FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 21, 2012) — In recognition of National Infant Immunization Week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the CDC Foundation honored immunization advocates around the country with the first ever CDC Childhood Immunization Champion awards. These awards acknowledge individuals who have made immunization successes possible in their community, including Dr. Christopher Cunha, a pediatrician with Pediatric Associates in Crestview Hills, Ky.
“The childhood immunization program is the cornerstone of American public health and an absolutely vital piece to maintaining a healthy society,” said Dr. Steve Davis, acting commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health. “The success of this program relies on the strength of the partnership between public health and the medical community. I commend Dr. Cunha for being a champion in this effort, helping to promote the health of his patients and educate the public about the importance and continued need for vaccines.”
The Childhood Immunization Champion program honors individuals who are doing an exemplary job or going above and beyond to promote or foster childhood immunizations in their communities. Cunha was selected for his work to help educate his community about the dangers of vaccine-preventable illnesses, such as pertussis, as well as sharing information that addressed concerns and fears of parents who refuse vaccines.
Cunha also is actively involved in vaccine advancement. After conducting vaccination research for more than 20 years at Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital, he started his own practice, Pediatric Associates Research Group, where he continues these efforts.
“These Champion awards honor community leaders on the front lines who are ensuring that all children are vaccinated,” said Dr. Howard K. Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. “As a former state commissioner of public health, I know that state and local commitment inspires the nation, protects children and saves lives.”
CDC Childhood Immunization Champions were selected from a pool of health care professionals, coalition members, parents and other immunization leaders as having made a significant contribution. State Immunization Programs coordinated the nomination process and notified CDC of their recommendations.
“Vaccine-preventable diseases still circulate in the United States and elsewhere. Without the diligent efforts of our champions, these potentially deadly diseases would be an even greater threat to our nation’s children,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, Director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “Each of us has the potential to be a champion by protecting children’s health through immunization.”
For more information about other CDC Childhood Immunization Champion award winners, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niiw/champions/profiles.html. More information on Kentucky’s vaccine program can be found at http://www.chfs.ky.gov/dph/epi/Immunization+Program.htm.