Home > General Info, In the News > Celebrating 20 Years of Saving Lives Through Immunization

Celebrating 20 Years of Saving Lives Through Immunization

October 20, 2011

Amy Pisani, Executive Director, Every Child By Two

It’s not often enough that we recognize the many important accomplishments made in regards to childhood immunizations over recent decades.   Just last week, colleagues traveled from far and wide to join together at the majestic Smithsonian Portrait Gallery and American Art museum to honor the  successes of vaccines, and the ongoing collaborations between dedicated individuals that make the field of vaccines such an incredible place to work.

Every Child By Two (ECBT) hosted the celebration to commemorate their 20th Anniversary and to honor the countless individuals who strive every day to ensure the health of children worldwide.  ECBT’s Executive Director, Amy Pisani, welcomed guests and explained why she believes that the people who work in the field of vaccines remain active in the field for a lifetime.

“I believe it is due to the truly collaborative spirit that defines our field.  The vaccine community does not compete like many other fields.  Instead there is an unfailing willingness to work together as a powerful force to ensure that needed programs are developed and shared with one another for the good of public’s health.”  She concluded her comments by stating, “Without your willingness to collaborate with one another and ECBT on the mission to ensure the timely vaccination of all children, we would not be celebrating the incredible strides made in vaccines over the past several decades.”

Dr. Richard Besser as Master of Ceremonies

Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser, of ABC News, was an extraordinary master of ceremonies for the evening.  It was intriguing to hear how Dr. Besser’s expansive career at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has contributed to his perspective on immunizations and how his work culminated with his appointment as Acting CDC Director.  Now, in his position within the media, he is able to affirm the struggles that we face in attempting to “make news” out of the positive benefits of timely vaccinations.  Though as Dr. Besser admitted, it may not always be easy to make the pitch, Dr. Besser’s persistent coverage of vaccine-related news stories are stellar examples of how he has been able to educate viewers regarding the science of vaccines and turn stories of disease prevention into actionable news.

Dr. William Foege delivers the Keynote Address

Following Dr. Besser, we were honored to hear from Dr. William Foege, former Director of the CDC during the Carter Administration, and current Senior Fellow for the Global Health Program, which operates under The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  With his diverse breadth of experience, he provided an inspiring keynote address and he proved to be the perfect witness to tout the enormous advancements made over the past several decades in the field of Vaccinology. He explained how impressive it has been to witness so many scientific advancements over the years; advancements which have ultimately resulted in the development of many life-saving vaccines.

Dr. Foege also applauded the public health community, including Every Child By Two co-founders Rosalynn Carter and Betty Bumpers, for their ability to identify and respond to the inequities in vaccine availability among the underprivileged children of this nation.  Dr. Foege reflected on the first efforts to overcome this injustice through Congress’ Polio Vaccination Assistance Act of 1955 which provided funds to purchase and deliver polio vaccines so that no child would have to declare themselves poor to be protected from the disease.  That, he stated “is the day that vaccines went from protecting the individual to protecting the individual and society; and that‘s the day vaccines and social justice met up!”

Dr. Walter Orenstein makes a special presentation to ECBT Co-Founders

The evening continued with a special recognition for Mrs. Carter and Mrs. Bumpers.  ECBT Board Member, Dr. Walter Orenstein, recounted his many travels with the ladies during his tenure as Director of the U.S. Immunization Program at the CDC.

“Twenty years ago, Betty Bumpers and Rosalynn Carter saw a big problem in this country – children suffering needlessly from preventable illnesses – and they took action to solve that problem.  They were tireless in support of immunization.  They would travel far and wide even to remote corners of our country to speak with parents, healthcare providers, and immunization workers. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Mrs. Bumpers and Mrs. Carter for their critical role in elimination of indigenous measles in the U.S., achievement of record high immunization coverage rates in this country and record low levels of vaccine-preventable diseases.”

Rosalynn Carter and Betty Bumpers express their gratitude for everyone who has helped save lives through immunizations.

The evening concluded with Mrs. Carter and Mrs. Bumpers honoring three distinguished leaders in the field of immunizations.

Dr. Deborah Wexler Receives the ECBT Immunization Leadership Award

The Immunization Leadership Award was created to honor an individual who exhibits consistent leadership at the national level with a demonstrated positive impact on the field of immunization.  While many people have become immunization champions through their work at national-level organizations such as nonprofits, medical associations, and policy-making entities, the person selected to receive this special award was Deborah Wexler, MD.

Dr. Wexler is the Founder and Executive Director of the Immunization Action Coalition (IAC), a nonprofit organization she started in 1991 when she left her medical practice out of concern for her patients who were becoming infected with measles during a major outbreak. Under Wexler’s tireless leadership, IAC has grown to be one of the nation’s premier sources of immunization information for healthcare providers and their patients. In national vaccine policy, Dr. Wexler has served as a consultant on working groups of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and on external planning committees of CDC’s National Immunization Conferences. Dr. Wexler has also served as Founding Chair of the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable and she is an active member of the National Influenza Vaccine Summit’s Executive Committee, co-chairs the Adult Vaccine Policy Group, and is a member of the Childhood Vaccine Policy Group, the 317 Coalition Steering Committee, as well as other national immunization groups. Dr. Wexler’s innovative “out of the box” thinking and tenacious spirit made her the ideal candidate for the ECBT Leadership Award.

Dr. Edgar Marcuse Receives Martin H. Smith, MD Award for Achievement in Childhood Immunization

Dr. Martin H. Smith was a tireless advocate for immunization throughout his long career.  In addition to 30 years of private practice as a pediatrician, Dr. Smith was a former President of the American Academy of Pediatrics and spearheaded the passage of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, which led to the development of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Dr. Smith faithfully served as a member of the Every Child By Two Board of Directors up until his death in January 2010.  In honor of this great man, Every Child By Two has created a special award that pays tribute to his spirit and dedication to ensuring access to immunizations for all children.

On this special occasion, Every Child By Two recognized Edgar Marcuse, MD, MPH with the Dr. Martin H. Smith Award for Achievement in Childhood Immunization. Dr. Marcuse has dedicated his career to promoting childhood immunizations and he currently holds positions at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital. Dr. Marcuse’s expansive career in immunizations includes service to more than a dozen professional organizations. He was a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and chair of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee. In Washington State, Dr. Marcuse has provided leadership, influence and expertise for the development of initiatives addressing vaccine hesitancy. He also worked with state policy makers, health insurers and others to create the Washington Vaccine Association, a not-for-profit organization that collects payments from health insurers and submits them to the state for universal vaccine purchase and distribution. Dr. Marcuse works tirelessly with individuals, families, local communities, national organizations, medical associations, and state and national government to improve the understanding of vaccine-preventable diseases and to promote the importance of childhood immunizations.

Senator Debbie McCune Davis Receives the ECBT Immunization Champion Award

Across the United States, immunization champions are working in local communities to promote the importance of immunization. The winner of this award, Senator Debbie McCune Davis, is an individual working at the state-level who has shown consistent leadership in the field of immunization. Ms. McCune Davis is an Arizona State Senator and Program Director of The Arizona Partnership for Immunization (TAPI).

From the outset of her tenure with TAPI, she made it her mission to be a champion for immunizations for all Arizona citizens. She is the driving force behind TAPI activities, events, boards and committees. She brings together for-profit, non-profit, public and private organizations around a common goal of increasing immunization coverage levels and eliminating vaccine-preventable diseases. Ms. McCune Davis has also been critically instrumental and effective in championing The Arizona State Immunization Information System (ASIIS) and immunization registries on a national level. Through Ms. McCune Davis’ untiring efforts, Arizona’s childhood immunization rate has risen from 46 % in 1992 to 75% in 2011. Now, as a state legislator in addition to her TAPI position, she advocates for Arizona citizens of all ages for quality of care, prevention of disease, easing the burden to the health care system and the cost-effectiveness of vaccines.

After such a wonderful evening of celebration, Every Child By Two would like to thank everyone who made it possible.  As they look toward the future, there is great hope that one day children around the globe will have access to life-saving vaccines and Every Child By Two is committed to continuing their mission until this goal is achieved.

Photo credits – Freed Photography
  1. October 20, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Love the folks you all chose as recipients of your awards. Ed and Deborah have been long-time supporters of PKIDs (and many other orgs), and who hasn’t heard of TAPI? Congratulations to ECBT for a fantastic 20 years!

    Trish from PKIDs

  2. Twyla
    October 24, 2011 at 2:14 am

    Awards for “immunization champions” and a “tireless advocate for immunization” are all well and good. But it would be great if in the future, rather than just rewarding those who promote vaccines, ECBT would reward someone who figures out how to identify and treat adverse reactions to vaccines, what causes these reactions, and who is most susceptible. This kind of work would be of tremendous help to the vaccine injured, could hopefully result in changes to reduce the number of vaccine injuries, and would restore confidence in the vaccine program. We often hear of people’s loss of confidence these days. If there is a drop in the percentage vaccinating it is not due to lack of PR, but due to the perception that our program is out of balance, with a focus only on commmunicable diseases but not on chronic neurological and immune system disorders; with more and more vaccines being added on to the schedule, but very little understanding of the potential cumulative adverse impact on developing immune and nervous systems.

  3. Chris
    October 24, 2011 at 10:37 am

    with a focus only on commmunicable diseases but not on chronic neurological and immune system disorders;

    Well it has been looked into with studies like this:

    Neuropsychological Performance 10 years after Immunization in Infancy with Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines
    Authors: Tozzi AE, Bisiacchi P, Tarantino V, De Mei B, D’Elia L, Chiarotti F, Salmaso S.
    Source: Pediatrics, February 2009, Vol. 123(2):475-82

    Encephalopathy after whole-cell pertussis or measles vaccination: lack of evidence for a causal association in a retrospective case-control study.
    Ray P, Hayward J, Michelson D, Lewis E, Schwalbe J, Black S, Shinefield H, Marcy M, Huff K, Ward J, Mullooly J, Chen R, Davis R; Vaccine Safety Datalink Group.
    Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2006 Sep;25(9):768-73.

    Childhood vaccinations, vaccination timing, and risk of type 1 diabetes mellitus.
    DeStefano F, Mullooly JP, Okoro CA, Chen RT, Marcy SM, Ward JI, Vadheim CM, Black SB, Shinefield HR, Davis RL, Bohlke K; Vaccine Safety Datalink Team.
    Pediatrics. 2001 Dec;108(6):E112.

    Pediatrics. 2010 Jun;125(6):1134-41. Epub 2010 May 24.
    On-time vaccine receipt in the first year does not adversely affect neuropsychological outcomes.
    Smith MJ, Woods CR.

    So your concerns have been investigated, and found to not really be a problem, especially in comparison to the risks of the actual diseases.

  4. Nathan
    October 24, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Yeah, I agree in part with Twyla. We absolutely should find awards for the thousands of scientists, like the ones you listed, Chris, who have made vaccines so extremely safe, and have found the conditions that are contraindications to vaccines as well. Great thought!

    Of course, we can’t award people for reducing vaccine injury in the case of ones that are actually imaginary injuries. Except with imaginary awards.

    I could imagine some good awards, though. They are probably not fit to type on this blog.

  5. October 29, 2011 at 9:49 am

    “If there is a drop in the percentage vaccinating it is not due to lack of PR, but due to the perception that our program is out of balance, with a focus only on commmunicable diseases but not on chronic neurological and immune system disorders; with more and more vaccines being added on to the schedule, but very little understanding of the potential cumulative adverse impact on developing immune and nervous systems.”

    And just what is medical science to do (besides education) if those “perceptions” and “understandings” are very little more than ignorance? Seriously, it is astounding that you can turn your own pathology into an accusation against science.

  6. JohnFryer
    March 31, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Vaccines are fine, save millions of lives and all idea that they harm are provably false.

    Yet we don’t know why so many people are autistic.

    We don’t know why babies suddenly die before six months while in perfect health.

    We don’t know how AIDS/SIDA has suddenly appeared in the modern world.

    ETC ETC.

    So in all this complete ignorance we see seizures et al after vaccines as complete coincidence.

    And deaths to one per thousand after mercury laced vaccines but not those without are all in the production of safe vaccines.

    Just who is the ostrich on vaccine policies?

    And increased vaccines during pregancy have shot the spontaneous abortion rate from alleged vaccines up more than a hundred fold.

    Another coincidence? More vaccines more abortions – NOTHING to worry about!

  7. Chris
    March 31, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    And deaths to one per thousand after mercury laced vaccines but not those without are all in the production of safe vaccines.

    Citation needed. And which vaccines in the present American pediatric vaccine schedule are only available with thimerosal? Do not include influenza, since there are at at least four without thimerosal.

  8. JohnFryer
    April 1, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Hi Chris

    Vaccines are like drugs they contain good ones and bad ones.

    The idea of generations to make them compulsory is contrary to natural law and for the makers to be excused the consequences which can never be proved – all we know is sudden death following vaccines.

    The withdrawal of vaccines and as you say no vaccines now with mercury means that people may possibly think it is bad to inject neurotoxins into people?

    The references for the one in 1 000 come from the manufacturers of the vaccines themselves who have no qualms with statements that death, autism, seizures follow the proper use of their products.

    I had my vaccines and glad of them but I do have qualms of the modern system of vaccines where even in my small circle I know of serious illness and death following vaccines and all the time NO PROOF except COINCIDENCE but where do you draw a line on coincidence?

  9. Chris
    April 1, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Please use a citation that is indexed by PubMed.

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