U.S. CDC has named Jeri Greenwell of Bethel as Maine’s 2016 Childhood Immunization Champion for her outstanding efforts to promote childhood immunizations.
Greenwell has made it her life’s mission to improve awareness about vaccine-preventable diseases. She has developed relationships with political leaders from both sides of the aisle, spoken with many about the importance of vaccination and has met with various groups and individuals to provide education. In addition, Greenwell has coordinated school-based activities with school nurses, students and parents to support on-time immunizations.
Greenwell’s passion and commitment to children’s health is driven by her family’s personal tragedy. In 2003, her son, Jerry, awoke with flu-like symptoms and by evening, he was admitted to the hospital in critical condition. Despite aggressive, round-the-clock care, Jerry died from meningococcal meningitis with this family by his side. This disease is preventable through immunization.
“Only those who have experienced their child or loved one suffering from the devastating consequences of a vaccine-preventable disease can truly comprehend the impact it has on a family or parent,’’ said Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew. “Jeri has been a tireless advocate for childhood immunization and has turned her grief into positive action.”
Each year during National Infant Immunization Week, the U.S. CDC and its 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 age two.