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The Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) Â announces that its associate director for immunization projects, Diane C. Peterson, has been selected as the Minnesota recipient of the first annual Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Childhood Immunization Champion Award. The Champion Award recognizes individuals who are working at the community level. It honors those who are doing an exemplary job or going above and beyond to promote or foster childhood immunizations in their communities.
Each year, this newly established award will honor up to one CDC Immunization Champion from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Award recipients for the inaugural year were announced during National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), April 21-28, 2012. During NIIW, Peterson will receive a certificate of recognition, be featured on CDC's NIIW website, and be commended by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) at a special event.
The award recognizes Peterson as one of Minnesota's longest serving leaders in saving children's lives through safe and effective immunization. Peterson's career in immunization, spanning nearly 40 years, has been devoted to increasing the number of children, in Minnesota and nationally, who are immunized and to improving the safety and effectiveness with which vaccines are delivered to them. She has led major projects at the MDH including developing policies to equitably distribute vaccine resources to children statewide, working with legislators to ensure passage of laws that increase immunization rates in childcare facilities and schools, helping initiate Minnesota's immunization registry, creating the initial plan for Minnesota's implementation of the federal Vaccines For Children program, developing innovative education materials for healthcare professionals and the public, and promoting immunization to the media, parents, and others through her role as an MDH spokesperson.
"I am humbled to be honored as an immunization champion by the Minnesota Department of Health and CDC," Peterson says. "I am grateful for a career in protecting people from completely preventable diseases by helping make sure they are vaccinated."
Peterson's commitment to protecting children continues today in her work at IAC where she develops immunization education materials for healthcare providers and parents, and helps formulate sound state and national immunization policy. She has been with IAC since 2002.
"Diane has worked tirelessly to make sure that parents are fully informed about the necessity of immunizing their children," says IAC's executive director Deborah Wexler, MD. "Her tracking of state laws that affect immunization policy and her collaborating with state health departments, medical societies, coalitions, and private providers to improve legislation has undoubtedly resulted in the vaccination of large numbers of children who otherwise might not have been protected."