatrics. Since his residency, he has been passionate about ensuring that children are up-to-date on all immunizations before they start school. In his 17 years as a pediatrician, he has become an immunization leader in his practice and throughout the state.
As president of the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Ramsey leads the executive board’s campaign to improve childhood immunization in Alabama. He plays a key role in the Chapter’s Vaccine Summit, which explores how Alabama pediatricians can raise vaccination rates. He is also working to establish a peer-to-peer vaccination improvement program among private pediatricians. In addition, he has focused on immunization care coordination, leading a group that met with the state health officer and immunization director about this issue. Meanwhile, at his practice, Dothan Pediatric Clinic, Dr. Ramsey makes special efforts to ensure that all patients are vaccinated on schedule.
Thanks to Dr. Ramsey’s work, 90% of the 2-year-old and adolescent patients who have been treated at Dothan Pediatric Clinic have received all of the recommended immunizations for their age groups. In recognition of his position as a leader among his peers, Dr. Ramsey was appointed to the Governor’s Medicaid Pharmacy Study Commission, and served as pediatric spokesperson at the governor’s news conference on Medicaid funding in May 2012.
For mobilizing pediatricians and decision makers to make childhood immunization a priority, Dr. Ramsey is Alabama’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Deanna Guthrie, LPN
Licensed Practical Nurse
Annette Island Service Unit
In Alaska, where inclement weather often interferes with deliveries, keeping an adequate vaccine supply on hand is a challenge. For Ms. Deanna Guthrie, this is all in a day’s work to ensure immunization coverage for the children of Annette Island, which is an island bush community.
On top of her routine nursing duties at the Annette Island Service Unit, Ms. Guthrie coordinates the immunization program. She maintains vaccine stocks, monitors children’s immunization status, reminds parents when their children are due to receive vaccines, ensures that catch-up plans are developed for children who have missed immunizations, and works with families who need additional vaccine education.
Ms. Guthrie is always on the lookout for innovative strategies to encourage vaccination in different age groups, and she coordinates urgent immunization clinics to protect the community against potential disease outbreaks and meet special needs. In addition, Ms. Guthrie leverages her role as a nurse leader in the community by collaborating with state agencies and other organizations to bring outside resources into her isolated community that promote disease prevention.
Ms. Guthrie’s exceptional standards and professionalism have helped her community achieve high immunization rates. Her collaborations and outreach efforts have brought Alaska Public Health Nursing into the community for the first time in 5 years to participate in a variety of preventive health activities.
Ms. Guthrie’s tireless efforts to maintain optimal immunization coverage in her island community make her Alaska’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Jonathan Melk, MD, FAAP
Chief Executive Officer
Chiricahua Community Health Centers, Inc.
A passion for medicine and public health inspired Dr. Jonathan Melk to become a community pediatrician. He found a challenge that was perfectly suited to his interests and training in a remote corner of Arizona near the United States-Mexico border.
When Dr. Melk arrived at Chiricahua Community Health Centers, Inc. (CCHCI) in 2006 as the organization’s only pediatrician, he found that many of the community’s children were under vaccinated or incorrectly vaccinated. Most of the children had multiple immunization records, often from both the United States and Mexico, or they had no records at all. At the time, CCHCI was vaccinating only a small number of children. Dr. Melk and his team initiated a pediatric program and immediately developed a number of strategies to improve immunization rates, including learning the Mexican immunization system to meet the community’s unique needs. Dr. Melk implemented extensive immunization training of medical support staff; developed highly organized community immunization clinics; made vaccines available during early mornings, evenings, and weekends; and developed relationships with schools, child care centers, and other community organizations. As a result, in 2013 alone, CCHCI administered more than 12,000 vaccines in more than 5,500 patient encounters—an extraordinary increase from 2006, when CCHCI had provided only 190 vaccines to 73 children over a 7-month period.
Through teamwork, a proactive approach, and sheer determination, Dr. Melk and his colleagues have built a highly successful immunization program. CCHCI now maintains a staff of three who are responsible for managing and expanding the immunization program.
Because of his leadership and commitment to improving childhood immunization rates under challenging circumstances, Dr. Melk is Arizona’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Elizabeth (Betsy) Rosenblum, MD
Associate Clinical Professor
University of California, San Diego Medical Center
San Diego, CA
As a parent, Dr. Betsy Rosenblum knows how heartbreaking it is to have a sick child. As a family physician, she knows how frustrating it is to treat something preventable. When she observed that many of the pregnant women she cared for were misinformed about childhood immunizations and that routine appointments were often too short to discuss their concerns, she was inspired to develop innovative ways to educate parents-to-be and their families.
Dr. Rosenblum partnered with public health experts and pharmacists to develop a course called “Thinking Ahead to Your Baby’s Vaccines.” This free course is offered to expectant parents in her community to provide accurate information in a supportive setting and helps families make informed decisions about immunization before their babies are born. Dr. Rosenblum also served as an advisor to the Immunization for San Diego Kids project, which developed written materials for pregnant women about the importance of immunizing their babies on time. In addition, she took a leadership role in creating a clinic at her hospital where newborns’ family members could obtain Tdap immunization to “cocoon” and protect babies against pertussis until they are old enough to be immunized.
Dr. Rosenblum’s vaccine course has received a very positive response from families. Follow-up surveys show the course has had an impact on parents’ decisions to follow the recommended immunization schedule by dispelling myths and decreasing fears. The course has also raised awareness among healthcare professionals about expectant parents’ need for immunization information.
Dr. Rosenblum’s groundbreaking efforts to teach parents-to-be about childhood immunization make her California’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Delfina Ramirez, RN
Nurse Team Manager
Clínica Family Health Services
Throughout her clinical career, Ms. Delfina Ramirez has been involved in immunization activities. As she developed a deep appreciation of the importance of childhood immunization, she also became dedicated to quality and system improvement and following best practices for vaccine administration.
As nurse team manager at Clínica Family Health Services, Ms. Ramirez has worked toward standardizing vaccine administration during medical visits so that immunization becomes a forethought, not an afterthought for the parents of her patients. For example, Ms. Ramirez helped develop a system that ensures vaccines are proactively administered to children through standing orders, rather than when a doctor specifically requests them. She also helped create a report that shows when vaccination opportunities are missed, and she provides feedback to colleagues about how to avoid such situations. Moreover, in the predominantly Spanish-speaking community where she serves, Ms. Ramirez connects with patients and their parents in culturally and linguistically appropriate ways. She teaches nurses and medical assistants how to understand vaccine schedules and how to educate families about immunization.
Ms. Ramirez’s efforts have contributed to high rates of fully immunized children from birth through 3 years old who visit her clinic. The Pecos site where she works consistently achieves the highest immunization rates of the five sites in the Clínica health system. In addition, Ms. Ramirez is recognized by her colleagues as a vaccine expert; they turn to her routinely for answers to vaccination questions, and she inspires them to strive for best practices.
For her efforts to support childhood immunization through quality improvement and culturally competent education, Ms. Ramirez is Colorado’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Geri Rodda, RN
Community Health Coordinator
New Milford Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice
New Milford, CT
While coordinating the New Milford Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) Well Child Clinic and serving as nurse consultant to area child care centers, Ms. Geri Rodda observed that many parents do not understand the benefits of childhood immunization. Without that knowledge, some parents are reluctant to vaccinate their children. Ms. Rodda decided to tackle this problem in an innovative way—by writing two children’s books about vaccines.
Ms. Rodda’s first immunization book, The Flu and You, published in 2006, stresses the importance of vaccination in protecting against influenza. Her second book, Vaccines for Maxine, published in 2013, tells children about the history of vaccination and introduces the idea of “herd” immunity. As the book says, “Vaccines will protect not only you, but people you meet just passing through.” Designed to be read aloud, the books help educate both children and their families about the benefits of immunization.
The Flu and You and Vaccines for Maxine have attracted national attention, raising awareness of the importance of childhood immunization. Many state health departments have purchased the books to educate their communities. More than 1,000 copies of The Flu and You were donated to libraries, schools, and hospitals. In addition, the New Milford VNA Well Child Clinic recently donated 1,000 copies of Vaccines for Maxine to immunization coordinators in Connecticut.
For finding a creative way to improve health literacy around immunization, Ms. Rodda is Connecticut’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Mark Minier, MD, FAAP
Medical Director of Pediatrics
Upper Cardozo Health Center/Unity Health Care
For Dr. Mark Minier, it takes teamwork to improve childhood vaccine coverage. In his Washington, DC community, this means connecting a variety of partners including clinical networks, the public health system, and schools.
Dr. Minier promotes immunization not only at the Upper Cardozo Health Center, where he works, but throughout the Unity Health Care network. He established the concept of having an immunization champion at each of Unity’s 13 sites. He is working with a team at Unity to ensure that vaccine information is efficiently transferred from each site’s electronic health records to the DC Immunization Registry. Under Dr. Minier’s leadership, Unity has partnered with Children’s National Medical Center, another agency serving DC-area children to implement a quality improvement process to prevent missed opportunities for immunization. Dr. Minier is also building collaborations with school nurses to help improve immunization rates, and in his role as the secretary of the District of Columbia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, he is advocating for improved vaccine education for local pediatricians.
Implementing Dr. Minier’s idea to engage an immunization champion at each Unity site has resulted in a significant rise in immunization rates among Unity’s patients. Process enhancements in transferring data to the DC Immunization Registry have improved the timeliness of information exchange and helped to provide health care professionals, school nurses, and child care centers with accurate immunization data on Unity’s patients.
For forging relationships among the city’s immunization stakeholders, Dr. Minier is Washington, DC’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
David M. Berman, DO
Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist
All Children’s Hospital—Johns Hopkins Medicine
St. Petersburg, FL
Vaccine hesitancy among parents in the community troubles Dr. David Berman. He has seen young patients die from vaccine-preventable diseases and has listened to the stories of parents who lost their children. These experiences inspired Dr. Berman to advocate for childhood immunization by reaching out to communities, healthcare professionals, and the state legislature.
Dr. Berman and colleagues in the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics obtained a vaccine hesitancy educational grant to teach physicians and the community about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. By partnering with the Department of Health in Pinellas County, Dr. Berman used a portion of the grant to form the Pinellas Immunization Team for Community Health (PITCH), a community-based initiative to improve immunization rates for children in the county from birth to 2 years old. As part of this effort, he collaborated with other local organizations to use Invisible Threat—a documentary developed by high school students—as a tool to educate community members about immunization. Since the formation of PITCH overall immunization rates in Pinellas County have increased nearly 10 percentage points.
Dr. Berman has taught medical students and mentored pediatric residents and community pediatricians about immunization. To better understand physician attitudes, he conducted a national survey on pediatricians’ vaccine safety concerns and has presented his findings at professional meetings. As a legislative advocate, Dr. Berman has reached out to state legislators about vaccine exemption bills to explain how these bills threaten the health of Florida’s children.
For engaging all stakeholders in his commitment to childhood immunization, Dr. Berman is Florida’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Harry Keyserling, MD, FAAP
Professor of Pediatrics Emeritus
Emory University School of Medicine
As a pediatric resident, Dr. Harry Keyserling spent time at the bedsides of children critically ill with infectious diseases. This sobering experience inspired him to devote his career to vaccine research and to become an advocate for policies that promote childhood immunization.
During his 30-year research career, Dr. Keyserling has written more than 50 publications on vaccine safety, effectiveness, and policy. He also worked with the Georgia state legislature to enact the law establishing the state’s electronic immunization registry. As a member of the state’s Registry Steering Committee, he advocated extensively for implementation of the immunization registry, leading to more physicians participating in the registry. In his role as a liaison member of the Advisory Board on Immunization Practices, he led the development of immunization recommendations for health care workers and immunocompromised people, as well as recommendations for immunization of pregnant women to prevent pertussis in infancy.
Throughout his career, Dr. Keyserling has been a resource for Georgia physicians, always available for consultations on vaccine safety and policy. He has served in multiple leadership roles in state and national professional organizations, including more than 25 years as chair of the Infectious Diseases Committee of the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He has testified before state legislative committees to support vaccine funding and at public hearings to support child care and school vaccine mandates.
Dr. Keyserling’s decades of leadership in vaccine research and policy make him Georgia’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Matt Joyce, MD
Matt Joyce will always remember his elementary school classmate who faced many health-related difficulties because of being diagnosed with congenital rubella syndrome. Matt’s classmate needed several surgeries to help manage eye, ear, and heart problems caused by rubella. Matt always felt that if he could help prevent even one child from suffering as his classmate did, he would “earn his keep” once he became a doctor.
Motivated by this childhood experience, Matt grew up to become a pediatrician and a passionate advocate for immunization. In his solo pediatric practice, Dr. Joyce welcomes parents who have chosen not to vaccinate their children or who have chosen to vaccinate according to their own schedules. Dr. Joyce is diligent about promoting the benefits of vaccines. He takes the time to listen to families, and he addresses their questions and concerns. He has implemented innovative measures to promote immunization. For example, he changed the workflow in his practice to ensure that patients’ immunization status is reviewed prior to each appointment, and he provides same-day, immunization-only appointments. Dr. Joyce frequently speaks at the Baby Care Basics classes at the local hospital, where he openly discusses parents’ hesitations regarding immunization. He also reserves no-charge appointments so that expectant parents can talk about any immunization concerns, before their babies are born.
Thanks to Dr. Joyce’s willingness to listen and his dedication to vaccine education, many parents in his practice who were previously unwilling to immunize their children have changed their minds. These parents now have fully immunized children, and many are up-to-date on their own vaccines as well.
For his diligent and effective strategies to encourage immunization, Dr. Joyce is Idaho’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Nathan Boonstra, MD, FAAP
Blank Children’s Pediatric Clinic
Des Moines, IA
While in medical school, Dr. Nathan Boonstra did a clinical rotation in an area where many parents refused vaccines for their children. This made him wonder why some parents were choosing not to vaccinate. He became interested in the online sources of information these parents were using to make their decisions. Later, during his residency, Dr. Boonstra saw cases of permanent disability and deaths caused by vaccine-preventable diseases. These experiences inspired him to take action to promote and disseminate accurate information about vaccines.
Dr. Boonstra has embraced both traditional and new media in order to educate parents. He speaks frequently about infant vaccination on two local radio stations, and he has done a televised public service announcement. He authored a blog post for the parent-led organization Voices for Vaccines, and he helps manage the Iowa Immunization Coalition’s Facebook page. At Blank Children’s Pediatric Clinic, Dr. Boonstra developed written materials to help educate new parents on why vaccines are strongly recommended. He has also collaborated with state health organizations to produce literature on the importance of the HPV vaccine. However, Dr. Boonstra’s focus is not just mass media. In the clinic, he takes time to educate parents who are hesitant about immunization and directs them to other credible vaccine information sources.
At Blank Children’s Pediatric Clinic, 90% of their patients have been vaccinated according to the recommended schedule. Dr. Boonstra is recognized throughout the state as a leading advocate for immunization, particularly for his expertise in working with vaccine-hesitant families, and he gives monthly lectures on vaccine education to medical students.
For being a trusted educator and proactive health communicator, Dr. Boonstra is Iowa’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Dennis M. Cooley, MD, FAAP
Pediatric Associates of Topeka
For more than three decades as a pediatrician, Dr. Dennis Cooley has done his part to make childhood immunization rates in Kansas among the highest in the country. His service includes three terms as president of the Kansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (KAAP) and membership on the Immunize Kansas Kids (IKK) coalition since 2006. In 2013, the IKK asked Dr. Cooley to serve as their communications specialist to promote childhood immunizations. His accomplishments during the following year underscore his commitment to raising awareness about the importance of immunization.
As IKK communications specialist, Dr. Cooley developed an education program on vaccine hesitancy, vaccine storage and handling, and immunization updates. One of his high-profile projects was the development of the 2013−2014 Kansas Immunization Manual. Designed as an easy-to-read resource for state healthcare professionals, the manual covers immunization schedules, documentation, payment and billing, and other childhood immunization topics. It is available in print and electronic formats and as a mobile phone application. Dr. Cooley also provided educational presentations and webinars for immunization providers and established an e-mail “hotline” that allows providers to get answers to their questions within 24 hours.
Copies of the 2013–2014 Kansas Immunization Manual have reached an estimated 1,500 healthcare professionals. During an 8-month period in 2013, Dr. Cooley conducted 11 educational presentations, which were attended by more than 300 healthcare professionals. He continues his reputation as an immunization leader and advocate by collaborating with state and local health departments and other stakeholders and serving as KAAP’s Legislative Committee chair.
Dr. Cooley’s efforts to spread the word about childhood immunization make him Kansas’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Grace F. Maguire, MD, FAAP
Thomas H. Pinkstaff Medical Home Clinic
Throughout her decades of work as a pediatrician, Dr. Grace Maguire has seen patients with almost every vaccine-preventable disease. This history motivates her to remind younger physicians about the impact vaccines have had on children’s health and inspires her to keep some of the state’s most vulnerable children protected from these diseases.
Dr. Maguire has long been a vaccine information resource for her medical colleagues. For many years, she was the primary immunization educator for trainees at The University of Kentucky in the Department of Pediatrics. She led the immunization programs for the university’s outpatient clinics and helped develop the state’s immunization registry. Currently, she is medical director of a clinic that serves a unique population of children—those in foster care and those with complex medical needs. She and her team take an aggressive approach to immunize all of the foster children in their care by diligently tracking down records and using accelerated immunization schedules when necessary to get children up-to-date on immunizations before they are moved to another location. Dr. Maguire also ensures that children with birth defects, brain injury, cerebral palsy, and other special health care needs receive all appropriate vaccines, including those indicated for high-risk populations.
A recent audit showed an extraordinary 97% of the 2-year-olds at Dr. Maguire’s clinic were vaccinated according to the recommended schedule. Dr. Maguire continues to be a resource for healthcare professionals across the state by providing ongoing reminders of the value of vaccines.
Dr. Maguire’s leadership and dedication to protecting vulnerable children against disease make her Kentucky’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Monica Johnson, LPN
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-Alexandria
Living in an area of Louisiana with a history of low immunization rates has made a lasting impression on Ms. Monica Johnson. It has fueled her passion to improve childhood immunization rates in the community she serves and given her the opportunity to help other communities as well.
Ms. Johnson worked with the staff at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-Alexandria (LSUHSC-Alexandria) to improve the clinic’s immunization rates, and keep patients on schedule. She’s implemented changes, such as sending reminders to parents about when their child’s next immunization is due. To make sure children were following the recommended immunization schedules each year, Ms. Johnson took on the daunting task of reviewing and correcting the immunization records of all children served by the clinic. This effort involved many extra nights and weekends of work, but it ensured that families would get the reminders for the vaccines they needed and that children would receive the recommended vaccines as they grew older. Ms. Johnson also guides clinic staff on how best to talk with families about the importance of immunization.
Thanks to this proactive approach, LSUHSC-Alexandria substantially raised their immunization rates and continues to sustain them. Other groups and organizations have taken notice of this success and asked Ms. Johnson to share her clinic’s methods and experiences. Ms. Johnson presented her approach at the Louisiana Shots for Tots state conference to help attendees work toward improving vaccination rates in their own clinics.
For her for efforts to remind parents to keep children immunized according to the recommended schedule and for increasing childhood immunization rates, Ms. Johnson is Louisiana’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Amy Belisle, MD, FAAP
Director, Child Health Quality Improvement
Maine Quality Counts
Childhood immunization has been a challenge in Maine. During the last 10 years, Maine has had increasingly more vaccine hesitancy, refusals, and delays, coupled with outbreaks of pertussis and flu-related illnesses. The need for an innovative approach was clear. Dr. Amy Belisle, a quality improvement expert, developed a new initiative and charted a course for Maine to move the state’s immunization rates in the right direction.
Dr. Belisle led the development and implementation of the First Strengthening Together Early Preventive Services (STEPS) learning collaborative, a federally funded demonstration project. The initial phase of First STEPS supported healthcare professionals in 24 primary care practices in their efforts to improve their childhood immunization rates. As part of this project, Dr. Belisle encouraged a focus on practice transformation, which led to improved use of best practices such as staff training, recall and reminder procedures, and the use of registries.
The First STEPS program led to significant improvements in the immunization rates of 12- and 15-month-olds at participating practices. Based on the lessons learned in First STEPS, Dr. Belisle championed the creation of a childhood immunization toolkit, which all healthcare professionals can use to ensure they are following best practices for immunization. Throughout her work, Dr. Belisle has acted as a tireless advocate for immunization and made every effort to ensure that healthcare professionals have what they need to be successful.
For her efforts to increase immunization rates through quality improvement, Dr. Belisle is Maine’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Jacqueline R. Dougé, MD, MPH, FAAP
Medical Director, Child Health Services
Howard County Health Department
Ellicott City, MD
Throughout her career as a pediatrician, Dr. Jacqueline Dougé has been passionate about the value of preventive medicine and about meeting the needs of minority and underserved children. As Chair of the Maryland Statewide Advisory Commission on Immunizations, Dr. Dougé proved herself as a leader, collaborator, and advocate for childhood immunization.
During her 3-year term as chair, Dr. Dougé led the Commission in performing a top-down review of the capabilities and challenges of the Maryland immunization registry, drafting guiding principles that will mandate use of the registry, and advocating that HPV vaccine be allowed for minors without parental consent. Under her leadership, the Commission and cooperating organizations also worked to raise awareness of the importance of Tdap immunization.
The impact of Dr. Dougé’s leadership will be felt for years to come. She brought the Commission to consensus on a number of challenging immunization issues affecting children under 2 years of age by encouraging members to focus on what is best for Maryland’s children. As a result of her work, Maryland has a strong set of principles it will use to mandate universal use of the immunization registry. The future mandate will affect every immunization provider in the state.
For her leadership in the development of exemplary immunization policies, Dr. Dougé is Maryland’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Richard A. Moriarty, MD, FAAP
Professor of Clinical Pediatrics
UMass Memorial Healthcare, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Vaccine-preventable diseases have profoundly affected Dr. Richard Moriarty both personally and professionally. He vividly remembers experiences from childhood—having a friend paralyzed by polio, seeing the hallmark symptoms of measles, and overcoming his own bout with mumps. As a pediatrician, he has seen the lasting health effects of bacterial meningitis, measles, and whooping cough. Dr. Moriarty believes no child should experience a vaccine-preventable disease. This belief drives his efforts to promote immunization.
As co-director of the Immunization Initiative of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MCAAP), Dr. Moriarty has been actively involved in developing and promoting policies that support universal immunization. He works to keep his pediatrician colleagues informed about immunization best practices by presenting at MCAAP-sponsored seminars and webinars and writing articles for the MCAAP newsletter. Dr. Moriarty has also provided testimony to Massachusetts lawmakers in support of immunization legislation. One of his many activities is leading the MCAAP-sponsored Residents and Fellows Days at the Massachusetts State House, which introduces young physicians to the legislative process.
Dr. Moriarty’s efforts have had a lasting impact on childhood immunization in Massachusetts at multiple levels—in the clinic, where he has persuaded many hesitant parents to vaccinate their children; among his peers, where he has helped improve medical knowledge and practice related to vaccines; and as a legislative advocate, where his influence will benefit generations of Massachusetts children for many years to come.
For supporting childhood immunization as a clinician, leader, mentor, and advocate, Dr. Moriarty is Massachusetts’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Basel Khatib, MD
Basel Khatib, MD, PC
During his residency, Dr. Basel Khatib read an article about the history of polio. That article transformed his career. The accomplishments of the scientists and health professionals who had made the United States polio-free impressed him deeply. He realized that although not all health professionals have a chance to create a new vaccine, they all can promote the use of vaccines. Since then, Dr. Khatib has made protecting children through immunizations a central mission of his career as a pediatrician.
Dr. Khatib strongly promotes immunization in his pediatric practice. Two of his staff members’ primary responsibility is to focus on immunization activities. He was the first pediatrician in Dearborn to invite families for meetings at his office to educate them about vaccines. He writes articles about immunization for local newspapers, appears on television shows, collaborates with community centers, works to remove financial barriers to immunization, and offers free immunizations to families who cannot afford to pay. He gives lectures on the importance of vaccines, and he allows young physicians to rotate through his office to learn more about vaccines.
The success of Dr. Khatib’s efforts to promote immunization is reflected in awards he has received from the Wayne County Vaccine Providers Group and the Michigan Department of Community Health for achieving outstanding vaccination rates in his practice. In addition, Dr. Khatib’s efforts have helped increase understanding of the importance of immunization among the population of Wayne County.
For his success in promoting immunization in his practice and community, Dr. Khatib is Michigan’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Patricia Stinchfield, MS, RN, CPNP
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
St. Paul, MN
Ms. Patricia Stinchfield became a passionate advocate for childhood vaccinations after the national measles epidemic in 1989−1990. Three Minnesota children, two of whom were patients at her hospital, died in that epidemic. To find out why some children had not been immunized, Ms. Stinchfield and a group of other nurses conducted a door-to-door survey in public housing communities. They learned that most families valued vaccines but many didn’t know when their children needed to receive them. This inspired her to encourage healthcare professionals to be proactive about immunization and bridge the information gaps for families.
Since then, Ms. Stinchfield has become a nationally recognized immunization expert. She has served as director of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota’s Immunization Project, where she addresses disease outbreaks and convenes community leaders to improve immunization rates. She was the first nurse to become a voting member of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. She has testified before the Minnesota State Legislature on vaccine issues and was an early champion for immunization registries. Ms. Stinchfield also implemented an award-winning program, called FluVaxTrax, that encourages Children’s staff to get their flu vaccines in order to protect their patients.
As a go-to authority on vaccination, Ms. Stinchfield has had a lasting impact on public policy and best practices for childhood immunization in Minnesota and beyond. She is regularly cited in local, regional, and national media. Her lectures and presentations—including those for the Clinical Vaccinology Course sponsored by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases—have audiences of up to 1,000 healthcare professionals each year. Moreover, through FluVaxTrax, more than 90% of Children’s staff received their seasonal flu vaccines for 2 years in a row.
For her decades of leadership in getting children vaccinated on schedule, Ms. Stinchfield is Minnesota’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Rutu Ezhuthachan, MD, FAAP
Chair, Executive Board
Southern Nevada Immunization and Health Coalition
Las Vegas, NV
As a pediatrician, Dr. Rutu Ezhuthachan has seen firsthand the devastating effects of vaccine-preventable diseases in her patients; as a mother, she empathizes deeply with the families of these children. These experiences have inspired her to become an effective health communicator and to ensure that all the families she serves understand the importance of immunization.
Dr. Ezhuthachan chairs the executive board of the Southern Nevada Immunization and Health Coalition (SNIHC) and leads an engaged group of more than 200 member organizations. In 2013, SNIHC adapted Dr. Ezhuthachan’s presentation “Communicating with Parents and Combating Dr. Google,” for staff of a local Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program. Using Dr. Ezhuthachan’s unique skill in translating the science of vaccines in a meaningful and engaging way, the presentation teaches how to debunk online myths, address parent concerns, and overcome vaccine hesitancy. It has become a popular continuing education opportunity for local health care professionals. In addition to SNIHC, Dr. Ezhuthachan serves in leadership roles with the Statewide Maternal and Child Health Coalition and the Early Childhood Advisory Council for the State of Nevada.
Since Dr. Ezhuthachan became involved with SNIHC, Nevada’s childhood immunization rates have improved substantially. In her position as medical director for United Healthcare, Dr. Ezhuthachan will continue to work to influence best practices for immunization throughout Nevada.
Dr. Ezhuthachan’s innovation in vaccine education makes her Nevada’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Everett J. Lamm, MD, FAAP
Core Pediatrics Exeter
Dr. Everett Lamm has been a lifelong community volunteer and an advocate for immunization during his 15 years as a pediatrician. However, his commitment to promoting immunization was galvanized in 2010, by the tragic death of a previously healthy infant who became infected with whooping cough from an unimmunized person. The infant was not old enough to have been fully immunized against whooping cough. This story, which Dr. Lamm has sought to make the centerpiece of a state immunization campaign, inspired him to advocate for vaccination not only for his pediatric patients, but for their caregivers as well.
A respected leader both inside and outside the clinic, Dr. Lamm serves on the New Hampshire Immunization Advisory Committee Board of Directors, where he provides expertise and advice to the New Hampshire Immunization Program (NHIP). He also serves on the local school board, where he educates and advises about school immunization policies. In addition, he is a sought-after lecturer to both professional and community groups. In his own pediatric practice, he takes the time to adequately address parents’ concerns by clearly explaining how vaccines work, dispelling fears and misconceptions, and ensuring that families understand how vaccines impact both child and adult health.
Dr. Lamm’s work has helped increase immunization awareness at the state and local levels. His connection to community and advisory groups allows him to influence immunization policy change. The clinical and scientific expertise he brings to NHIP helps strengthen the state’s commitment to vaccine quality assurance, evaluation, and assessment.
For his extensive advocacy and community service on behalf of immunization, Dr. Lamm is New Hampshire’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Elie Ward, MSW
Director of Policy and Advocacy
American Academy of Pediatrics, District II (New York)
As a parent, Ms. Elie Ward values how vaccines protect her family from disease. In her travels abroad, she witnessed the results of inadequate immunization, which deepened her commitment to keep vaccination coverage rates increasing in New York. Her work with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has given her an opportunity to do this by influencing state immunization policy and practice.
As director of Policy and Advocacy for AAP’s District II, Ms. Ward has made immunization a key area of the organization’s quality assurance activities. She is a vocal advocate for encouraging pediatricians to follow the schedule recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and has collaborated with the New York State Department of Health and other partners to develop educational materials on vaccine-preventable diseases for AAP members, families, and communities. A key aspect of Ms. Ward’s work has been her collaboration with a variety of stakeholders. For instance, she works closely with the New York City Department of Homeless Services to get homeless children immunized and has engaged the New York State Education Department and external partners in child care and foster care to promote the immunization message. She also ensures that facts about immunization are part of the Reach Out and Read program in New York. This program trains and supports health care professionals in making literacy guidance part of pediatric practice.
Ms. Ward’s work has positioned her to effectively discourage state policy and legislation that could negatively impact vaccine coverage rates. These efforts have helped reinforce New York’s stance against philosophic exemptions.
For keeping the momentum going in support of immunization policy and public health, Ms. Ward is New York’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Jody Thompson, BS, MEd
Superintendent of Teaching and Learning
Grand Forks Public Schools
Grand Forks, ND
As a school superintendent, Mr. Jody Thompson knows too well that when children miss school because of illness, it is a hardship for the student, the class, and the teachers. Children who are sick may fall behind in school, which may affect their ability to learn and require additional school resources to help them catch up.
To keep the children in his school district healthy, Mr. Thompson advocates strongly for immunization. He has been instrumental in continuing vaccination efforts in the Grand Forks Public Schools after the local public health department stopped providing that service. Each year, he arranges for a presentation about influenza vaccine of his school principals. He gives the principals the opportunity to schedule flu vaccine clinics at their schools immediately after the presentation. Mr. Thompson also provides information about the vaccine clinics on school websites and uses an automated calling system to remind parents to send in signed consent forms allowing their children to participate in the clinics.
Thanks to Mr. Thompson’s promotion of onsite clinics, the Grand Forks Public Schools have shown substantial increases in the number of children who receive annual flu vaccine. He has successfully encouraged schools that previously opted out to begin holding these clinics. Mr. Thompson also offers his help to other school systems interested in developing immunization programs.
For protecting the health of students by promoting school immunization programs, Mr. Thompson is North Dakota’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Renee Caslow, DO, FAAP
Marietta Memorial Hospital
When Renee Caslow was a young woman, she worked at a summer camp for children with special needs. The courage she saw displayed by the children at the camp inspired her to devote her life to meeting the needs of children and helping to protect them against diseases. From that point forward, she knew she always wanted to work with kids. Renee became a doctor who specializes in pediatrics.
Dr. Renee Caslow practices in a rural area where there is a shortage of physicians, especially pediatricians. She is scrupulous about following best practices for immunization. She makes sure the patients in her practice are immunized at every opportunity and the parents are educated about immunizations at every visit. For all “no show” patients, her staff contacts the parents as soon as possible to reschedule the missed visit. When patients do come in for immunizations, the staff schedules their next immunization visit before the family leaves the office. Dr. Caslow’s front desk staff is trained on how to schedule immunization appointments to ensure that vaccine doses are spaced correctly.
The close attention that Dr. Caslow and her staff give to promoting immunization has paid off. A recent assessment showed that the children in her practice had high rates of immunity against vaccine-preventable diseases, as well as high rates of completion of the recommended series of immunizations.
Dr. Caslow’s dedication to protecting the children in her underserved community against vaccine-preventable diseases makes her Ohio’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Richard K. Ohnmacht, MD, FAAP
Richard K. Ohnmacht, MD, Ltd.
Dr. Richard Ohnmacht cites his research experience for making him such a passionate champion of immunization. Because of his work in pediatric vaccine research, he sees the power of immunization to protect children. This experience has bolstered his dedication to promoting immunization within his own practice and for children throughout Rhode Island.
Dr. Ohnmacht supports childhood immunization in Rhode Island as a pediatrician, researcher, and authoritative expert. In his practice, he has earned parents’ trust and respect through his willingness to listen to their concerns and talk with them about immunization. Understanding the importance of good data collection in coordination of care, Dr. Ohnmacht is committed to entering his patients’ immunization data into the state registry promptly and accurately. He uses the registry to assess patients’ vaccination status and bring them up-to-date on vaccines as necessary. As a researcher, Dr. Ohnmacht has participated in dozens of research studies, and helped to ensure that children get maximum immunity against vaccine-preventable diseases. As a member of Rhode Island’s Vaccine Advisory Committee, he provides guidance to the Rhode Island Department of Health on issues of vaccine distribution and administration.
Thanks to Dr. Ohnmacht’s dedication to immunization and to open communication with families, his patients’ immunization rates are among the highest for any practice in Rhode Island. His work on the Vaccine Advisory Committee and his decades of research experience have helped protect children statewide and beyond from a variety of diseases.
For his leadership on vaccine issues as both a physician and a researcher, Dr. Ohnmacht is Rhode Island’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Jennifer A. Schriever, MD
Sanford Clinic Family Medicine
Sioux Falls, SD
Dr. Jennifer Schriever has a passion for protecting the health of pregnant women, infants, children, and adolescents. She looks to share this passion in all aspects of her work, from her membership on multiple committees at Sanford Health to her oversight of the resident obstetrics program. However, perhaps nowhere is her passion more apparent than in her focus on immunization.
At the Sanford Clinic, Dr. Schriever ensures that each wellness visit includes a review and update of the patient’s immunizations. In 2013, her clinic was 1 of 20 family medicine practices nationwide that were granted participation in the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Adolescent Immunizations Office Champions Project, which helps practices develop a culture that promotes the importance of adolescent immunizations. Dr. Schriever identified an opportunity to evaluate and restructure processes that would allow clinic staff to review each patient’s immunization status at every visit. The processes she piloted at her clinic can be adapted to boost immunization rates for all patients across Sanford Clinics. For example, using various means of technology, Dr. Schriever’s staff can identify patients in need of immunizations and encourage them to get up to date.
Dr. Schriever’s overall emphasis on immunization has helped more than 90% of children ages 0 to 2 years at her clinic get immunized according to the recommended schedule. Her clinic has consistently had high immunization rates for the past 3 years. Dr. Schriever and her colleagues plan to share the program she piloted under the AAFP project with Sanford Clinics throughout the Midwest.
For her commitment to clinical performance and improvements in immunization practices, Dr. Schriever is South Dakota’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Jenni Stracener, MSN, CPNP
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Rutherford County Primary Care and Hope Clinic
As a pediatric nurse practitioner at a primary care clinic, Ms. Jenni Stracener provides vaccinations to most of the children who visit the clinic. Regardless of the setting, Ms. Stracener leads the way in promoting immunization for the children in Rutherford County.
At the clinic, where Ms. Stracener works strives to meet federal health care quality-improvement standards, Ms. Stracener is responsible for documenting measures of childhood immunization. She keeps an ongoing record of newborns at the clinic so that she can periodically monitor their immunization status as they grow older. Each quarter, she also reviews reports of patients who are approaching their second birthdays to check and see if they are up-to-date on immunizations. She is a valuable childhood immunization resource at the clinic and often provides her colleagues with information about current vaccine schedules, vaccines available at the clinic, and billing and coding. She created a packet of materials to help clinic staff and parents communicate about immunizations. In addition to her work at the clinic, Ms. Stracener uses a collaborative mobile health unit and travels to visit schools throughout the county, during the summer and fall months. The mobile unit allows her to reach more children and vaccinate them according to the requirements set by the public school systems.
Ms. Stracener’s efforts have helped to increase immunization compliance in Rutherford County. In both the clinical and mobile settings, she regularly educates parents and children about all recommended immunizations, not just those required for school.
Ms. Stracener’s commitment to immunization knowledge and practice makes her Tennessee’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Julie A. Boom, MD
Baylor College of Medicine
When Dr. Julie Boom was a medical resident, she treated a 3-year-old girl who died of meningitis. This experience inspired her to devote her career to promoting immunization through education, research, and the development of improved immunization technology and practices.
As an attending physician at Texas Children’s Hospital, Dr. Boom immunizes hundreds of children each year and advises residents on communicating with parents, especially those with vaccine concerns. As a prominent researcher, she has led several collaborative, multi-site research projects on vaccine effectiveness and prevalence, vaccine beliefs of parents, and other topics related to immunization. Dr. Boom also led the development of an automated software tool that forecasts what vaccines each child will need and when, according to the recommended schedule. To remind parents about the importance of vaccines, she helped create Vaccine-Preventable Disease: The Forgotten Story, a book featuring 20 families affected by vaccine-preventable illnesses. A tireless advocate, Dr. Boom has provided verbal testimony on several occasions to support critical immunization-related legislation.
Dr. Boom’s commitment to childhood immunization has had local, national, and international impact. A rotavirus vaccine study she worked on influenced domestic and global recommendations for the use of the vaccine. Dr. Boom’s vaccine forecaster is now used in two states and by Indian Health Services, which serves nearly 1.5 million people each year. More than 130,000 copies of her book have been distributed, and a related documentary film, Facing Meningitis, has been produced.
For a career spent influencing parents, healthcare professionals, and future generations of immunization providers, Dr. Boom is Texas’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
David Cope, MD
Cope Family Medicine
In his work with the Northern Utah Immunization Coalition (NUIC), Dr. David Cope participated in a project in which local residents who had experienced vaccine-preventable diseases were interviewed. One of them was a long-term patient in Dr. Cope’s own practice. Dr. Cope, who interviewed the patient himself, was struck by how different the outcome would have been if the patient had been vaccinated. This experience is at the heart of Dr. Cope’s commitment to promoting immunizations.
In his family practice, Dr. Cope actively engages patients and parents in discussions about immunization. He is an active member of the NUIC and helped create their website. He currently holds an executive committee position as the coalition’s webmaster. Dr. Cope is also a well-received speaker on immunizations at local and state professional conferences, as well as a member of the Utah Scientific Vaccine Advisory Committee. As a local authority on immunization, Dr. Cope has been featured in the media addressing immunization, and he consults regularly with the Davis County Health Department on immunization issues.
Dr. Cope sets an example for his peers by setting aside time from his practice each month to participate in the NUIC. The Coalition’s website has been featured by other online health professional groups. Dr. Cope has had a direct impact on influenza immunization rates in his community through a uniquely personal effort: every year on Halloween, he hosts an annual flu immunization clinic in his home for all trick-or-treaters!
For proving the adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, Dr. David Cope is Utah’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Joseph F. Hagan, Jr., MD, FAAP
Hagan, Rinehart & Connolly Pediatricians, PLLC
Misinformation about vaccine safety can confuse parents as they try to make decisions about their children’s health. Having cared for children with special needs, including those with autism spectrum disorder, Dr. Joseph Hagan is familiar with parents’ concerns about vaccine safety. That’s why he is dedicated to bringing thoughtful, evidence-based information about immunization to parents and healthcare professionals.
Dr. Hagen acts as a spokesperson for a public health campaign, called “It’s OK to Ask,” that is sponsored by the Vermont Department of Health. This campaign encourages parents to ask questions about immunizations. The campaign website lets parents submit their vaccine questions to a group of medical experts. Dr. Hagan is one of those experts, and he responds thoughtfully and sensitively to parents’ questions about vaccines. Dr. Hagan is also a primary editor for Bright Futures, a national health promotion and disease prevention initiative sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics that aims to foster partnerships for children’s health among healthcare professionals, families, and communities. As part of its commitment to evidence-based care, Bright Futures supports immunizing children according to the recommended schedule.
Through his work with “It’s OK to Ask,” Dr. Hagan is often able to address concerns that families were not comfortable discussing with their own pediatricians. As a co-editor of Bright Futures, he has helped create national gold standard recommendations for what should happen at every well-child visit, including immunizations.
For bringing parents and professionals the most authoritative information about vaccines, Dr. Hagan is Vermont’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Janet A. Kauzlarich, RN
During her nursing career, Ms. Janet Kauzlarich saw increasing numbers of parents who were hesitant to vaccinate their children. She began to notice that parents sometimes did not understand the importance of immunizing their children against certain diseases because they had never seen the diseases that the vaccines prevent. Ms. Kauzlarich’s lifelong advocacy for immunization was born out of her personal experiences with diseases that are now vaccine-preventable and wanting parents to appreciate the benefits of immunization.
Now, as a retired nurse, Ms. Kauzlarich volunteers her time and expertise to promote immunizations. She is a long-standing member of the Immunization Action Coalition of Washington (IACW). She served as a leader in planning the Coalition’s Adult Immunization Leadership Summit in 2013. As a followup to the summit, she led a Coalition committee that explored how the Affordable Care Act would impact access to immunizations. She has long advocated for healthcare practices to the use the Washington State Immunization Information System (IIS); in fact, she believes so strongly in its use that she volunteers at a local pediatric practice where she enters immunization records into the IIS. Ms. Kauzlarich has also worked with colleagues from state and local health departments to develop training modules for immunization providers to help them understand the “why” as well as the “how” of vaccinations.
Ms. Kauzlarich’s leadership, enthusiasm, and passion for immunization have been influential. She not only makes events like the IACW summit happen, she makes sure they produce actionable tools and outcomes. She also finds opportunities to further educate healthcare professionals about the value of vaccination.
For her ongoing dedication to promoting immunizations, Ms. Kauzlarich is Washington’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Learn about all of the Champion Award Winners.