Champion Award Winners
The CDC Childhood Immunization Awards, 2017
The CDC Childhood Immunization Champion Award, given jointly by the CDC Foundationexternal icon and CDC, honors individuals who are doing an exemplary job or going above and beyond to promote childhood immunizations in their communities.
2017 Award Winners
These are the 2017 Childhood Immunization Champions recognized during National Infant Immunization Week, April 22-29, 2017.
Click a letter and select a state to see that state’s awardee. (Note that some states did not participate this year.)
Norton Sound Health Corporation
As a child, Jonathon Peterson lived in the remote Norton Sound region of Alaska where his father worked as a doctor. Upon graduating from college in Minnesota, he decided to return to the region and use his experience as a nurse assistant to improve direct patient care.
Mr. Peterson serves as the Immunization Coordinator for the Norton Sound Health Corporation, monitoring vaccination rates in 15 Alaskan Native villages and the main hub of Nome. As Immunization Coordinator, he orders and distributes vaccines, ensuring shipment to remote villages, inaccessible by road. He also assists nursing staff and health aides with vaccination training and ensures accurate immunization documentation in electronic health records. Mr. Peterson is known as an immunization authority in the region, serving as an expert on vaccination schedules, storage, and best practices.
Constantly brainstorming new ways to increase coverage, Mr. Peterson recently implemented a vaccination reminder card system for all children in the region. These cards are greatly appreciated by parents, prompting several of them to write letters of appreciation for his innovative and tireless efforts. Mr. Peterson also collaborates with local pharmacists and 13 schools to organize regular in-school flu vaccination programs, significantly increasing coverage rates among school-aged children.
Thanks to his efforts to break down barriers to immunization, coverage rates in the Norton Sound region have steadily increased. Mr. Peterson is currently applying to medical school and will continue to be a champion for childhood immunization throughout his career.
For his commitment to achieving high immunization rates in remote areas of Alaska, Jonathon Peterson is Alaska’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Jim McPherson, III
Principal, McPherson & Associates
Jim McPherson’s skills as a communicator, and his extensive experience in partnerships and public affairs, make him a respected voice for childhood vaccinations in Arizona. For over 20 years, Mr. McPherson has built unique partnerships and coalitions while advocating to protect Arizona’s children through vaccination.
Mr. McPherson has been a dedicated volunteer for The Arizona Partnership for Immunization (TAPI) since its founding. When initial funds for TAPI’s early activities ran out, he helped the organization get help from Arizona’s First Lady, Ann Symington, and found funding, an organizational home, and staff for TAPI to continue its work in supporting immunizations. Additionally, as Public Affairs Director at PacifiCare Health Plans, he advocated for the Arizona Association of HMOs to build a strong partnership with TAPI. Currently, he continues supporting TAPI as a board member and committee chair.
Mr. McPherson also built a unique partnership between PacifiCare Health Plans with local fire departments in Arizona to create the “Firehouse Healthy Kids Day.” With the support of local health departments, firehouses in under-vaccinated neighborhoods opened for a day of fun on firetrucks and immunization screenings. Many families with small children visited their local firehouses and learned about immunization from public health nurses. At these events, parents were able to have their questions answered while their children’s vaccines were brought up to date. Thanks to Mr. McPherson, Firehouse Healthy Kids Day also garnered favorable media attention for immunizations, local fire departments, and health plans. From this partnership, many Arizona fire departments have continued incorporating childhood immunization services into their mission.
Jim McPherson, Arizona’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion, has generously offered his time, passion, and public relations skills to support strong immunization partnerships and childhood vaccines throughout Arizona!
Rebecca Norwick, M.S., RN, FNP
Nurse Practitioner, Santa Rosa Community Health Centers
Santa Rosa, CA
When Rebecca Norwick was a nurse practitioner on a Navajo Reservation, she was an early supporter of Arizona’s Immunization database and championed ways to raise immunization rates. Her experience on the Reservation and work immunizing internationally against mumps and rubella fueled her passion for childhood vaccines.
Ms. Norwick is a member of Santa Rosa Community Health Centers’ (SRCHC) Immunization Committee and is the founder and biggest cheerleader for their immunization program. At SRCHC, she developed a Nurse Practitioner program that emphasizes Well Child visits and reviewing immunization records at every child visit. Although the center works with a large population, their success and high vaccination rates are a direct result of Ms. Norwick’s work.
Ms. Norwick also attends clinician meetings on a regular basis to remind health care providers of existing vaccine guidelines and share new updates. Clinicians can count on her to provide the information and eagerly listen to her as she creatively shares new information.
Using her Centers’ E-Clinical Works database, Ms. Norwick finds out which children need vaccines at their upcoming Well Visits. Because her center cares for so many children and many need vaccines, she has set up weekly Well Child and Immunization clinics to all patients on schedule. Her leadership in this capacity has made huge differences in vaccination rates at her Center.
Because of her outstanding work with patients and other health care providers, Rebecca Norwick is California’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion!
Matthew Daley, MD
Institute for Health Research
Kaiser Permanente Colorado
Before his third year of residency, Dr. Matthew Daley witnessed the devastation caused by vaccine-preventable diseases while working in a children’s hospital in Southern India. These experiences left a lasting impression on him and inspired him to become an immunization advocate.
In addition to practicing pediatrics and conducting vaccine research, Dr. Daley volunteers his time and expertise as chair of the Vaccine Advisory Committee for Colorado (VACC). In this position, he is a thoughtful and inclusive leader who ensures that all opinions are heard. Dr. Daley makes an effort to learn from the experiences of other state advisory committees and incorporates these learnings into VACC efforts to evaluate its own activities and redefine its role.
Dr. Daley regularly meets with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and has testified on its behalf in support of critical childhood immunization policies. He has also devoted a large part of his career to vaccine research, focusing on vaccine safety, vaccine delivery, barriers to vaccination, alternative schedules, and facilitating conversations between parents and providers. Dr. Daley also serves as an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine.
The impact of Dr. Daley’s work is felt strongly in the pediatric, public health, and parent communities of Colorado. For his outstanding leadership in pediatrics, vaccine policy and vaccine research, Dr. Matthew Daley is Colorado’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Linda Niccolai, PhD, ScM
Yale School of Public Health
New Haven, CT
Until she had children, Dr. Linda Niccolai did not fully appreciate how often prevention initiatives such as vaccination are overlooked. This new appreciation inspired her to create strategies to increase immunization coverage and remove barriers to uptake.
Dr. Niccolai’s commitment to childhood immunizations is demonstrated through her work in both academic research and community activities. In her role as the Co-Director of the Connecticut Emerging Infections Program at the Yale School of Public Health, she has championed the expansion of vaccine education and access, especially in lower socioeconomic status urban populations. She regularly promotes the use of immunization registries to help assess vaccine coverage in urban communities and the expansion of immunization education initiatives to under-served populations. Her research, examines the impacts racial, economic, educational, and gender gaps have on disease awareness and vaccine access.
Dr. Niccolai is also actively involved with Connecticut’s Childhood Vaccine Advisory Council (CVAC) and promotes immunization through speaking engagements with community groups, immunization partners, and medical providers. Dr. Niccolai also partners with regional Immunization Action Plan (IAP) coordinators to discuss initiatives to increase immunization rates and works hard to educate parents and providers on the safety of vaccines and their importance on positive health outcomes.
Dr. Niccolai’s commitment to immunization research and education makes her Connecticut’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion!
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Marilyn Corder, MD
Children’s Medical Care Center
From age nine, when she lost a close friend to meningitis, Dr. Marilyn Corder knew she wanted to be a pediatrician. Excelling in her studies, she completed her doctorate in medicine from Howard University at 23 and received early acceptance into the Department of Pediatrics.
Currently, Dr. Corder is Chair of Pediatrics at the only hospital in Southeast Washington’s Ward 8, a socioeconomically disadvantaged community. There, families trust her guidance on getting all children’s vaccines on time. Since starting her practice 35 years ago, Dr. Corder has been an inclusive leader and refuses to allow insurance or scheduling issues to keep her from providing care to vulnerable infants and children. Her office policies also make sure families are always contacted if they miss appointments, with the invitation to reschedule anytime within 2-3 days to stay on track.
Dr. Corder is one of the longest serving Vaccine for Children (VFC) providers in the District of Columbia. She supports VFC program recommendations at her practices, participates in program events, and mentors colleagues who become nurse managers in other VFC provider practices. She also serves as a member of the District of Columbia Immunization Practices Advisory Committee (IPAC). As part of IPAC’s Providers Subcommittee, Dr. Corder ensures that immunizers in DC work collaboratively with health departments to increase immunization compliance and reporting to the District of Columbia Immunization Information System.
Because of her extensive knowledge and experience, Dr. Corder is known as a passionate and intelligent voice for vaccines throughout the District. Whenever she encounters a parent refusing vaccines, she shares the importance of each vaccine, reviews vaccine information sheets, and shares her experiences with vaccine preventable diseases (orchitis, deafness, encephalopathy, and death).
Dr. Corder also reaches parents through her national radio show on Radio One, “Village Talk with Dr. Corder,” where she talks about the importance of vaccination and dispels misconceptions about vaccines.
Dr. Corder’s expertise and committed efforts for childhood immunization make her Washington D.C.’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion!
Tommy Schechtman MD, MSPH, FAAP
Palm Beach Gardens, FL
For 18 years as a pediatrician, Dr. Tommy Schechtman’s focus has been to “provide exceptional care for all children.” His life and work demonstrate that the proven protection of vaccines is essential to keeping kids healthy and safe. As demonstrated through his practice, advocacy, and education of his peers, Dr. Schechtman has become an authority on pediatric immunization throughout Florida.
Outside of his medical practice, Dr. Schechtman assures children get the best care by supporting various vaccine campaigns, speaking on panels, and educating other doctors about their role in childhood vaccines. He is a medical consultant for Palm Beach County School District, supporting local efforts to immunize young children. He also advocates locally for all pediatric vaccines, especially encouraging all local hospitals administer the Hepatitis B vaccine at birth.
In addition to participating in local childhood vaccine efforts, Dr. Schechtman brings change at the state level and beyond. He often lectures at various workshops and state summits, reminding pediatricians to advocate for immunization and increase community awareness about vaccines. Through Immunization Coalition activities, he builds partnerships and encourages other participants to come together to offer immunization and support services throughout Florida.
Additionally, Dr. Schechtman served as president of the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics from 2014-2016 and is an active board member of the Florida Healthy Kids Corporation. Nationally, he has researched safety and effectiveness of childhood vaccines.
His work caring for infants, educating health care professionals, and encouraging others to value vaccines makes Dr. Tommy Schechtman Florida’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Samuel J. Gold, MD
WellStar Town Lake Pediatrics
Sandy Springs, GA
Dr. Samuel Gold’s passion and training as a pediatrician began before vaccines for pneumonia, chickenpox, and meningitis were available to children. Because he has seen the negative effects of these diseases in his 20 years as a pediatrician, his personal accounts to parents explain the benefits and success of vaccines in protecting children from serious diseases.
Dr. Gold’s work at WellStar in the Atlanta metro area has dramatically increased the organization’s vaccination rates. He increased immunization rates by building trust and relationships with his patients and working tirelessly to encourage the same approach in his peers. For lasting impact, Gold established a policy of continuity of care, keeping the same doctors with the same patients more often. This is an impressive achievement considering WellStar is a large multi-site group with many providers. Although most providers agreed with the change, others were hesitant. Through one-on-one conversations with his colleagues and group communication, he helped the hesitant providers appreciate the importance of this effort, building more trust with their patients.
Dr. Gold regularly presents at pediatric leadership forums, is a respected resource on vaccines, and works tirelessly with American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Georgia Chapter. As Chair of Quality and Safety at WellStar Pediatrics, he also works closely with Pharmacy and Clinical Services to establish the safest ways for storing and tracking vaccines, always putting quality and children’s safety first.
Because of Dr. Gold’s long standing commitment to immunization and his dedication to providing the best care to keep children safe and healthy he is Georgia’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Janelle Jinbo-Labuguen, NP, PhD
Family Medicine Practitioner, Tripler Army Medical Center
As a family medicine practitioner, National Guard member, community volunteer, and mother, Janelle Jinbo-Labuguen promotes collaboration and communication between the military, public health offices, and community organizations.
Described by her colleagues as someone who works tirelessly to ensure “that people in Hawaii are aware of the importance of appropriate immunization,” Ms. Jinbo-Labuguen has spent her career researching, advocating, and educating on immunization and public health.
As the Tripler Army Medical Center Immunization Coordinator, she works closely with the Department of Health to support immunizations of civilian children in the community – including staffing and coordinating immunization clinics.
Furthermore, Ms. Jinbo-Labuguen volunteers her personal time as Treasurer of Hawaii Immunization Coalition (HIC) and has been a member of the Hawaii Immunization Coalition Board of Directors since 2015. She is involved in every single HIC project and educational event. By also serving on the HIC Legislative subcommittee, she advocates for immunization by instating orders to check immunization records during each well-visit and to recommend vaccination for any child who is behind schedule. Working closely with the Department of Health, she also coordinates Department of Health immunization clinics that reach many members of the community.
With HIC, Ms. Jinbo-Labuguen organized the Coalition’s 2017 CDC Pink Book Course and coordinated a popular immunization conference. As the link between the health of the military and local communities, she successfully petitioned for Department of Defense leaders to discuss immunization barriers affecting non-VFC providers. This effort led to great ideas for promoting childhood vaccines.
For outstanding immunization efforts in her community, Janelle Jinbo-Labuguen is recognized as Hawaii’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion!
Patricia Herman, LPN
Immunization and Foreign Health Travel Coordinator (retired)
The Saltzer Medical Group
As a second grader in Idaho, Patricia Herman received a defective polio vaccine—one of many children who did so as part of the “Cutter Incident.” Fortunately she was unharmed, and was given a new polio vaccine three years later. This incident, along with her mother’s confidence in scientists and doctors, inspired Ms. Herman to dedicate her life to protecting children from disease by becoming a nurse.
Ms. Herman worked as a nurse for the Saltzer Medical Group for 38 years, serving as its immunization coordinator for 17 of those years. In this role, she supplied four medical offices with vaccines and educated staff about the state immunization registries, new vaccines, and the Vaccines for Children program. She also held leadership positions in the Canyon Area Immunization Coalition and the Idaho Immunization Coalition. She still continues to work with these groups after her retirement.
Ms. Herman was instrumental in the execution of several community education campaigns, including a campaign in Nampa and Melba that vaccinated over 11,000 children against hepatitis B. She also helped build community support through “Give Me Five,” an event celebrating children with up-to-date immunizations. This event has raised over $10,000 per year, for the past five years, to help promote immunization throughout Idaho. Thanks to Ms. Herman’s efforts, thousands of Idaho children are vaccinated.
Patricia Herman’s commitment to increasing immunization rates in her practice and state makes her Idaho’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Tenille Forbes, RN
Kickapoo Nation Health Center
Tenille Forbes currently leads the immunization program at the Kickapoo National Health Center, ensuring each patient’s immunization status is verified using the Kansas Immunization Information System. She also educates parents in her clinic and the broader community about the importance of immunizations through Project LAUNCH—a grant-funded program to build prevention-focused and comprehensive systems of support for children from birth to 8 years of age and their families.
Ms. Forbes exhibits compassion, tenderness and caring with patients who have concerns about vaccines or the health of their children. If she is not able to answer a question, she goes above and beyond to reach out and find the answer. Ms. Forbes has developed new ways to educate community members about the importance of immunization, such as creating a “Bee Wise” board in the clinic. When a child receives an immunization, a bee with the child’s initials is stapled to the board (with the parent’s permission) to recognize and reinforce a commitment to vaccination. This board is well loved by children and the wider community.
Additionally, Ms. Forbes has successfully revitalized the Health Center’s immunization program. In 2015, only 59 patients were immunized. This number increased to over 250 patients in 2016. For her dedication to educating the Kickapoo Nation about immunizations, Tenille Forbes is the Kansas 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Mazen Jaafar, MD
Pediatrician, Children’s Care of Eastern Kentucky
Originally a physician in Syria and Saudi Arabia for 11 years before moving to the United States, Dr. Mazen Jaafar experienced outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases such as hepatitis A and measles. His work during those outbreaks continues to motivate him to promote vaccines & educate vaccine hesitant parents about diseases and the dangers that communities face when parents reject or delay childhood vaccines.
After moving to the United States, Dr. Jaafar served as Chief of Pediatrics for Highlands Medical Center in Prestonsburg, KY and has been a pediatrician with Children’s Care of Eastern Kentucky for more than 23 years.
Dr. Jaafar actively distributes national and local health department information to parents, helping them understand the importance of vaccines and immunization schedules. Because of his commitment to vaccine education, the number of children vaccinated on schedule has significantly increased at Children’s Care of Eastern Kentucky.
Outside of his pediatric practice, Dr. Jaafar seeks partnerships and collaborates with the local health department and the Kentucky Immunization Program to ensure Children’s Care of Eastern Kentucky meets requirements and stays up to date with the most recent ACIP recommendations. Additionally, his commitment to personal conversations and stories from his medical experience, encourages vaccine hesitant or refusing parents to change their feelings on immunizing their child.
Dr. Mazen Jaafar’s tenure of work in pediatrics and his commitment to educating parents and providing them with the current vaccine resources makes him Kentucky’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion!
Dr. Joseph Bocchini, Jr., MD
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center
Dr. Joseph Bocchini first developed his passion for pediatrics in 1970 when he was an intern at the University of Connecticut. In 1997, he went to work at Louisiana State University’s (LSU) Department of Pediatrics, and immediately began to champion infant vaccines. In the years since, he raised a family and specialized in pediatrics. Because of these experiences, he realized the importance of immunizations for infants and children firsthand and continues to advocate for better vaccine policies and education.
Dr. Bocchini, a leader in childhood immunizations, holds numerous positions to advance the development and use of infant and pediatric vaccines, increase rates, and address hesitancy. He works closely with the Louisiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on legislative and policy issues and has served as their immunization representative to the national office for many years. As a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), Dr. Bocchini also serves as the chair for two ACIP workgroups.
Dr. Bocchini was also an early supporter of the Louisiana Shots for Tots program and advocated for the Louisiana Immunization Network for Kids. In this capacity, he added the entire Pediatric Clinic at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport (LSUHSC-Shreveport) to the registry. Dr. Bocchini especially advocates for policies that increase vaccine rates, ensure that Louisiana’s children receive the latest vaccine updates, and support new vaccines to protect more children against disease.
Dr. Bocchini also champions vaccines as Professor and Chairman for the Pediatrics Department at LSUHSC-Shreveport. Outside of higher education, he uses his teaching skills to mentor and educate other pediatricians on vaccine updates during Louisiana’s continuing education meetings.
For his work, Dr. Joseph Bocchini is Louisiana’s 2017 Childhood Immunization Champion!
Patricia Cook, RN
Lincoln Medical Partners Pediatrics
East Boothbay, ME
Throughout a nursing career spanning over 30 years, Patricia Cook has witnessed the effects of vaccine preventable diseases on children and their families. This inspired her to work hard to improve immunization rates by building immunization compliance into her practice’s quality measures.
Ms. Cook routinely reviews her practice’s immunization data and calls parents about upcoming or overdue immunizations. She begins immunization education in the first week of life by including evidence-based educational information in newborn packets and training her medical assistants to do the same. Taking the time to address parent’s concerns about vaccines, Ms. Cook uses plain language to describe how the vaccine schedule maximizes protection for children from vaccine preventable diseases.
In her role as the Maine Health Clinical Consultant, she is the content expert for immunization trainings. Fostering future generations of vaccine advocates, Ms. Cook also trains medical students at her pediatric practice on how to administer immunizations and conducts a train-the-trainer course teaching healthcare providers to serve as clinical skills evaluators. Furthermore, Ms. Cook also works with practices to address immunization barriers and serves as an integral resource for the implementation of local school-based health center immunization programs.
Thanks to Ms. Cook’s efforts, immunization compliance data within her practice and the practices she’s worked with regularly improve. Patricia Cook’s commitment to improving immunization coverage rates in her practice and her state makes her Maine’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Cody Meissner, MD, FAAP
Tufts Medical Center
Dr. Cody Meissner’s work on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Committee on Infectious Diseases (COID) of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) inspires him to champion childhood vaccines. Working with those groups, Dr. Meissner sees the vast amount of work that goes into ensuring access to safe and effective vaccines. Furthermore, he witnesses the huge benefit that vaccines provide for all children firsthand through his work as a pediatrician.
For more than 35 years, Dr. Meissner has been a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist at Tufts Medical Center. Currently, he is Chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease for the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center. At Tufts Medical Center, colleagues and patients know he is a passionate infectious disease and immunization expert.
As a professor and co-director of the Clinical and Translational Research Center at Tufts University School of Medicine, Dr. Meissner shares his outstanding immunization knowledge with his medical students and residents. He teaches Massachusetts pediatric health care providers at webinars, conferences, and Grand Rounds seminars to help others learn more about vaccinations and how to increase vaccination rates. He also helps educate other doctors about vaccines as Associate Editor of AAP’s Visual Red Book and as author in major scientific journals and publications including AAP’s official news magazine, AAPNews.
Dr. Cody Meissner is Massachusetts’ 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion because of his dedicated work to educate health care providers, publish important vaccine information, and advocate for childhood vaccine policies.
Mary Zimmerman, RN, BSN
Immunization Manager, Spectrum Health System
Ms. Mary Zimmerman began her nursing career as a pediatric intensive care nurse at the University of Michigan. Her experience working with infants profoundly impacted her. “When you witness a baby die of pertussis or another of rotavirus, needlessly, those images have a way of haunting you forever,” she explains. Because of what she has seen, Ms. Zimmerman is passionate about doing all she can to protect children from the dangers caused by otherwise preventable diseases.
Ms. Zimmerman’s outstanding support for Michigan’s immunizations has helped many providers change their beliefs and behaviors about vaccines as a result of her advocacy and innovative approaches. She strives to be a voice for those with no voice, especially infants. Because of that, she has personally created a “Rate and Rank” report that captures childhood vaccination coverage levels at each Spectrum Health clinic and publishes the report for all Spectrum Health staff members to see. This transparency has improved providers’ motivation, encouraged providers to do the right thing, and caused vaccination coverage levels to grow throughout the organization.
Ms. Zimmerman has also been an excellent leader in immunization education and partnerships. Because of her work, Spectrum uses a process called “Standard Works” to provide step by step information on “all things immunization” which includes using an IT program alongside the MCIR system to keep records up to date. Ms. Zimmerman also leads in identifying, training, and certifying new Provider Immunization Leads in 20 different Spectrum Health offices. As a collaborative leader, Ms. Zimmerman works with state and county health departments by providing vaccine education and offering resources to parents and providers. She also works closely with her peers within and outside of Spectrum Health to ensure everyone has access to the best educational resources to raise vaccination rates.
Without question, Ms. Zimmerman is an outstanding advocate, educator, and innovator and is Michigan’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion!
Jennifer Brickley, RN
Employee and Community Health Immunization Coordinator
Southeast Minnesota Immunization Program
For over twenty years as a pediatric nurse, Jennifer Brickley has identified numerous ways to successfully reduce vaccination errors and improve immunization practices. Witnessing the severe consequences of vaccine preventable diseases while working in the pediatric intensive care unit made Ms. Brickley a passionate advocate for immunization.
As an immunization program coordinator at the Mayo Clinic, Ms. Brickley developed nurse protocols for all routine and high risk vaccines to prevent immunization errors. She implemented a recall program to identify 18 month olds not up to date on their vaccinations and helped establish a single childhood immunization schedule across all of the Mayo Clinic’s major campuses. Ms. Brickley also collaborates with the Clinic’s nurse advocates in order to facilitate appropriate and on-time vaccination and serves as chair-elect on the board of directors of the Southeast Minnesota Immunization Connection (SEMIC).
The recall system implemented by Ms. Brickley has reduced the percentage of children 0-24 months who are not up to date on their vaccines by 50%. She achieved 100% participation in the Vaccines for Children Program among all of the Clinic’s primary sites and full participation in the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection registry. Thanks to her efforts, the county received an award in 2016 for its childhood immunization rates.
For her commitment to reducing vaccination errors and improving immunization rates at the Mayo Clinic and in her community, Ms. Brickley is Minnesota’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Claudine Stevens, MD
Greenwood Children’s Clinic
Born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, Dr. Claudine Stevens witnessed the poverty prevalent in the region and decided to dedicate her life to helping those in need. After attending medical school at the University of Mississippi, she made a commitment to improving the lives of children in her state through immunization.
An active member of the Mississippi chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Stevens is a state leader and innovator when it comes to increasing vaccine access to underserved populations. Partnering with the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) on community planning and problem solving, her goal is to successfully reduce immunization disparities. As part of her efforts to achieve this goal, she led the Vaccines for Children (VFC) enrollment process for numerous schools in her area, enabling them to provide immunizations to school children.
Dr. Stevens also takes an active role in training her own staff on the importance of immunization, strategies for reducing missed opportunities, and how to use the state registry to track immunization rates. She is a strong advocate for immunizations with her patients, peers, and the local community hospital. These efforts have facilitated access to vaccines and preventive services for children who might not have otherwise received them.
Dr. Stevens’ commitment to reducing immunization disparities in her state makes her Mississippi’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Lori Weishaar, RN
Lead Nurse/VFC Coordinator, MOSAIC Life Care
St. Joseph, MO
Over her 30 year career as a pediatric nurse, Lori Weishaar witnessed many children contract vaccine-preventable diseases. She distinctly remembers when a young child contracted pneumococcal disease andsadly, later died from it. Because she knew this child could have been protected from such an unfortunate outcome, Ms. Weishaar became a strong advocate for vaccines to ensure all kids in her care are protected.
As the Lead Nurse at Lakeside Pediatrics (part of MOASIC Life Care), Ms. Weishaar goes above and beyond to promote immunizations at her practice and within the entire MOSAIC Life Care organization. She educates colleagues and ensures all immunization staff are knowledgeable and comfortable discussing ACIP’s vaccine recommendations.
Ms. Weishaar takes a hands on approach as she mentors and trains staff throughout MOSAIC’s 12 pediatric clinics. She takes time to lead unique trainings covering subjects of new employees, professional development, and continuing education. Numerous MOSAIC clinics depend on Ms. Weishaar for technical assistance for their VFC programs, electronic medical records, and coding issues. Her leadership also extends to her role as chair for monthly Lead Nurse meetings throughout the organization. During these meetings, she introduces newly available vaccines and provides updates on usage recommendations.
Last year, Ms. Weishaar advocated for organization-wide immunization policies requiring all patients to be vaccinated according to ACIP recommendations. Thanks to her efforts with Lakeside Pediatric physicians and nurses, the new vaccination policy was accepted and began in 2016. As a result, vaccination rates in the clinic are rising.
Thanks to her leadership, advocacy, and commitment ensuring her team of nurses is equipped to successfully give vaccines, Ms. Weishaar is Missouri’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion!
Kathryn Lysinger, M.D.
Pediatrician, Billings Clinic – Pediatrics
As a pediatrician, Dr. Kathryn Lysinger spends much of her day educating families about immunizations and giving vaccines to children. While at work, Dr. Lysinger discovered that even well-educated and motivated pediatricians in her clinic struggled to improve vaccination rates. This inspired her to join other health care providers from all over Montana to learn from each other, improve rates, and champion vaccines. Even in a small state, Dr. Lysinger believes few small changes make a big difference!
As a pediatrician, Dr. Lysinger educates families and makes strong vaccine recommendations. She also led her clinic in quality improvement initiatives, including a study which evaluated clinic visits and vaccination rates of those patients. Using what she learned from the studies, Dr. Lysinger improved the coverage rates of two year olds within her practice by creating opportunities to vaccinate and calling patients who were behind schedule.
As Chair of the Montana Chapter of AAP’s immunization committee, Dr. Lysinger collaborates with other pediatricians in Montana to educate others, advocate for vaccines, and develop immunization best practices. With Dr. Lysinger as leader, this group held an immunization workshop for physicians and created a video of a 90 year old pediatrician discussing the importance of vaccines and changes to school requirements.
For her leadership within the Montana Chapter of the AAP and her commitment to immunizing all children at her practice, Dr. Kathryn Lysinger is Montana’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion!
JoAnn Rupiper, MPH, BSN
Employee Health Nurse, Southern Nevada Health District
Las Vegas, NV
For 35 years in public health and pediatric nursing, JoAnn Rupiper has diligently applied her vast knowledge to support childhood immunization throughout Nevada. In her professional work and volunteer time, Ms. Rupiper ensures the health and safety of thousands of infants, toddlers, teens, and expectant moms by managing Southern Nevada Health District Perinatal Hepatitis B Program, Vaccines for Children program, community outreach, and Immunization Child Care programs. In her current role, Ms. Rupiper educates over 500 public health staff regularly about the importance of vaccination from childhood to adulthood.
Ms. Rupiper began her career as pediatric nurse where she helped children fight vaccine preventable diseases such as meningitis, pertussis, and pneumonia. From this experience, she was inspired to pursue a career in public health and immunization. In 25 years of immunization work, she has seen the introduction of new vaccines and subsequent reduction in the once devastating diseases she helped small children to fight.
Through her work in public health, Ms. Rupiper has improved vaccine compliance at over 150 child care centers in Las Vegas and organized immunization activities with National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) Shots for Tots, Homeless Connect, and child care and school clinics. Ms. Rupiper also coordinated flu vaccine clinics for Head Start children and staff, keeping Nevada’s youngest and most vulnerable residents protected. Additionally, during National Infant Immunization Week 2016, she organized a baby shower for underserved parents with newborns and offered immunizations, family resources, and community connections.
Ms. Rupiper’s continued advocacy for school immunization requirements encourages school nurses to help their students start school on time and has lowered Nevada’s number of unvaccinated children. Because of her commitment to educating parents about vaccines, Nevada has consistently high numbers of vaccinated kindergarteners.
Outside of her professional work, Ms. Rupiper is a leader in Immunize Nevada and ensures immunization education is available to both community members and healthcare professionals. As a chair and committee participant, she works with Immunize Nevada to grow programs and support trainings. She also meets with the media, provides webinar-based training for the Nevada Immunization Learning Exchange, and offers outreach to community organizations and her colleagues at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. For her excellent volunteer work, Ms. Rupiper has been awarded many Silver Syringe Awards by Immunize Nevada.
JoAnn Rupiper’s outstanding work in childhood immunizations, as a professional, educator, and volunteer, makes her Nevada’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Robert Kelly, MD
Epsom Family Medicine
Epsom, New Hampshire
Dr. Robert C. Kelly, a Board Certified Family Practice Physician, has a long history of serving on a variety of boards and organizations focusing on the health and well-being of children. As a former math and science teacher, Dr. Kelly’s experience in education and his work advocating for children continued as he began his medical career. His advocacy and outreach efforts have created many new partnerships with the shared goal of improving health outcomes and increasing and maintaining childhood immunization rates.
Dr. Kelly is a strong immunization clinical resource as well as a highly acclaimed speaker on childhood immunizations. Additionally, Dr. Kelly also serves on the New Hampshire (NH) Vaccine Selection Committee, responsible for the review and recommendation of vaccines for the NH Immunization Program.
Dr. Kelly always looks to improve his clinic and takes the lead to find collaboration partners on immunization initiatives. For example, Dr. Kelly developed a program in his clinic to increase vaccination rates by encouraging clinic staff use specific language when talking to parents considering vaccination for their children. Because it was so successful, many Concord Hospital-owned practices started using his program. Dr. Kelly also works with numerous healthcare practices and health care providers around New Hampshire to reduce missed immunization opportunities. As a result, childhood vaccinations have increased.
Dr. Kelly’s leadership, contribution, and tireless work on behalf of all families resulted in improved communication and quality improvement strategies. These strategies have led to increased childhood immunization coverage rates both state-wide and in many of the Concord Hospital-owned practices where he is employed. Through the development and successful implementation of his communication and missed opportunities strategies, clinic staff and patients are better informed and clinic staff can address potential missed opportunities before they occur. This makes Dr. Kelly New Hampshire’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion!
Candelaria Garcia, LPN
Santo Domingo Pueblo, NM
Candelaria Garcia, a tribal member of Santo Domingo Pueblo, practiced nursing for 47 years. In her long career, and even now in her retirement, Garcia’s focus on childhood immunizations has made a positive change in children’s health in her Pueblo.
Ms. Garcia goes above and beyond to reach all children in her Pueblo, making sure they receive their immunizations and working with local leaders to promote vaccines. As a longstanding member of the Pueblo, she knows where families with children live and is often welcomed into homes to administer shots. She also has a special talent for reaching children without a home phone or access to transportation and are especially difficult to find. She goes to them!
Because of her tireless efforts, the Santo Domingo Public Health Center received awards from the New Mexico Department of Health for achieving vaccination rates above 90% in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, and 2014. Particularly because of Ms. Garcia’s work, the Center obtained a 100% vaccination rate in 2015. Additionally, among health professionals in her community, she personally vaccinated the most children in the last few years. Currently, her immunization tracking system has over 1,200 children who regularly see her for vaccinations.
Apart from making sure all children in her Pueblo are immunized, Ms. Garcia also mentors other nurses and medical assistants in her clinic on shot techniques, storage, and how to create accurate vaccine records. As Vaccine Clinic Coordinator at Santo Domingo Health Center for the NM Vaccines for Children Program, she is a connection point to the Center’s staff. Ms. Garcia is known to regularly share new information and practices she learns at annual trainings with her colleagues.
Ms. Garcia’s long nursing career and outstanding efforts in childhood immunizations should serve as an inspiration to all, in New Mexico and across the nation. This makes her New Mexico’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion!
Emmanuel Benjamin Walter, Jr., MD, MPH
Professor of Pediatrics
Duke University Medical Center
Dr. Emmanuel Walter’s passion for vaccines started with his interest in pediatrics when he was in medical school. He has dedicated his career to researching vaccines and ensuring that parents and clinicians are well informed about vaccine preventable diseases.
In addition to serving as a Professor of Pediatrics, Dr. Walter is the Director of the Clinical Vaccine Unit at Duke’s Human Vaccine Institute. He serves on the North Carolina Immunization Advisory Committee and is a subject matter expert for the state immunization program. He is also a current member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Dr. Walter has authored dozens of academic articles on vaccine research, from the initial stages of early research, clinical development, and regulatory approval.
Dr. Walter remains an active clinician, caring for pediatric patients at the Roxboro Street Primary Care Clinic, Duke Children’s Primary Care Practice, and Durham Regional Hospital. Dr. Walter explains, “I can tell you in the 25 years that I have done well visits I always considered giving vaccines to be the crown jewel of every encounter” and that “I was continually reassured that I had something really valuable to offer the parent and child at the end of their visit.”
For his commitment to vaccine research and pediatric care, Dr. Walter is North Carolina’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion!
Chantel Hillius-Kramlich, RN
Health Care Coach
Mid Dakota Clinic
As a nurse in central North Dakota, Chantel Hillius-Kramlich cares for several patients suffering from vaccine preventable diseases. Simply knowing vaccines would lead to better health outcomes for these patients inspires Chantel to be a champion for immunization.
As the Health Care Coach at the Mid Dakota Clinic, Ms. Hillius-Kramlich acts as the primary contact, advocate, and source of information for her patients and the community partners who help treat them. Her mission is simple: encourage childhood immunization by reaching parents of young children. To this end, Chantel personally calls parents to make sure children are up-to-date on their vaccines and helps them schedule immunization follow-up appointments. If parents can’t make it to the Clinic, she connects them with resources in their communities to ensure children get their shots. Ms. Hillius-Kramlich also works with physicians and nurses to increase their awareness and understanding of childhood immunization. She has even brought health care professionals to the North Dakota Department of Health to meet with staff and collaborate and brainstorm on innovative ways to ensure more children complete all their recommended vaccines on time.
Thanks to Ms. Hillius-Kramlich’s efforts, the Mid Dakota Clinic now has an immunization committee and staff in its various clinic locations who tirelessly champion childhood immunizations. Ms. Hillius-Kramlich also continues to standardize immunization schedules, improve the consistency of recalls, and increase staff education about childhood immunization.
Ms. Hillius-Kramlich’s commitment to improving immunization rates in her clinic and her inspiration to inform other immunization advocates makes her North Dakota’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
Cynthia Modie, MEd, RN
Director of Community Health
Lorain County General Health District
When she attended her first state immunization conference, Cynthia Modie heard nationally known experts describe the devastating impact of vaccine preventable diseases. This experience inspired her to make a positive impact on vaccination rates through targeted education efforts.
Ms. Modie is the Director of Community Health for the Lorain County General Health District. In this role, and in her previous work with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, she led several community education campaigns. Some of her previous work includes Vaccinate Before You Graduate and Pictures of Health in collaboration with Cleveland’s Metropark Zoo. Ms. Modie also serves as the Director of Immunize Ohio—a collaborative of professional organizations working to improve immunization coverage in Ohio through education. Ms. Modie is the driving force behind the Immunize Ohio conferences conducted throughout the state. She personally recruits speakers and oversees a committee that secures sponsors and vendors and processes CE credits.
Thanks to Ms. Modie’s efforts, Ohio health care providers, their staff, and parents are better prepared to protect their communities from vaccine preventable diseases.
For her commitment to expanding vaccine education in her state, Ms. Modie is Ohio’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion!
Quality Care Specialist
Klamath Health Partnership
Klamath Falls, OR
Growing up, Jacie Zahler felt a calling to help future generations and became involved in an organization that empowered youth. She was fortunate to work with health care providers who taught her about the importance of immunization, sparked her curiosity to learn more about vaccines, and led to her work in the health care field.
As a Quality Care Specialist with the Klamath Health Partnership, Ms. Zahler secured an agreement allowing the Partnership to become a delegate site for the Klamath County Health Department. She has been instrumental in developing the immunization workflow at the Health Partnership’s main clinic and expanding it to two additional sites. She coordinates vaccine supply for all three clinics and trains staff on vaccine administration and forecasting.
Ms. Zahler’s desire to learn new reporting techniques helped eliminate errors in the Partnership’s electronic medical record (EMR). She also updated well child templates in the EMR for automatic vaccine forecasting during well child check-ups and works closely with the Oregon Immunization Program and the Klamath County Health Department to develop immunization plans for patients who are behind on their vaccines.
Thanks to Ms. Zahler’s efforts, the number of vaccines administered by the Partnership through the Vaccines for Children program increased 50% from 2014 to 2016. She has also expanded access to immunizations by organizing flu vaccine events at local schools.
For her efforts to improve the quality and availability of immunization services in her community, Ms. Zahler is Oregon’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion!
Theresa Zengolewicz, RN
Clinical Coordinator, Crozer Pediatrics
Working as a nurse and Clinical Coordinator at Crozer Pediatrics has made Theresa Zengolewicz a passionate champion for childhood immunization. Her work has made her even more committed to making sure children are able to live healthy lives and become the incredible people they strive to be. Ms. Zengolewicz’s love for her community shows itself in her work and she is honored to educate families, make a difference in others’ lives, and protect children from vaccine preventable diseases.
As nurse at a residency outpatient practice, education and evidence-based medicine shapes Ms.Zengolewicz’s work. Theresa educates those around her about immunization, from pediatricians and medical students, to fellow nurses and medical receptionists. Theresa is the “go-to person” for the entire Crozer Pediatric network and often receives calls from other practices who look to her for answers and advice about vaccine practices and safety.
She also brings her knowledge to vaccine conversations with parents. Ms. Zengolewicz is known to empathize with families’ concerns and make sure parents’ fears are alleviated and their children leave with up-to-date vaccines. Her calming demeanor and vast knowledge helps parents understand vaccines and how keep their children safe through immunizations.
Innovative, diligent, and strategic in her work, Ms. Zengolewicz ensures her practice is equipped to help children, but also that other practices nearby are able to as well. At her office, Ms. Zengolewicz goes out of her way to make sure children who miss their well-visits are immunized in order to prevent vaccine preventable diseases from emerging in the community. She also keeps the practice up to date on immunization recommendations and studies and proactively seeks out changes and new recommendations. Ms. Zengolewicz not only shares what she learns with her staff and pediatricians, but also to Crozer’s entire pediatrics program and network of practices. Because she is invested in the health of all children in her community, Ms. Zengolewicz was very innovative during a vaccine shortage, where she found alternative effective vaccines for her practice so other nearby practices in need could keep kids up to date on shots. She also helps to assure children with fewer resources are vaccinated as a Coordinator for Vaccines for Children.
Theresa Zengolewicz is a true Immunization Champion for Pennsylvania. Because of her passion, innovative strategies, and commitment to empathy and education, Ms. Zengolewicz has strengthened children at her practice and throughout her community against vaccine-preventable diseases. This makes her Pennsylvania’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion!
Siavash Ghoreishi, MD
East Greenwich, RI
Growing up in Iran, Siavash Ghoreishi saw children with polio and the hardships they endured, and he thought to himself “wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a way this could be prevented?” Early in his medial career, Dr. Ghoreishi worked for two years with the Iranian National Health Department as a clinical physician in a rural area with an under-privileged population. During this time he became actively involved in teaching families to keep up with immunizations.
Dr. Ghoreishi is able to draw on these experiences while communicating the importance of immunizing children to Rhode Island families in his practice. He will often say to a hesitant parent, “You wouldn’t dream of leaving my office without putting your child in a car seat, why in the world would you leave without vaccinating your child?” Despite not having electronic health records, Dr. Ghoreishi has managed to achieve high immunization rates using simple practices, such as running monthly reports in KIDSNET, the state immunization registry. His staff runs reports every two weeks and contacts families of children who are overdue for vaccines.
Dr. Ghoreishi’s concern for his patients and his office’s ongoing efforts have resulted in exceptional immunization rates. A March 2017 assessment of children in his practice revealed that 91% had completed the DTaP, Polio, MMR, Hib, HepB, Varicella, PCV series by their second birthdays, and 100% of them had received influenza vaccine the previous season.
For his commitment to achieving high immunization rates within his pediatric practice, Dr. Ghoreishi is Rhode Island’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion!
Satya Chakrabarty, MD, FAAP
Tennessee Pediatric & Adolescent Center
Before practicing pediatrics in Tennessee, Dr. Satya Chakrabarty treated patients in various parts of the world. Because he grew up and worked in an environment with limited healthcare resources, he often touches upon his background when educating parents on the importance of vaccines to protect their children from dangerous diseases.
Dr. Chakrabarty is a pediatrician who cares deeply about his patients’ health and well-being. His office hosts Well Child days at least once a month to immunize patients who may have fallen behind on the vaccine schedule and accommodates children who may be uninsured for a period of time by scheduling vaccine only appointments. His practice also offers combined well and immunization visits (especially to children 0-2). If a child comes in sick and is behind on their vaccines, he will make sure to vaccinate, as long as the child falls within CDC’s vaccination guidelines.
He also gives a strong recommendation for vaccines and shares their benefits with every parent, even if they want their child to be exempt. Thanks to his hard work and leadership, his practice currently has a vaccination rate of 90%. Together with his office staff and colleagues, he educates parents in a way that builds trust and ensures kids are vaccinated. Former patients who learned the value of vaccines from Dr. Chakrabarty now bring their babies to him for vaccination.
Outside of his practice, Dr. Chakrabarty educates everyone he can reach within his community about the importance of vaccines at open houses, health fairs, and public health initiatives. He shares vaccine schedules, and even offers flu vaccines at these events. He is an AAP Fellow, an active member of the Cumberland Pediatric Society, and a member of the Tennessee Pediatric Association. His commitments to supporting vaccines in his practice and in his state make him Tennessee’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion!
Lacey Eden MS, FNP-C
Assistant Teaching Professor, Brigham Young University
Lacey Eden is an educator, nurse practitioner, innovator, and vaccine activist from Provo, Utah. She is the current chair of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Immunization Special Interest Group.
Ms. Eden began her health career working in a newborn intensive care unit where she gained an appreciation for the role immunization has in positive health outcomes for vaccine preventable diseases.
Ms. Eden’s passion for vaccination grew even more when she discovered that 15% of students at her children’s school were not fully immunized. She understood the potential risk it presented to infants and immunocompromised children within her community. After discovering this, Ms. Eden knew she wanted to do more to keep all members of her community safe through vaccination.
Currently, Ms. Eden teaches students at Brigham Young University’s (BYU) College of Nursing to be agents of change and future leaders in nursing and public health. Along with her colleagues at BYU, she researches why parents refuse or are hesitant about vaccines. This research inspired her to create a mobile app called “Best For Baby” to better reach pregnant mothers with information about immunizations for them and their newborn. Outside of higher education, Ms. Eden also regularly speaks on local radio and television programs, such as “Good Things Utah,” to teach parents the significance of high vaccine exemption rates.
Ms. Eden also organized a statewide collaboration of parents, teachers, and healthcare workers in support of immunizations and inspired the Utah State Health Department to create an Exemption Workgroup. In this workgroup, Ms. Eden and other health professionals meet monthly to bring their scientific expertise to vaccine exemption policies in Utah and the United States.
Without question, Lacey Eden’s creative work, continued advocacy for policy change, and commitment to education makes her Utah’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion!
Jamie Sgro, RN
The Pediatric Center
Glen Allen, VA
As the Nurse Manager and head of the vaccine committee at The Pediatric Center in Glen Allen, Virginia, Jamie Sgro works tirelessly to improve immunization practices and access to childhood vaccines. Her efforts encompass all steps of the vaccination process, from ordering vaccines to educating parents on the importance of adhering to immunization schedules.
Within her role, Ms. Sgro has implemented new vaccine ordering protocols, ensuring a consistent and adequate vaccine supply while eliminating waste. She created a new illustrated labeling system for uniform storage in dedicated Vaccines for Children storage units, thereby reducing the time that refrigerators and freezers are open. She also ensures all offices in the practice obtain new stand-alone storage units and temperature monitoring system that exceed CDC recommendations on vaccine storage and handling.
Ms. Sgro facilitates reminder calls and appointments to make it more convenient for families to make sure children are current on their vaccines. She also schedules flu clinics hours on Saturdays and makes the flu vaccine available to patients’ family members. Additionally, she posted the immunization schedule on the practice website and placed immunization information in exam rooms to educate patients on vaccines. Nurses in the practice have also received more immunization education, thanks to Ms. Sgro’s requirement that they complete CDC’s You Call the Shots modules.
Ms. Sgro’s leadership guarantees that patients can access timely immunizations at every possible opportunity. Thanks to her efforts, each of The Pediatric Center’s three offices achieved a 92% coverage rate for the 4:3:1:3:3:1:4 series in 2016.
Ms. Sgro’s commitment to improving vaccination protocols and practices makes her Virginia’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion!
Elias Kass, ND, LM, CPM
One Sky Family Medicine
Dr. Elias Kass is a midwife and naturopathic pediatric primary care provider from Seattle, Washington. As a naturopath, he highly values vaccines for their ability to prevent disease by stimulating the body’s immune system. He promotes immunization to his patients, colleagues, the public, and community partners. Aside from influencing parents to vaccinate their children, he is also an immunization leader by promoting vaccine culture within the naturopathic medical community.
Dr. Kass promotes vaccine acceptance by patiently counseling parents on the recommended immunization schedule. Many of Dr. Kass’s patients are immunized because of his dedication to promoting immunizations, even when it takes a lot of time and trust building.
Dr. Elias Kass also uses his expertise to promote vaccines by educating the public on how they align with naturopathic principles. He does this as a contributor to the website NDs for Vaccines, a platform for pro-vaccine naturopaths to share information with each other and the public about immunization benefits. Dr. Kass is also part of the clinical team that manages The Vaccine Page on Facebook, a “resource for vaccine-hesitant parents and parents-to-be to get clear, evidence-based answers.”
Among naturopathic colleagues, Dr. Kass is a resource, leader, and innovator that ensures parents are well educated about infant vaccines before they have their babies. Dr. Kass will soon present to Washington’s Vaccine Advisory Committee and Vax Northwest’s research partnership about hesitancy and opportunities to promote immunization in midwife and naturopathic settings. He also mentors naturopathic colleagues and students through organizations such as Bastyr University and the Naturopathic Academy of Primary Care Physicians.
Dr. Kass has built bridges between the naturopathic community and other allied health professionals to encourage interdisciplinary cooperation and address vaccine hesitancy. His commitment to children’s health and promoting immunization across all sectors and disciplines is notable. His communication with parents, colleagues, and the general public are essential to getting more children vaccinated. This makes Dr. Kass Washington’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion!
John Fernald, MD
Dr. John Fernald has over 12 years of experience as a pediatrician caring for children in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to improving the health of many children in Virginia and West Virginia, Fernald has also provided pediatric care as an Army service member in Germany and South Korea, a squadron surgeon during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and a staff pediatrician for Operation Lifeline in Pakistan.
Dr. Fernald is committed to making his practice family-friendly and has expanded office hours to better meet the needs of parents in his community of Beaver, WV and surrounding areas. Since Dr. Fernald’s community experienced economic and social upheaval in recent years, his priority has been to give children of working parents better access to health care. Undoubtedly, for both parents and children, Dr. Fernald makes it easier to stay on schedule with ACIP recommended immunizations.
Dr. Fernald also encourages his team to ensure that all immunizations given in the office are reported to West Virginia’s Immunization Information System (ISS) quickly and accurately. Because of his ongoing commitment to increasing childhood immunization rates in West Virginia, Dr. Fernald’s practice was one of the first in the state to test a new IIS consumer access module. Together with his staff, Dr. Fernald provides parents with direct access to their child’s immunization records. This helps parents know what vaccines their child needs, stay on the recommended schedule, and easily print vaccine completion certificates for school entry.
As an innovator and advocate, Dr. Fernald is passionate about improving the lives of his patients and the overall health of his community. His willingness to lead with new technologies and increase accessibility of immunizations for working families makes him West Virginia’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion!
Lori Plenge, Pediatric LPN
Throughout a career spanning 32 years as a Pediatric LPN, Lori Plenge witnessed children suffer from many vaccine preventable diseases. She discovered early in her career this unnecessary suffering was the result of missed opportunities to vaccinate. Ms. Plenge quickly decided to dedicate her career to immunizing her patients on time and avoiding these missed opportunities. Today, she explains “it is [still] very satisfying to see a child’s immunization record up to date and know they are protected.”
As an advocate, Ms. Plenge convinced her clinic to host Green County Immunization Coalition’s meetings. As a lead Coalition member, she partners with Green County public health leaders and encourages other clinics to participate in the Coalition. Knowing the burden of achieving immunization goals often falls to public health departments in rural areas, Ms. Plenge advocates strongly for vaccine awareness in private clinics.
One way Ms. Plenge creates awareness in her clinic is by promoting vaccines in one-on-one conversations with parents. Her calls regularly inspire parents to vaccinate on time and lower parents’ hesitancy about vaccines during appointments. Many rural Wisconsin families delay vaccines or use alternative schedules, but her educational conversations with parents have greatly improved vaccine compliance rates in her community.
For example, thanks to Ms. Plenge’s vaccine advocacy in her practice and community, rural Green County, increased the 24 month vaccination rate from 75.74% in 2013 to 81.50% in 2015. In addition, the county’s Tdap and Polio vaccine rates meet the Healthy People 2020 goal to have at least 90% of the population vaccinated. Ms. Plenge’s Green County also excels in other vaccine series rates above other rural counties and even has higher rates than some neighboring urban counties.
Ms. Plenge also educates others in the immunization community by sharing what does and does not work in her clinic. She responds to concerns from medical providers in her community who have been reluctant to use the CDC’s recommended schedule and instead use “alternative schedules.” Her educational conversations have been successful in teaching other providers about the importance of the official schedule and that it offers the best and safest outcomes for their patients. Through these conversations and sharing current research, Ms. Plenge influenced them to follow the recommended schedule.
Ms. Plenge’s influence with health care providers and parents, work in vaccine education, and efforts to make sure children receive vaccines on time has greatly improved Wisconsin’s vaccination rates. For these reasons she is Wisconsin’s 2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion!
Learn about all of the Champion Award Winners.