News release: Houston County’s Mary Thompson receives CDC Childhood Immunization Champion Award

News Release
April 18, 2016

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Houston County’s Mary Thompson receives CDC Childhood Immunization Champion Award

Award presented as part of National Influenza Vaccination Week activities

Mary Thompson, a registered public health nurse from Caledonia, has been named a CDC Childhood Immunization Champion for her outstanding efforts to promote childhood immunization in Minnesota.

Thompson is recognized for her dedication to creating a culture where immunizations are seen as a priority so staff do not miss any opportunity to review immunization status and offer immunizations when needed. She has used innovative approaches to reach parents, such as setting up a station at the county fair where parents could look up their own or their child’s immunization record.

In her time at Houston County Public Health, Thompson has worked hard to strengthen relationships with local partners to improve immunization rates in Houston county and neighboring areas, including across state lines as an advisor on a Wisconsin-based regional immunization coalition. Thompson has built relationships with local clinics when conducting annual visits to review immunization practices and protocols. She has also worked with local schools to institute school-based immunization clinics and written articles for various media sources on the benefits of infant immunizations.

“We are thrilled to be able to recognize Mary as Minnesota’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion,” said Kris Ehresmann, director of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). “The work being done at the local level is so vital to making sure all Minnesota children are protected from deadly diseases.”

Thompson’s passion for promoting immunizations stems from her experiences of caring for patients with vaccine-preventable diseases during her more than 40 years as a nurse. She has seen young patients die from complications of diseases like chickenpox, Hib and HPV.

“Mary knows the devastation these diseases can cause and works hard to improve immunization rates for everyone she comes in contact with,” said Houston County Public Health Director Health Mary Marchel. “She is an inspiration to everyone she works with and is a true immunization champion.”  

Mary will be presented with her award at a Houston County Board meeting on Tuesday, April 19.

Each year during National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), 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 the outstanding efforts of those individuals who strive to ensure that children in their communities are fully immunized against 14 preventable diseases before the age of two.

CDC Childhood Immunization Champions were selected from a pool of health professionals, coalition members, community advocates, and other immunization leaders. State Immunization Programs coordinated the nomination process and submitted nominees to CDC. One winner was selected in each of the participating states and the District of Columbia.

In addition to the presentation of the CDC Champion Award, the following activities are happening this week in observance of NIIW:

  • On Monday, April 18, the Minnesota Childhood Immunization Coalition is hosting a virtual event on Facebook where Minnesota parents can chat live with immunization experts to get their questions answered. For more information on the event, see Minnesota NIIW Facebook Live Event.
  • On Wednesday, April 20 from 3-4 p.m. (CT), MDH and other Minnesota organizations will be participating in CDC’s Twitter chat on the importance of childhood immunizations. Follow @CDCgov and the hashtag #VaxQA to participate.
  • MDH has shared resources with clinics and local public health agencies who are promoting NIIW in their local communities. For a list of activities happening around the state, see National Infant Immunization Week Activities.  

More information about National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is available at National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW).


Media inquiries:

Doug Schultz
MDH Communications