Champion Award Winners

The CDC Childhood Immunization Awards, 2018

Champion Award

The CDC Childhood Immunization Champion Award, given jointly by the CDC Foundation and CDC, honors individuals who are doing an exemplary job or going above and beyond to promote childhood immunizations in their communities.

2018 Award Winners

These are the 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champions, recognized during National Infant Immunization Week, April 21-28, 2018.

Click a letter and select a state to see that state’s awardee. (Note that some states did not participate this year.)

  1. A
  2. C
  3. D
  4. F
  5. G
  6. H
  7. I
  8. K
  9. M
  10. N
  11. O
  12. R
  13. S
  14. U
  15. V
  16. W

Jump to:
Alaska   |   Arizona   |   Arkansas


Robyn Kylea Goff, PharmD

Robyn Kylea Goff, PharmD
Assistant Director of Pharmacy
Norton Sound Health Corporation
Nome, AK

Robyn Kylea Goff’s uncle contracted polio in his youth and suffered from post-polio syndrome as an adult. Witnessing the long-term effects of polio motivated Ms. Goff to ensure all children have access to life-saving vaccines.

A clinical pharmacist, Ms. Goff works for the Norton Sound Health Corporation (NSHC) in northwest Alaska. Traditional pediatric visits are difficult to organize in the region’s remote villages because many are not accessible by road. Ms. Goff optimized well-child visits by organizing a 3-day clinic in the remote village of Shishmaref. At this clinic, children could see an NSHC healthcare team that included a physician, nurse, and two pharmacists. The team provided over 175 vaccinations in 48 hours and achieved a 47% increase in the series completion rate for local children.

Ms. Goff is a collaborator and innovator when it comes to increasing vaccination rates. Ms. Goff collaborates with case managers, village health personnel, primary care physicians, and pharmacy staff. She influenced NSHC to change its policies to allow pharmacists to vaccinate children of all ages. She also developed new strategies to increase school-based flu vaccination, such as sending home parent permission slips before pharmacists arrived at schools. Thanks to the expanded use of pharmacists, 1,163 children received the flu vaccine this flu season (compared to only 867 in 2016-17).

For her dedication to immunizing the children of northwest Alaska, Robyn Kylea Goff is Alaska’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.


LCDR Greg Sarchet, PharmD

LCDR Greg Sarchet, PharmD
Clinical Pharmacist
Whiteriver Indian Hospital, US Public Health Service
Whiteriver, AZ

Lieutenant Commander Greg Sarchet worked as an emergency department clinical pharmacist for ten years. During this time, he witnessed many children suffer and die from vaccine-preventable diseases. These difficult experiences inspired his proactive approach to disease prevention.

When he became an immunization coordinator at Whiteriver Indian Hospital, LCDR Sarchet began scheduling immunization days at childcare facilities using a team of pharmacists and pharmacy students. Under his leadership, one childcare facility increased vaccination rates from 39% to 98%, while a second childcare facility went from 9% to 100% fully vaccinated. LCDR Sarchet also helped local schools and Head Start programs adopt a similar process to increase vaccination rates.

Over the years, LCDR Sarchet has built trusting relationships with parents and childcare managers. These relationships have enabled him to expand his outreach efforts. Whiteriver Indian Hospital did not have an outreach program before he took over as immunization coordinator, but now the hospital has administered almost 4,000 vaccines at community events. Organizations at the regional and national level have noticed LCDR Sarchet’s accomplishments. For example, the US Public Health Service invited LCDR Sarchet to present on improving community partnerships and enhancing the pharmacist’s role in childhood immunization.

For his dedication to increasing immunization rates among Native American children, LCDR Greg Sarchet is Arizona’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.


José Romero, MD, FAAP

José Romero, MD, FAAP
Medical Director, Arkansas Children’s Hospital
Professor of Pediatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Little Rock, AR

Dr. José Romero’s interest in childhood immunization began during a poliovirus lecture in medical school, where he learned how vaccines saved lives by preventing the spread of polio. Understanding the importance of vaccines helped initiate Dr. Romero’s career as a champion of childhood immunizations.

As a tenured professor of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas, Dr. Romero has great influence on the next generation of doctors. He always tells his trainees, “No other medical intervention has such a profound and long lasting effect as vaccination.” Dr. Romero sees Hib disease as a salient example. “There wasn’t a day during my residency that we didn’t have at least one child with Hib-related disease,” Dr. Romero said. “Those who follow us may never see a case.”

Dr. Romero is a prominent leader in both local and national organizations focused on immunization. At the local level, he is a member of the childhood immunization workgroup within the Arkansas Immunization Action Coalition. His critical analysis of vaccine data has helped Arkansas through a number of influenza, pertussis, mumps, and measles outbreaks. Dr. Romero also chairs the vaccine medical advisory committee for the Arkansas Department of Health. At the national level, Dr. Romero serves as a liaison between the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

For his collaboration and leadership at local, state and national levels, Dr. José Romero is Arkansas’ 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.


Jump to:
California   |   Colorado   |   Connecticut


Kendra Mitchell

Kendra Mitchell
Vaccine Coordinator
Shingletown Medical Center
Shingletown, CA

Kendra Mitchell’s love for children has inspired her work in pediatrics. A certified medical assistant, Ms. Mitchell has served as the Shingletown Medical Center’s vaccine coordinator for the past three years.

Ms. Mitchell maintains the Medical Center’s vaccine inventory. She implemented a new inventory system that saves time and reduces stress for other staff. She also mails postcards to parents to remind them of upcoming visits, makes follow-up phone calls, and reduces missed opportunities by converting sick visits into well visits with vaccinations. Ms. Mitchell pulls vaccine reports by age group and reviews providers’ schedules to identify any children who are behind schedule. Ms. Mitchell also liaises with a local elementary school to verify students’ vaccination status.

Ms. Mitchell stays up to date on immunization issues by attending numerous trainings. She trains staff how to administer injections and has become the Medical Center’s “go to” person for questions. The Shingletown Medical Center participates in the Partnership Health Plan of Californina (PHC), which administers Medi-Cal (Medicaid) benefits. Thanks to Ms. Mitchell’s efforts, the Medical Center’s quality improvement scores for well-child visits under the PHC increased from 50% to 81%.

For her commitment to reducing missed infant immunization opportunities, Kendra Mitchell is California’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.


Lindsay Diamond, PhD

Lindsay Diamond, PhD
Parent Advocate
Boulder County
Niwot, CO

Lindsay Diamond has always been a scientist. When she became a mother, she wanted to make immunization decisions based on the best available science. For Ms. Diamond, the decision was clear, but she saw many parents choosing not to vaccinate their children. She set out to help them make this decision based on the facts, see how their decision affects other children, and encourage them to take a risk-based approach to understanding vaccination.

Ms. Diamond is a consistent leader and effective communicator. While earning her PhD in molecular biology, Diamond also studied science communication. Her ability to translate the science of immunization into plain language has helped her convey the importance of vaccination to a wide audience. As a leading voice in her community, Ms. Diamond has helped parents approach this issue with an open mind. For example, she was invited to give a TEDx Talk on how understanding risk can help parents make the decision to vaccinate their children.

Ms. Diamond has worked with Boulder County’s immunization program and local healthcare partners to address low vaccination rates. With Ms. Diamond as a role model, the Boulder County Public Health Department has started looking for more parents who are strong advocates of immunization. By giving parents like Ms. Diamond a voice, public health officials in Colorado hope to move the needle on vaccination rates.

For her efforts to educate her peers and influence social norms, Lindsay Diamond is Colorado’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.


Hyung Paek, MD

Hyung Paek, MD
Medical Director of Information Technology
Yale New Haven Health System
New Haven, CT

Dr. Hyung Paek is a pediatrician, information technology leader, and father who believes that “having accurate immunization information in the hands of those who need it is key to keeping our children healthy.” Because he knows unclear and incomplete medical records can result in missed immunization opportunities, he uses his expertise in information technology and medicine to help children get their vaccines on time.

In collaboration with the Connecticut Department of Public Health, Dr. Paek advanced a project to connect electronic health records (EHR) with Immunization Information Systems (IIS) in the Yale New Haven Health System. Now that these two systems work together, Dr. Paek’s colleagues can easily access real time reporting, past data, and a child’s vaccine status. Because of his work championing this invaluable program, Yale New Haven’s pediatric staff can now make sure children are not under-vaccinated.

Dr. Paek’s efforts have directly improved immunization operations for the largest hospital pediatric clinic in Connecticut. Because of his leadership, Yale New Haven’s pediatric clinic became the first to report their EHR data to the IIS in October 2017. Further, Dr. Paek provided smaller Yale New Haven Health clinics with access to the same technology, which helped underserved children receive the vaccines they need.

For his commitment to connecting health systems and improving communication about vaccines, Dr. Hyung Paek is Connecticut’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.
 Top of Page


Jump to:


Vibha Sanwal, MD

Vibha Sanwal, MD
Rainbow Pediatrics
Georgetown, DE

As a busy pediatrician in a small town with no other pediatric practices, Dr. Vibha Sanwal strives to make immunizations as easy as possible for her patients. She delivers premium health care in a compassionate and thoughtful manner to all newborns, infants, children, and adolescents.

As an immunization champion, Dr. Sanwal ensures her office systems are efficient for her staff and patients. She uses a reminder system that includes text messages to inform parents of upcoming appointments and to stress the importance of staying on schedule with recommended vaccines. Dr. Sanwal also reviews charts against the Immunization Information System (IIS) and uses it to update individual patient records. Georgetown has a large Hispanic population, so Dr. Sanwal employs bilingual staff and provides educational vaccine materials to parents in Spanish.

A Vaccines for Children provider, Dr. Sanwal was one of the first healthcare providers in the state to embrace the AFIX (Assessment, Feedback, Incentives, and eXchange) approach to improving immunization service delivery. Since adopting the AFIX approach, the practice has seen a 43% increase in coverage with the seven-vaccine series. Rates of adolescent immunization have also increased, with coverage of two vaccines reaching levels set by the Healthy People 2020 initiative. Outside of her practice, Dr. Sanwal has been involved in an immunization quality improvement project sponsored by the Delaware Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

For her commitment to improving immunization delivery in her practice, Dr. Vibha Sanwal is Delaware’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.

 Top of Page


Jump to:


Debra Andree, MD, FAAP

Debra Andree, MD, FAAP
Chief Medical Officer/VP
Community Health Centers, Inc.
Orlando, FL

As a pediatrician, Dr. Debra Andree has seen the devastating impacts of vaccine-preventable diseases, including a child who lost arms and legs to meningococcal disease. These experiences motivated her to improve immunization rates and ensure all children in her community are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Dr. Andree is Chief Medical Officer of Community Health Centers, a non-profit organization that provides healthcare services to children and adults regardless of insurance status. She works closely with the Florida Department of Health to review immunization coverage reports and identify factors that could negatively impact rates, such as vaccine shortages, staff education, and parent education.

Dr. Andree devotes a lot of time to training her staff and ensuring they are well-versed in immunizations, schedules, and how to educate families. If a family refuses to vaccinate, Dr. Andree patiently works to help them understand the importance of immunization. Dr. Andree also teaches at the Florida State University (FSU) School of Medicine, where she prepares the next generation of pediatricians to promote vaccinations and educate parents. In 2017, Dr. Andree received the FSU Award for Outstanding Patient Care and Superior Student Mentor in Clinical Teaching and Research. She has also received the Community Health Centers’ “Above and Beyond” Award.

For her efforts teaching staff, medical students, and parents about the importance of vaccines, Dr. Debra Andree is Florida’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.

 Top of Page


Jump to:


Feoderis Basilio, MD, FAAP

Feoderis Basilio, MD, FAAP
Uptown Pediatrics
Columbus, GA

Dr. Feoderis Basilio is passionate about patient care, especially when it comes to childhood immunizations. Dr. Basilio is known as a nurturing and progressive practitioner who brings innovation to her private practice.

Dr. Basilio has become a leader in quality improvement (QI) strategies to improve immunization rates. After participating in a district QI training, she trained three local practices to audit and improve their rates. In 2017-18 she was a QI Team Leader in a learning collaboration with the national American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Chapter Quality Network Childhood Immunization Project. She excelled in improving coverage rates for multiple vaccines among children 19 through 35 months old. She also shared immunization best practices with other Georgia teams through in-person learning sessions and webinars. Dr. Basilio continues to be very active in the Georgia Chapter of AAP and currently serves as Secretary.

Dr. Basilio takes every opportunity to educate parents about the importance of immunizations. When consulting with expectant mothers, she emphasizes official immunization recommendations. Dr. Basilio has also trained her staff on common parental misconceptions about vaccines and how to handle these conversations. She ensures her staff are knowledgeable of other immunization issues by scheduling immunization education sessions through the EPIC electronic health record platform.

For her efforts to educate parents and train pediatric practices in her state, Dr. Feoderis Basilio is Georgia’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.

 Top of Page


Jump to:


R. Michael Hamilton, MD, MS, FAAP

Michael Hamilton, MD, MS, FAAP
Kaiser Permanente, Moanalua Medical Center
Honolulu, HI

Dr. Michael Hamilton believes that children need strong and loving advocates in the challenging world we live in today. A pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente, he believes that partnering with his patients and their parents helps him provide quality care while helping the family to make wise healthcare choices.

Dr. Hamilton regularly speaks with families of his patients about the benefits of immunization and gives strong vaccine recommendations. His influence extends well beyond the exam room. Dr. Hamilton is very active in the Hawaii chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and served as President from 2013-16. He was instrumental in continuing the chapter’s immunization committee, which works closely with the Hawaii Immunization Coalition.

Dr. Hamilton has worked to ensure that vaccines can be administered easily and without extensive administrative burdens in the state of Hawaii. For example, he testified on behalf of the Hawaii AAP about the importance of the medical home as the primary place for children to receive vaccines. Dr. Hamilton has also educated state lawmakers about the negative impact increasing administrative burdens on healthcare providers could have on childhood vaccination rates. Dr. Hamilton’s efforts have contributed to state policies that support childhood vaccination.

For his dedication to ensuring that state legislation is supportive of infant immunization, Dr. R. Michael Hamilton is Hawaii’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.

 Top of Page


Jump to:
Idaho   |   Iowa


Alicia Lachiondo, MD

Alicia Lachiondo, MD
Treasure Valley Pediatrics
Boise, ID

During her medical training, Dr. Alicia Lachiondo was strongly influenced by her experiences caring for children with vaccine-preventable diseases. Learning that some families didn’t know their children could receive vaccines at a young age piqued Dr. Lachiondo’s interest in vaccine education and advocacy. In response, she developed a set of presentations and provider trainings focused on the “hows” and “whys” of vaccination. These presentations earned her a resident teaching award from the University of New Mexico.

As an outspoken advocate for the well-being of children, Dr. Lachiondo has become an integral part of the medical community in Idaho. She serves on committees dedicated to improving access and quality of care for children, such as Kids Congress and the Children’s Clinical Integration Committee for St. Luke’s Health System. Dr. Lachiondo has worked with her clinic’s leadership to change the way vaccines are presented to families, so the importance of vaccination is conveyed in a way that parents can easily understand. She also closely monitors the immunization rates of her practice and sends reminder recalls to parents.

The impact of Dr. Lachiondo’s work is evident in her clinic’s impressive immunization rates and in her ability to create community partnerships. She recently shared her creative approaches to addressing vaccine concerns as a guest speaker at the annual Idaho Immunization Coalition Summit. Local television stations have also invited her to talk about influenza vaccines for children.

For creating opportunities to discuss vaccines and being proactive about vaccine education, Dr. Alicia Lachiondo is Idaho’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.


Bethany Bjorklund, RN

Bethany Bjorklund, RN
Immunization Nurse
Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health
Mason City, IA

Bethany Bjorklund contracted viral meningitis as a teenager, and this experience inspired her to become a nurse. Her passion for vaccines grew from early career experiences as an intensive care unit nurse, where she saw otherwise healthy children die from H1N1 influenza.

In addition to administering vaccines at the Cerro Gordo County Department of Health’s walk-in clinic, Ms. Bjorklund serves on the Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa Vaccine Team. In this capacity, she has implemented a reminder recall system for eleven area medical clinics and worked with them to audit thousands of medical records each quarter. She also meets with healthcare providers to discuss immunization issues, answer dosing questions, and develop catch-up schedules. Ms. Bjorklund conducts on-site immunization audits of child care facilities, which helps them use the immunization registry and follow up on children who need additional vaccines.

Ms. Bjorklund has shared her infant immunization knowledge by presenting for nursing and medical students. This year, she spoke at the North Iowa Area Community College spring immunization conference. Thanks in part to her efforts, Cero Gordo County had the state’s highest immunization coverage rates for 2-year-olds in 2016, and the health department’s coverage rates for children 2 to 3 years old exceeded 90%.

For her dedication to ensuring high immunization rates in her county, Bethany Bjorklund is Iowa’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.

 Top of Page


Jump to:
Kansas   |   Kentucky


Debbie Pennington, RN

Debbie Pennington, RN
Clinic Program Coordinator
The University of Kansas Neonatal Medical Home
Kansas City, KS

Debbie Pennington is an immunization leader, mentor, and educator at The University of Kansas (KU) Neonatal Home. Her program cares for premature infants at the hospital and throughout their early lives. With more than 30 years’ experience in hospital neonatal intensive care units (NICU), primary care, and biotech pharmaceutical support, Pennington is especially equipped as an immunization advocate and leader.

In her role at KU Neonatal Home, Ms. Pennington led the way to child immunization rates above 98%. Thanks to her leadership, the clinic has maintained these high immunization rates and even achieved 100% rates during the final two quarters of 2017. She is dedicated to making sure that every child under her care gets protection from serious diseases.

Throughout her career, Ms. Pennington has been committed to connecting with parents to ensure their infants receive the recommended vaccines on schedule. She leads by example, taking the time to learn the name of every child who is behind on vaccination. She also has clinic staff teach parents how vaccines protect prematurely born babies from disease and why vaccines are part of a healthy life.

For Debbie Pennington’s leadership and commitment to protecting some of the most vulnerable infants with vaccines, she is Kansas’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.


Seema Sachdeva, MD, FAAP

Seema Sachdeva, MD, FAAP
Physicians for Children and Adolescents
Pikeville, KY

Dr. Seema Sachdeva grew up in New Delhi, India and witnessed the devastating consequences of vaccine-preventable diseases, like polio and measles, in her own neighborhood. The life-long effects these diseases had on families around her inspires her work as a pediatrician and her volunteer efforts to help children get the vaccines they need.

Dr. Sachdeva’s practice led the way in her rural Kentucky community by following CDC’s immunization guidelines before the state required vaccines. Dr. Sachdeva always works to get children caught up on vaccines, regardless of the reason for their visit. She takes time to answer parents’ questions and to address any fears and misconceptions. Because of her dedication to parent education, her pediatric practice maintains immunization rates above 95%.

For the past 19 years, Dr. Sachdeva has organized an Annual Pediatric Symposium for medical students and community physicians. At these events, she invites university faculty with immunization expertise to present as keynote speakers. Dr. Sachdeva has also mentored and educated future pediatricians about immunization through previous roles with the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine and Kentucky Children’s Hospital at the University of Kentucky. Outside of her work, Sachdeva raises awareness and funds for global polio eradication through Rotary International. She has also advocated for the need for continued U.S. support and leadership in polio eradication.

For her commitment to educating parents and other pediatricians about immunization, Dr. Seema Sachdeva is Kentucky’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.

 Top of Page


Jump to:
Maine   |   Massachusetts   |   Michigan   |   Minnesota   |   Missouri


Kathy Goodine, RMA

Kathy Goodine, RMA
Vaccine Management
St. Croix Regional Family Health Center
Princeton, Maine

Kathy Goodine is a vaccine leader in the St. Croix Regional Health Center who is motivated to protect children from serious diseases by educating parents and providing easier access to vaccines.

Ms. Goodine’s peers call her tremendously respectful and praise the clear and concise information she gives parents about vaccine safety and effectiveness. She regularly shares information with her peers, and Ms. Goodine’s colleagues consider her a reliable source of immunization knowledge. For example, she is the trusted resource for providers considering specific vaccines for high risk patients. By reviewing EMR reports, she helps her practice keep accurate vaccine records and makes sure children stay on track with recommended vaccines. She has also built creative educational immunization displays for parents in the health center’s waiting rooms. Ms. Goodine updates these displays every month with current vaccine information, and parents often share the materials she displays.

Ms. Goodine’s work as an immunization champion extends from the Family Health Center into her community. Every fall, she coordinates five open house evenings at local schools to answer vaccine questions, provide information about the importance of immunizations, and encourage parents to sign up for vaccine clinics at the school. Ms. Goodine also frequently attends other community events to answer vaccine questions.

For of her efforts to educate parents about immunization and provide vaccines in her community, Ms. Kathy Goodine is Maine’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.


Elizabeth Mena, RN

Elizabeth Mena, RN
Vaccine Coordinator
St. Anne’s Free Medical Program
Shrewsbury, MA

Elizabeth Mena’s mother had polio as a child, before a vaccine was available. Her mother’s experience sparked Ms. Mena’s interest in disease prevention. She has enjoyed a long career as a nurse and for the past 19 years, she has volunteered as the vaccine coordinator for St. Anne’s Free Medical Program. This program serves uninsured and underinsured children and adults in the greater Worcester area. Many of the Program’s patients are newborns and infants from war-torn countries, whose families have no other access to healthcare.

Ms. Mena stays up to date on immunization topics by attending conferences organized by CDC, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the Massachusetts Immunization Initiative. She encourages clinical staff to attend with her and finds funding to make this possible. Ms. Mena has decreased clinic waiting times by establishing standing orders, allowing nurses to assess a patient’s immuniza­tion status and administer vaccinations according to an approved protocol.

Ms. Mena meets with local nursing students, medical students, and medical residents to discuss the importance of immunization. She also mentors high school students who volunteer at St. Anne’s, which inspires many of them to pursue careers in nursing and medicine.

For her dedication to immunizing vulnerable children in her community, Elizabeth Mena is Massachusetts’ 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.


Veronica McNally, JD

Veronica McNally, JD
President & CEO
Franny Strong Foundation
East Lansing, MI

Veronica and Sean McNally lost their 3-month-old daughter, Francesca, to whooping cough (pertussis) on May 17, 2012. Driven by grief and an overwhelming need to understand how a seemingly “old-fashioned” disease could take their baby’s life, the couple founded the Franny Strong Foundation to educate audiences about the need to vaccinate against whooping cough. “I had a child, and my child would be here but for this tragic and terrible disease,” Ms. McNally said after her daughter’s passing. “This foundation is really, for the rest of my life, my tribute to her life and to what happened to her.”

The Franny Strong Foundation has expanded its mission from promoting whooping cough vaccination to boosting all of Michigan’s lagging childhood immunization rates. Ms. McNally was a driving force behind a new statewide campaign to increase Michigan’s childhood immunization rates to at least 80 percent within five years. A coalition of physicians, nurses, parents, and public health officials joined Ms. McNally to launch the “I Vaccinate” campaign in March 2017.

“I Vaccinate” has since generated interest from local news, parenting blogs, and concerned citizens across the state of Michigan. Ms. McNally was a crucial part of the campaign’s early success – her foundation conducted pre-campaign research to identify the best communications strategies and tactics. This research helped the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services plan and carry out the campaign.

For her tireless work to educate others about the importance of pertussis vaccination, Veronica McNally is Michigan’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.


Dawn Martin, MD, MPH

Dawn Martin, MD, MPH
Hennepin Healthcare System
Minneapolis, MN

Dr. Dawn Martin saw the impact of vaccine-preventable diseases firsthand during volunteer trips to developing countries. This experience proved useful for her work during the 2017 measles outbreak in Minnesota’s Somali community. During the outbreak, Dr. Martin worked with Hennepin Healthcare System staff to reach hundreds of infants and children in need of MMR vaccine and she helped guide the institutional plan to control the outbreak. Dr. Martin and pediatric residents also built a trusting relationship with the Somali community by organizing a community forum on vaccine uptake.

Dr. Martin is the Hennepin Health System’s Immunization Champion, but her leadership extends much further. She serves on the Minnesota Immunization Practices Advisory Committee as well as the Minnesota Childhood Immunization Action Coalition. She is the current Chair of the Immunization Work Group of the Minnesota chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which has recognized her as a Minnesota AAP immunization champion. She has also written newspaper editorials about the importance of immunization and testified for the Minnesota State Legislature.

Dr. Martin is committed to educating future pediatricians and family physicians. She created and delivered a three-hour immunization module for pediatric residents and provided leadership for a simulation-based training on vaccine conversations with parents. Nearly 95% of the simulation training participants said they would change their approach to communicating the importance of vaccination.

For her outstanding leadership within her health system and throughout her state, Dr. Dawn Martin is Minnesota’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.


Alma Luevanos

Alma Luevanos
Medical Assistant
Ozarks Community Hospital Noel Clinic
Noel, MO

As a veteran healthcare professional, Alma Luevanos was asked to coordinate the Vaccines for Children Program in McDonald County. As a result, Ms. Luevanos began attending vaccine trainings and researching ways to increase vaccination rates in her community. “There is such a need for the parents of children in our county to be educated about the importance of vaccines,” she said. “We live in a country with so many opportunities, children should have the chance to grow up healthy and vaccines play a vital role in that pursuit.”

The Ozarks Community Hospital Noel Clinic serves a diverse population of patients including Hispanic and Somali communities. Ms. Luevanos ensures resources are available in a variety of languages, and she serves as the clinic’s Spanish interpreter. She often uses her own children as examples when parents need reassurance of vaccine safety. Ms. Luevanos’ coworkers frequently rely on her expertise to answer questions about the vaccine schedule and official vaccine recommendations.

When the hospital administrators reviewed Noel Clinic in 2017, they found that the immunization rate for children 24 to 35 months old had increased to 92%. Ms. Luevanos has played a key role in this success: she schedules immunization follow-up visits, finds convenient times for parents to come in, and sends parents reminder cards of upcoming appointments. She often stays after clinic hours to call parents when they are at home instead of work.

For of her leadership and commitment to reaching parents from diverse backgrounds with information about vaccines, Alma Luevanos is Missouri’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.

 Top of Page


Jump to:
Nevada   |   New Jersey   |   New York     |   North Carolina   |   North Dakota


Robin White, MD

Robin White, MD
The Medical Profession, LLC
Reno, NV

As a pediatrician, Dr. Robin White has always been interested in vaccine-preventable diseases. She has experienced firsthand how difficult it is to treat a child who has become sick with one of these diseases. She has also seen how easy it is to vaccinate a child and prevent the disease from developing in the first place.

Protecting children from the devastating consequences of vaccine-preventable diseases is a top priority at Dr. White’s practice. When she encounters parents who are concerned about vaccination, Dr. White has an open and honest discussion with them. She is more than happy to spend her time educating parents about the safety, efficacy, and benefits of vaccination. Even if parents choose not to vaccinate during a particular visit, they always leave her office with a better understanding of vaccination and a desire to learn more. The time she invests in parent education has garnered her respect from parents, staff, and colleagues.

Dr. White has a reputation as a superb pediatrician and a leader in her field. At the University of Nevada, she teaches medical, nurse practitioner, and physician’s assistant students. One at a time, her lectures are preparing the next generation of immunization champions.

For her dedication to educating parents and medical students about the importance of immunization, Dr. Robin White is Nevada’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.

New Jersey

Jeffrey Bienstock, MD, FAAP

Jeffrey Bienstock, MD, FAAP
Pediatrician and Managing Partner
PediatriCare Associates
Fair Lawn, NJ

Dr. Jeffrey Bienstock once met a young patient who became deaf at 5 weeks old from pneumococcal meningitis, a vaccine-preventable disease. This experience motivated him to become a champion of vaccines. He is grateful that pediatricians have the power to protect their youngest patients from long-term effects of disease with immunization.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recognized Dr. Bienstock’s practice for boosting immunization rates in children younger than 2 years old and for advancing New Jersey’s vaccine-preventable disease program. Dr. Bienstock’s practice also participates in the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, which provides vaccines to children whose parents or guardians may not be able to afford them. Over the course of his career, Dr. Bienstock has always been an immunization advocate and led his practice to make immunization a priority.

In 2013, Dr. Bienstock found an innovative way to increase immunization rates by launching a flu carnival. Each year, PediatriCare Associates hosts a carnival where children can receive flu shots, parents can talk to pediatricians about vaccines, and everyone can have a good time. The event includes face painting, sand art, carnival games, and magic shows. Members of the community, such as firefighters and police officers, also attend the carnival. At last year’s event, Dr. Bienstock’s team successfully vaccinated more than 1,000 patients.

For his dedication and innovative approaches to immunizing children in his community, Dr. Jeffrey Bienstock is New Jersey’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.

New York

Shetal Shah, MD, FAAP

Shetal Shah, MD, FAAP
Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Neonatology
Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, New York Medical College
Valhalla, NY

In 2003, Dr. Shetal Shah—then a fellow at New York University Medical Center—helped resuscitate a premature infant whom he had just discharged from the NICU. The infant nearly died from influenza. This experience inspired Dr. Shah to increase on-time immunization of premature infants and their caregivers.

Dr. Shah has personally administered over 1,000 vaccines in the NICU. He worked with his hospital’s neonatal electronic health record system, CribNotes, to create electronic immunization alerts. These alerts are now available to every NICU using CribNotes. Dr. Shah has also pioneered promoting rotavirus vaccination in the NICU. He is currently conducting research to show that healthcare professionals can safely administer rotavirus vaccine to babies before they are discharged from the NICU, which prevents a missed opportunity to vaccinate.

As Legislative Chair for the Long Island Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Dr. Shah’s expertise was central to two state laws that require hospitals offer Tdap and influenza vaccine to parents. An analysis of the periods before and after the influenza legislation demonstrated lower numbers of infant influenza statewide. This work resulted in two New York State proclamations that addressed the work Dr. Shah has done to protect approximately 250,000 newborns in the state annually.

For his dedication to timely immunization of premature infants and their caregivers, Dr. Shetal Shah is New York’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.

North Carolina

Gerri Mattson, MD, MSPH, FAAP

Gerri Mattson, MD, MSPH, FAAP
Public Health Pediatrician
North Carolina Division of Public Health
Raleigh, NC

Following the birth of her child, Dr. Gerri Mattson became interested in maternal and child health services at the policy level. For the last 12 years, she has worked with the North Carolina Division of Public Health on programs devoted to maternal and child health services. As a public health pediatrician, Dr. Mattson looks at the health of children in a way that includes the health of the community.

Dr. Mattson serves as a member of the North Carolina Immunization Branch Advisory Committee. She has always been a strong advocate for vaccines and has presented at various conferences throughout her career. Dr. Mattson’s efforts go beyond typical business hours. For the past decade, she has volunteered as a pediatrician to deliver care to low-income families who may not have access to vaccines. She also volunteers at Wake County’s Child Health Clinic to help children stay up to date on immunizations.

Since 2001, Dr. Mattson has assisted the NC Immunization Branch with medical exemption requests. In each case, she takes extra steps to determine if an exemption is the best decision for the health of the child. She conducts medical literature searches and consults with specialists to help parents and providers make informed decisions on whether or not to vaccinate.

For valuing childhood immunizations and helping pediatricians provide the best care for children, Dr. Gerri Mattson is North Carolina’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.

North Dakota

Tyawna Ackerman, RN

Tyawna Ackerman, RN
Clinic Nurse Supervisor
Jacobson Memorial Hospital and Care Center, Elgin Community Clinic
Elgin, ND

In order to make immunization more accessible to her rural community, Tyawna Ackerman launched the childhood immunization program at Jacobson Memorial Hospital Care Center (JMHCC) and its affiliated clinic, Elgin Community Clinic. Before Ms. Ackerman began the program in April 2017, childhood immunizations were not available at the medical facility or anywhere within an hour’s drive.

Ms. Ackerman built the clinic’s childhood immunization program with professionalism and care. She obtained all supplies, created a recordkeeping system, designated a pediatrics space, and trained clinic nurses to vaccinate infants. She also collaborated with another established immunization clinic and the public health district to provide her local program with knowledge and resources. Ms. Ackerman managed all logistics and remains involved in day-to-day recordkeeping and parent conversations.

JMHCC’s CEO, Theo Stoller, calls Ms. Ackerman a “rock star” for creating the local immunization program. Stoller says the local program would not have happened without her dedicated efforts to bring immunizations closer to where children live. Now parents can get their children vaccines without having to make long trips to other medical facilities. This has been especially helpful to working parents who no longer need to take off work for their children’s vaccine visits. As a result, her commitment to making vaccines accessible in her community has improved immunization rates.

Tyawna Ackerman’s leadership, dedication, and commitment to making vaccines accessible in her rural community makes her North Dakota’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.

 Top of Page


Jump to:
Ohio   |   Oklahoma   |   Oregon


Rebecca Brady, MD, FAAP

Rebecca Brady, MD, FAAP
Professor of Pediatrics
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
Cincinnati, OH

Dr. Rebecca Brady was on her first pediatric rotation as a medical student at the University of Kentucky when she encountered a patient with meningitis caused by Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b). The patient was a four-year-old girl who had not received the Hib vaccine. The young girl spent a long time in the intensive care unit and became deaf as a result of her illness. This case sparked Dr. Brady’s interest in immunizations.

Dr. Brady is a leader of programs, committees, and associations all across the state of Ohio. As the medical director for the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Brady generates momentum for new programs to improve vaccination rates. Dr. Brady is also the medical director of the Maximizing Office Based Immunization (MOBI) program, which helps healthcare providers understand the importance of immunizations and vaccine administration. MOBI also supplies providers with tools and strategies to address vaccine concerns and improve immunization rates.

Under Dr. Brady’s leadership, the MOBI program has seen a 46% increase in provider participation, with more than 730 practices currently enrolled, covering every county in Ohio. Without this program, many parts of Ohio would not have the resources or ability to connect with parents who have questions about vaccines. Whether she’s treating patients at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, or supporting healthcare providers across the state, Dr. Brady makes immunization a priority.

For her efforts to improve immunization strategies at practices throughout the state, Dr. Rebecca Brady is Ohio’s 2018 Childhood Immunization Champion.


Mary Dunlap, MD, FAAP

Mary Dunlap, MD, FAAP
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
University of Oklahoma
Oklahoma City, OK

Dr. Mary Dunlap is a leading educator, director, and pediatrician committed to improving childhood immunization throughout Oklahoma. In her 20 years of providing healthcare and higher education, Dr. Dunlap has brought knowledge and leadership to efforts to improve vaccine rates throughout her state.

In 2017, as a leader of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) Oklahoma Chapter, Dr. Dunlap led a 12-month quality improvement project focused on increasing childhood immunization rates for children 19 through 35 months old. She consulted with pediatricians and clinicians in practices across Oklahoma, and led AAP’s first effort to improve immunization care in Oklahoma. Dr. Dunlap was also principal investigator for an AAP Community Pediatrics Training Initiative to improve care for underserved children, and she serves as medical director for Oklahoma University (OU) Latino Clinic.

Dr. Dunlap has built partnerships with immunization staff at the Oklahoma Department of Public Health. To ensure vaccine improvements in her state, she met with Oklahoma pediatricians monthly to discuss immunization topics and facilitate immunization curriculum for practices. Thanks to her efforts, participating practices continually see increased vaccine rates and lower missed opportunities to vaccinate. Dr. Dunlap is also the Pediatric Advocacy Program director at OU, where she oversees the curriculum on advocacy for children’s health. Her emphasis on childhood immunizations has had a strong influence on physicians in OU’s Pediatric Department.

For her leadership in quality improvement and partnerships, Dr. Mary Dunlap is Oklahoma’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.


Joel Amundson, MD, FAAP

Joel Amundson, MD, FAAP
Dr. Joel’s Clinic
Portland, Oregon

Dr. Joel Amundson’s passion for childhood immunization began when he saw children suffering from vaccine-preventable illnesses. He realized that misinformation was causing parents to decline vaccines for their children. Now he runs his own pediatric practice in the heart of Portland. Despite local challenges, he has achieved 100% vaccination rates and works to equip other practices to communicate the importance of childhood immunization with parents.

Dr. Amundson believes it is important to listen to parents’ concerns and values and create positive vaccine messages that appeal to parents’ desires for their children. He shares his communication techniques with pediatric practices in his community through Boost Oregon, a grassroots non-profit committed to vaccine education. As President Emeritus of the Boost Oregon Board of Directors, Dr. Amundson leads parent workshops, where he teaches vaccine basics to parents, medical providers, and community members. He also mentors other vaccine leaders in his community so they can also lead these workshops.

Dr. Amundson has co-authored two vaccination guides for education efforts entitled “Parent’s Guide to Children’s Vaccines” and “Counseling Vaccine-Hesitant Parents: A Medical Provider’s Guide.” He also educates others about vaccines through speaking engagements at children’s hospitals, midwives groups, and medical schools. Dr. Amundson’s work has improved immunization rates, influenced countless families to choose vaccines, and inspired physicians and medical students to reshape their vaccine conversations.

For his commitment to explaining the importance of immunization to parents with questions, Dr. Joel Amundson is Oregon’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.

 Top of Page


Jump to:
Rhode Island

Rhode Island

Arthur Taylor, RN

Arthur Taylor, RN
Nurse Director
Comprehensive Community Action Health Centers
Cranston, RI

Arthur Taylor has always sought to provide exceptional nursing care to children. After encountering an 8-year-old child who had received only one of his recommended vaccines, he was inspired to promote childhood immunization. Since that day, Mr. Taylor has dedicated himself to making sure children behind on vaccines get caught up and all children stay on schedule.

As Nurse Director at Comprehensive Community Action Health Centers, Mr. Taylor encourages all nurses to stay current on upcoming office visits to be sure they are aware of the vaccines they will deliver each day. Mr. Taylor rallied every member of his organization to commit to sharing the importance of childhood vaccines and to persist in efforts to get children into the office for their recommended immunizations. He is also an innovator who developed strategies for his organization’s health centers to connect with parents and to help parents choose vaccines.

Outside of his organization, Mr. Taylor connected with a Head Start childcare program and became a “Community Immunizer” to provide vaccines for children. In this Head Start program, Mr. Taylor identified children at risk for missing vaccines. When he discovered how many children needed vaccines, he worked with the Rhode Island Department of Health to bring vaccines to the program to provide easy access to immunization for working parents.

As a leader in his organization and a vaccine advocate for underserved children, Arthur Taylor is Rhode Island’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.

 Top of Page


Jump to:
South Carolina   |   South Dakota

South Carolina

Eliza Varadi, MD, FAAP

Eliza Varadi, MD, FAAP
Pelican Pediatrics, LLC
Charleston, SC

As a pediatric resident, Dr. Eliza Varadi witnessed healthy children die of flu and saw many other children suffer from pertussis (whooping cough) and meningitis. When her own daughter was admitted to the intensive care unit with pneumococcal pneumonia, Dr. Varadi began investigating the reasons why many children are not fully immunized.

Dr. Varadi prevents the spread of misinformation by giving parents accurate information at the earliest opportunity. She believes vaccine education should begin during pregnancy, so she initiates conversations about the importance of vaccinations at prenatal “meet and greet” visits with parents. At these visits, Dr. Varadi also encourages parents to get their Tdap and flu vaccines. In this way, she aims to “immunize” parents against misinformation before they even bring their child home from the hospital. Dr. Varadi’s approach gives parents the skills and knowledge to evaluate vaccine information they may encounter on social media and beyond.

Dr. Varadi is also active on local social media pages, so parents can easily contact her for more information. In fact, she is currently participating in an American Academy of Pediatrics social media project where she frequently posts reputable information about immunizations on her practice’s social media pages. These little conversations add up to make a big difference in Dr. Varadi’s community.

For her innovative communication strategies to address misinformation, Dr. Eliza Varadi is South Carolina’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.

South Dakota

Christine Arnold, MD

Christine Arnold, MD
Sanford Health Mitchell
Mitchell, SD

Dr. Christine Arnold’s passion for childhood immunizations began when she graduated from University of Washington’s medical school. For more than a decade as a pediatrician at Sanford Children’s Hospital, Dr. Arnold has championed immunization and promoted vaccines as a way to give children protection against diseases early in life.

Dr. Arnold is committed to giving parents in her practice correct and clear information about vaccines. She starts her conversations with parents early by discussing vaccines when she first meets them at her pediatric office or at the hospital when a baby is born. Thanks to Dr. Arnold’s commitment to vaccine conversations, many parents know about the advantages of childhood vaccines before they even leave the hospital.

Dr. Arnold is also dedicated to keeping children up to date on their vaccines whenever they come to Sanford Health Mitchell. She leads others in her practice by encouraging nurses to check for any missed immunizations, regardless of the reason for a child’s visit. In addition to taking every opportunity to vaccinate, Dr. Arnold creates opportunities by sending reminder letters to parents about the need for well-child visits before each new school year.

For her commitment to ensuring on-time vaccination of children in her practice, Dr. Christine Arnold is South Dakota’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.

 Top of Page


Jump to:


Judi Yaworsky, RN

Judi Yaworsky, RN
School Nurse
Salt Lake City School District
Salt Lake City, UT

As a school nurse, protecting the health of students is Judi Yaworsky’s top priority. Ms. Yaworsky has always looked for opportunities to help her students, which led her to start breaking down barriers that prevented children from receiving vaccines.

Several years ago, Ms. Yaworsky noticed that families denied school registration due to missing vaccinations would often seek vaccine exemptions. For some parents, this decision was not based on religious or philosophical objections to vaccination. She realized there would be fewer exemptions if they could reduce the cost of vaccines and make vaccination more convenient. Because of Ms. Yaworsky’s leadership, the Salt Lake City School District became a Vaccines for Children (VFC) provider, which enabled schools to offer free and reduced-cost vaccines. While this effort lowered the number of vaccine exemptions, Ms. Yaworsky recognized that many students were not eligible for the program. She then collaborated with the Salt Lake County Health Department to obtain vaccines for the rest of the children in the school district. Reducing cost and access barriers has made it easier for parents in Salt Lake City to choose vaccines over vaccine exemptions.

As a leader within the Utah School Nurses Association, Ms. Yaworsky promotes vaccination for children of all ages in the state. She also participates in the Greater Salt Lake Immunization Coalition, where she supports community strategies for improving immunization rates.

For her innovative approach to reducing vaccine exemptions, Judi Yaworsky is Utah’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.

 Top of Page


Jump to:
Vermont   |   U.S. Virgin Islands   |   Virginia


Judy Orton, MD, FAAP

Judy Orton, MD, FAAP
Green Mountain Pediatrics
Bennington, VT

As a pediatric resident in the late 1980s, Dr. Judy Orton often cared for children with serious diseases. Performing spinal taps on children to check for Hib disease or pneumococcus left a lasting impression. Knowing that half of those children with the disease died at the hospital and 1 in 4 who survived would have long-term health problems cemented her belief in the importance of childhood immunization.

Since launching her own pediatric practice in 1989, Dr. Orton has championed vaccines and made new vaccines available. For example, when companies released Hib vaccine for children in 1990, she immediately bought the vaccine for her practice and convinced insurers to cover the cost. In 2015 and 2016, Dr. Orton’s practice was only 1 of 5 pediatric practices in the state recognized by Vermont Department of Health for meeting Healthy People 2020 goals for childhood immunizations. She maintains high vaccination rates by having her staff fully support vaccines, sharing clear policies with parents, and using systems to make sure parents don’t miss any vaccines for their child.

Dr. Orton is Chair of the Southern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) Department of Pediatrics, where she guided hospital policy to include a dose of Hepatitis B vaccine at birth. Dr. Orton has also helped prepare future pediatricians through her numerous roles as a professor and mentor of medical students at multiple colleges in New England. She has also presented on vaccines at community meetings and educated state legislators about the public health impacts of philosophical vaccine exemptions.

For her long history of supporting immunization in her practice and her state, Dr. Judy Orton is Vermont’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.


Cyrelda Fermin, MD

Cyrelda Fermin, MD
Infant, Child, and Adolescent Clinic, Inc.
Alexandria, VA

As a solo practitioner in a pediatric clinic serving children of transient families, Dr. Cyrelda Fermin works hard to provide high-quality well-child and immunization services. Because of her caring and compassionate nature, she has become known as an outstanding pediatrician.

Dr. Fermin excels at communicating with parents about vaccines. A native of the Philippines, she is fluent in English, Spanish, and Filipino. Dr. Fermin starts having conversations in the hospital nursery and continues them at every well-child visit. She takes time to explain what will happen at the current visit and the next visit and strongly encourages parents to ask questions. Dr. Fermin’s approachable manner makes parents feel at ease and gives them confidence in their children’s care.

As a Vaccines for Children (VFC) Provider, Dr. Fermin has a remarkable history of adhering to CDC requirements and best practices for vaccine storage, handling, and safety. She has received certificates of recognition from the Virginia VFC Program for 7 years, most recently in 2017. Dr. Fermin’s is also an active partner with the Fairfax County Health Department where she works with Head Start, the Infant-Toddler Connection, and Fairfax County Schools to ensure children are up to date on immunizations.

For her dedication to high quality care in her practice and community, Dr. Cyrelda Fermin is Virginia’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.

U.S. Virgin Islands

Cecilia Penn, MD

Cecilia Penn, MD
Partners 4Kids
St. Thomas, USVI

Seeing the problems caused by a fragmented healthcare system inspired Dr. Cecelia Penn to take a more collaborative and comprehensive approach to medicine. At Partners 4Kids, Dr. Penn bases her practice on the philosophy that everyone contributes to the health and well-being of a child, which means everyone is responsible for promoting childhood immunization.

Dr. Penn has trained her nursing staff to educate parents about the diseases that vaccinations can prevent. Thanks to Dr. Penn, the front-end team at Partners 4Kids knows how to get parents prepared for their children’s vaccine-related visits. Dr. Penn has also empowered her staff to take ownership of vaccine management by teaching them about ordering vaccines, cold chain management, and inventory management. The whole practice helps inform parents and families when children should receive recommended vaccinations.

Dr. Penn involves all of her office staff in her work, so her practice doesn’t miss opportunities to vaccinate. She has also established partnerships with caregivers, schools, churches, and other community organizations to support children within her practice. Anyone who visits Dr. Penn’s practice can see the trusting relationships she has nurtured with her team, parents, families, and the children she serves.

For her inclusive approach to immunization promotion and the innovative ways she engages her team, Dr. Cecelia Penn is the U.S. Virgin Island’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.

 Top of Page


Jump to:
Washington   |   West Virginia   |   Wisconsin   |   Wyoming


John Merrill-Steskal, MD, FAAFP

John Merrill-Steskal, MD, FAAFP
Family Physician
Kittitas Valley Healthcare
Ellensburg, WA

Dr. John Merrill-Steskal’s focus on disease prevention in medical school led to his interest in childhood immunizations. Once Dr. Merrill-Steskal became a physician, he was diagnosed with cancer, which changed his perspective. Upon returning to work, his emphasis on disease prevention became even stronger, as did his passion for childhood immunizations.

Dr. Merrill-Steskal completed a fellowship in vaccine science through the American Academy of Family Physicians, and then traveled across Kittitas County to share his knowledge. He helped local pharmacies and providers use the Washington State Immunization Information System, and he presented vaccine information to staff in family medicine programs. Dr. Merrill-Steskal also started a vaccines project at his own clinic, which standardized prompts for vaccination reminders and made the process easier for parents and staff.

Dr. Merrill-Steskal advocates for childhood immunizations wherever he goes. Whether he’s in the clinic, hosting his local community radio program, or posting on his blog, he conveys the message that vaccines are important. Dr. Merrill-Steskal has become the resident vaccine expert of Kittitas County, which has helped local healthcare workers tremendously. As a visible and influential leader, Central Washington University recently invited him to present on vaccine resistance to their public health department.

For his efforts to educate other healthcare professionals in his community about childhood immunizations, Dr. John Merrill-Steskal is Washington’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.

West Virginia

Elaine Darling, MPH

Elaine Darling, MPH
Program Manager
West Virginia Immunization Network
Morgantown, WV

Before launching her career in public health, Elaine Darling served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Vanuatu, a country with limited access to vaccines. People would walk many miles to attend yearly World Health Organization vaccination clinics and wait all day to get their shot or their children’s shots. Watching these clinics, and witnessing the devastating impact low vaccination rates can cause, fueled Ms. Darling’s dedication to childhood immunization.

Ms. Darling has been the Program Manager of the statewide immunization coalition known as the West Virginia Immunization Network (WIN) for more than six years. She coordinates the efforts of this 300-member coalition to promote childhood immunization, adopt evidence-based best practices, and advocate for polices that protect children from vaccine-preventable diseases in childcare centers and schools. Ms. Darling helps lead WIN’s “Take Your Best Shot” program, which funds county-level immunization providers and advocacy groups for programs that raise immunization rates and awareness among children. These local programs have been overwhelmingly effective. In some cases, the provider’s immunization rates have more than doubled.

Ms. Darling also collaborates with the Immunization Action Coalition and Every Child By Two. She works closely with the West Virginia Department of Education to host an annual two-day immunization summit that coincides with a conference for the state’s school nurses.

For her dedication to building partnerships to promote childhood immunization, Elaine Darling is West Virginia’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.


Jeffery L. Moore, MD

Jeffery L. Moore, MD
Primary Care Physician
Marshfield Clinic Merrill Center
Merrill, WI

Before practicing medicine in Wisconsin, Dr. Jeffery Moore served as a medical missionary in Pakistan. The devastating effects of preventable diseases he witnessed there shaped his career-long emphasis on vaccines. In his more than 30 years of practice, Moore has been an outstanding vaccine leader, mentor, advocate, and policy maker in his community.

Dr. Moore has championed childhood immunization in his clinic by connecting with parents. He says the “critical issue is communicating complete, and at times frightening, concepts to parents with hope and reassurance.” He was the recipient of a Vaccine Science Fellowship through the American Academy of Family Physicians where he took courses on vaccine-preventable diseases. The knowledge he acquired through this fellowship has helped him ensure children in his practice get protection from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Dr. Moore works in a rural community, where as many as 1 in 10 live in poverty and only 1 in 8 have a college degree. He always takes advantage of opportunities to educate parents about the recommended immunization schedule. Because of his dedication, his clinic has the highest immunization rates out of more than 50 Marshfield clinics throughout Wisconsin. Outside of his practice, Dr. Moore is a medical advisor for his local health department and helps shape vaccine policy for Lincoln County’s Board of Health. He has also written articles and presented to his community about the science behind childhood vaccines.

For his efforts to educate parents about vaccines in his rural community, Dr. Jeffrey Moore is Wisconsin’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.

Learn about all of the Champion Award Winners.


Mike Smith, MA

Mike Smith, MA
Medical Director
Midwest Community Clinic
Midwest, WY

Eleven years ago, Mike Smith was working in healthcare in Casper, Wyoming where he met many people with limited access to healthcare and immunizations. During this time, he was sent to the small town of Midwest, where people had to drive an hour or more to access medical services.

Inspired by the need for healthcare access, Mr. Smith opened the Midwest Community Clinic, even though he was still living 40 miles away in Casper. Smith would drive from Casper to Midwest several times a month to bring immunizations and a mobile clinic. Over time, his commitment to immunization led him to leave his job in Casper to run the clinic full-time. Now, parents no longer have to drive 100 miles for their child’s vaccines and the clinic draws families from miles around. For example, even though Midwest has a population of 400 people, the clinic has tracked over 5,000 patients each year.

Outside of the clinic, Mr. Smith collaborates with the Midwest School District to make sure children are up to date on vaccines and the district follows vaccine recommendations. Mr. Smith also holds five vaccine outreach clinics a year in his innovative Mobile Immunization Vehicle. He travels to Casper twice each week and works with the Salvation Army to help homeless families get vaccines for their children.

For his exceptional commitment to ensuring rural and underserved children receive vaccines, Mike Smith is Wyoming’s 2018 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion.

Learn about all of the Champion Award Winners.

 Top of Page