News release: Minnesota physician receives Childhood Immunization Champion award from CDC

News Release
April 22, 2015

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Minnesota physician receives Childhood Immunization Champion award from CDC

Dr. Patrick Zook honored for efforts to promote immunization across Central Minnesota

Dr. Patrick Zook, a St. Cloud family physician, has been named a CDC Childhood Immunization Champion in recognition of his outstanding efforts to promote childhood immunization in Minnesota.

Each year, in connection with National Infant Immunization Week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the CDC Foundation honor health professionals and community leaders from around the country with the CDC Childhood Immunization Champion awards. These awards acknowledge people who go above and beyond to promote or foster immunizations in their communities among children from birth to age 2.

“We’re delighted to have Dr. Zook as Minnesota’s Childhood Immunization Champion,” said Kristen Ehresmann, director of infectious diseases at the Minnesota Department of Health. “His dedication and leadership have helped promote life-saving immunizations to his local community.”

Dr. Zook is a family physician with St. Cloud Medical Group, where he has been caring for patients since 1977. He is president of the Stearns Benton Medical Society (SBMS), a group of physicians working together to improve the well-being of Central Minnesota residents, and a member of the Minnesota Medical Association. After seeing cases of pertussis (whooping cough) rise markedly in the area, Dr. Zook brought together medical professionals and community partners in 2013 to promote vaccination. The campaign included fliers for exam rooms, media outreach, booths at health fairs, and a new program through which community members could get free pertussis vaccinations at local pharmacies.

The campaign motivated the community to act. Pharmacies and health systems reported increases in the number of pertussis immunizations they gave during the campaign compared to previous years. Campaign materials were widely distributed in the St. Cloud area and showed local community members getting their Tdap vaccination. The St. Cloud mayor was even featured on one of the pieces getting his Tdap shot.

“Dr. Zook truly cares about the people in his community,” said SBMS Executive Director Mandy Rubenstein. “He saw the rising number of pertussis cases and spearheaded the effort to get as many people in the community vaccinated against pertussis as possible.” 

While pertussis can strike at any age, it is particularly severe and can be deadly for infants. Infants start their DTaP (diptheria-tetanus-pertussis) vaccination series at 2 months of age. Pregnant women are advised to get Tdap (tetanus-diptheria-pertussis) vaccination during their third trimester of each pregnancy to pass protection to their baby before birth. Adolescents and adults who have not received Tdap in the past should also get a dose.

CDC Childhood Immunization Champions were selected from a pool of health care professionals, coalition members, community advocates, and other immunization leaders. State Immunization Programs coordinated the nomination process and made recommendations to CDC. One winner was selected in each of 30 participating states and the District of Columbia. For more information about other CDC Childhood Immunization Champion award winners, and to read more about Dr. Zook’s work, please visit Childhood Immunization Champions.

For more information about National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), please visit National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW)

For more information on pertussis and vaccination recommendations, please visit Pertussis (Whooping Cough).


Media inquiries:

Doug Schultz
MDH Communications