The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the CDC Foundation have recognized Bonnie Hughes of Shreveport as one of its first CDC Childhood Immunization Champions. The award acknowledges individuals who have made immunization successes possible in their communities. In this inaugural year, Hughes is one of 39 champions around the country being honored for their efforts as immunization advocates.
Hughes currently serves as Director of the WK Career Institute and Project NeighborHealth for Willis-Knighton Health System in Shreveport. She was nominated and selected from a large pool of health care professionals, coalition members, parents, and other immunization leaders as having made a significant contribution to public health in Louisiana through her work in childhood immunization.
"Health champions like Bonnie Hughes protect Louisiana's children by stopping deadly diseases in their tracks through vaccination," said Bruce D. Greenstein, Secretary for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. "It is important that everyone owns their own health, and every parent has a responsibility to guard their children's health through proper and timely immunizations."
Hughes has been an immunization advocate since 1991, when she helped coordinate the first "Back to School Bash" for the Shots for Tots program. She then served as chairman of the state's Shots for Tots program for 3 years and was instrumental in developing the first immunization registry in Louisiana. This registry tool provided the state with a template for the Louisiana Infant Immunization Network for Kids Statewide (LINKS), which now serves as the statewide Immunization Registry.
"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."
"I am honored to receive this award since childhood-immunization has been my focus for the past 20 years," said Bonnie Hughes. "One of the first assignments I was given at Willis-Knighton was a Back-to-School Bash for Shots for Tots and I have been hooked ever since," said Hughes. "We are always looking for ways to improve our immunization rates throughout the state and I think we have all done a great job. But there is still work to be done and I continue to welcome the challenge."
A CDC Childhood Immunization Champion is an individual who meets one or more of the following criteria:
- Has provided community leadership on immunization issues and collaborated with others to build support for and increase immunization rates of infants and young children
- Has used creative and/or innovative strategies to promote infant and young child immunization and meet unique immunization challenges within their community, state or region, including, for example, reaching hard-to-reach or under-immunized populations
- Has been a visible immunization champion in a community and/or medical system by acting as a spokesperson, advocate, and/or educator
CDC Childhood Immunization Champions were selected from a pool of health care professionals, coalition members, parents, and other immunization leaders who are doing an exemplary job or going above and beyond to promote or foster childhood immunizations in their communities.