The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Recognize a Michigan Childhood Immunization ChampionContact:
Zachary Yaksich of West Bloomfield Receives Prestigious New Award
Angela Minicuci (517) 241-2112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 26, 2012
LANSING - In recognition of National Infant Immunization Week April 21-28, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the CDC Foundation are honoring immunization advocates around the country with the first ever CDC Childhood Immunization Champion awards. These awards acknowledge individuals who have made immunization successes possible in their community, including Zachary Yaksich from West Bloomfield, Mich.
Yaksich goes above and beyond all of the nomination criteria for an immunization champion. Zack and his family established Alana's Foundation to share their personal story of losing their daughter, Alana, due to influenza related complications in 2003. Yaksich has since been an influential advocate for immunization policy advancements, including the expansion to universal influenza vaccination recommendations for all persons 6 months and older.
"I'm honored to receive this award since childhood immunization, particularly influenza, has been my focus for the last 9 years since I lost my daughter Alana due to complications from the flu," Yaksich said. "There is still a lot of work to be done in regards to increasing vaccinations rates and preventing such tragedies from happening to others. Through Alana's Foundation, our goal is to educate and increase influenza vaccination rates annually, particularly to those in the underserved communities."
Yaksich is an active member of the state Flu Advisory Board and the national organization Families Fighting Flu. He has demonstrated community leadership by organizing more than 20 immunization clinics in the Detroit area. In addition, he advocates for annual influenza vaccinations at numerous churches, schools, community organizations and press conferences.
CDC Childhood Immunization Champions were selected from a pool of health care professionals, coalition members, parents, and other immunization leaders as having made a significant contribution. The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) Immunization Program coordinated and submitted the nomination to the CDC.
For more information about the CDC Childhood Immunization Champion award winners, please visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines/champions. For more information about Alana's Foundation, please visit www.alanasfoundation.org, and MDCH also has a poster available sharing Alana's story: www.michigan.gov/documents/mdch/3__VPD_POSTER_Final_379016_7.pdf.
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